the beginning of the 19th century, the cattle in this region were
large, well-muscled animals with light red coats spotted with white.
These cattle were known as the Mancelle breed. In addition to their
size and muscling, the Mancelle has a reputation for their easy
fattening. Laclere-Thouin, an agriculturist, wrote in 1843 that on the
community pastures of the Auge Valley, the Mancelle "were the last to
be put onto the grass, but were the first to be picked out to go to the
markets in the capital city".
In 1839 the Count de
Falloux, a landowner, imported Durham cattle from England and crossed
them with the Mancelle. The cross was extremely successful, and by 1850
Durham-Mancelle animals were winning championships at the French
agricultural fairs. In 1908 the Society of Durham-Mancelle Breeders was
formed at Chateau-Gontier in the Mayenne district. In 1909 the name was
changed to the Society of Maine-Anjou Cattle Breeders, taking the name
from the Maine and Anjou river valleys.
has worked steadily for the improvement of the breed. Breeders of the
cattle were mostly small farmers whose goal was to maximize income from
their small area of land. For this reason, the Maine-Anjou evolved as a
dual-purpose breed, with the cows used for milk production and the bull
calves fed for market. It is still common on many farms to find
Maine-Anjou being milked. In many herds, half the cows are milked and
the other half raise two calves each.
Maine-Anjou is one of the larger breeds developed in France, with
mature bulls weighing from 2200 to 3100 pounds on the average. Mature
cows will range from 1500 to 1900 pounds. The coloring is very dark red
with white markings on the head, belly, rear legs and tail. White on
other parts of the body is also common.
first Maine-Anjou imported into North America came to Canada in 1969.
These cattle were then introduced to the United States through
Maines today have evolved
to include solid black, black and white, solid red, and the traditional
red and white color. Commercial trends have gone towards the
solid color cattle however; the fullblood cattle were and are a very
important part of the Maine Anjou breed in the past and the future.
Maine Anjou breeders have refined the breed to allow for calving ease
but not to sacrifice performance. More and more Maine Anjou
bulls are being used each year in a variety of herds, both on cows and
heifers. Maternal traits such as mothering and heavy
milking go as far back as the origins in France where Maines were a
dual purpose breed; cows were used for milk production and bull calves
were fed for market. With a history with genetics like that
it is no wonder why Maines are labeled with such terms as “performance
second to none”, and “crossbreeding specialist”. There is no
question that Maine-Anjou adds value to any herd and have secured a
place in the commercial industry in the New Millenium.