For several centuries, farmers from Normandy have developed this exceptional breed on the pastures of Northwestern France. Raised on rough forage, the Normande is very well known for quality in both the dairy and beef productions. Normande milk components are the best for making cheese. Carcass yield and marbling are superior. The Normande is the quintessential cow: unlike specialized breeds, it has preserved hardiness and breeding qualities, such as fertility, calving ease, feed and legs conformation, feed conversion and genetic diversity. From the high plateaus of the Andes, to the tropics, to Brazil, Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Africa and North America, the Normande has proven its adaptability to a vast range of climates. The Normande demonstrates that milk production can be accomplished without losing essential breeding qualities. We are pleased to introduce you to this unique genetics, a perfect fit for the new needs of dairy genetics.
Long damp cold muddy winters and simple forage diets have prepared Normandes for the worst. Today Normandes spread from the Andes to the Tropical coastlines of South America to Ireland and Canada. Because the Normande has not been selected solely on one character, it has retained exceptional qualities usually lost by specialized breeds, such as fertility, calving ease, excellent feet and legs and overall hardiness. Its thick curly winter hair insures a good protection against the cold while eye rings are effective against the sun in the summer. The breed also shows remarkable docility which makes the handling of bulls very easy. In addition, Normande presents exceptional feed conversion rates continually improved with ongoing selection. Finally, raised on grass for centuries, the Normande shows outstanding grazing ability.
The Normande Herd-Book was founded in 1883. Today there are approximately 1 million cows in France of which 300 000 are milk recorded. Of these, the 1000 best ones for milk production, conformation and origins qualify as bull dams and are mated with the 8 or 10 bull sires selected each year. 400 bull calves enter testing station where they are individually tested for feed conversion, growth rates and conformation. The top 160 are then progeny tested after random dispatching amongst the 6 regional selection units that participate in the program. In turn, 8 or 10 bulls from this generation will be identified as bull sires for a season. This selection model is unique in the world for its balance between breeding qualities and milk production, and yet permits regular genetic progress for both milk quantity and solids percentage. Normande breeders from around the world can therefore be assured that exceptional bulls will keep coming year after year.
Normande cows on high forage feeding systems average between 14,000 and 15,000 lbs of milk per lactation at 3.6 % protein and 4.4 % fat. Many cows produce more than 22,000 lbs and some reach 30,000 lbs. These results do not reflect the genetic originality of the breed: more than 90 % of the individuals carry the B Kappa Caseine gene and 82 % of AI Bulls have the BB Genotype. The levels of casein beta and kappa in the milk are known to improve the curdling quality of the milk for cheese manufacturing (speed and firmness of gel). In addition, Normande milk presents favorable calcium/phosphate ratio and casein miscella of small diameter, all of which result in yields of cheese 15 to 20 % higher depending on the type of fabrication/manufacture. In France, the Normande is associated with the production of such famous cheeses as Camembert, Pont-Lévêque and Livarot. As today's dairy industry and market trends strongly favor and focus on cheese manufacturing, one can see the immediate benefit of having Normande milk in the tank.
From Vermont to California and Wisconsin to Texas, dairy farmers are increasingly deciding to cross the top French Normande bulls with their dairy cows. Beyond hybrid vigor, they hope to make up for the lost breeding qualities (especially fertility and strength) fo such specialized breeds as Holstein and Jersey. Conventional dairymen and graziers alike, all seek maximum heterosis effect. Many of them intend to breed up to purebred, thus opting for a more functional, low maintenance cow. Studies made in France have shown that the F1 crosses tend to be above median average of the two breeds for milk but closer to the Normande for components. Further studies are needed to confirm this observation. But as inbreeding is becoming more of an issue for U.S. dairy breeds, there is great future for crossbreeding in the dairy industry. Because of its combination of strength, fertility and components, the Normande is well positioned to play a major role.
While the Normande has always been used for dairy, it has always presented strong dual-purpose qualities. In France, the Normande has always been known for its unsurpassed marbling quality, flavor and tenderness, and regularly wins blind tests for its taste. A special label for Normande meat enjoys great popularity in major supermarkets. In the US, Normande bulls have won growth tests at various test stations and carcasses have often ranked first at major beef shows. Cull cows, steers and calves will undoubtedly provide additional benefits to the Normande breeder.
Today's realities are different from yesterday's. Our new global economy asks for creative answers. The market is changing, quality is coming back, and yet overheads need to be kept low. We have the answer: we've got the genetics you've been looking for.
The Normande is a red and white cow with occasional sometimes widespread areas of brown hair. Typically, the brown hair has the look of tiger stripes, or brindles, interspersed with the red spots, and there is some degree of balance between the three different hues. However, one color often dominates, and there is a different name for the dominance of each color. The representative Normande is red and white (with brown brindles), like the one above, and this cow is said to be “blond,” (“blonde” in French).
When a cow is predominantly brown, she is said to be “brindled,” (“bringée” in French).
When you can observe a multitude of brown spots on the skin, beneath the white hair, the cow is called “trouted,” (“truitée” in French), typified by the bull Nivea.
Notice that some of the bulls in these pictures appear to be black. However, this is not actually the case. Most bulls tend to be quite brown (brindled), to the point of appearing black, but they are never really black. The Normande is a homozygous red breed. Redondo is a good example.
Calves do not display their brindles until a few weeks after birth, and altogether, Normande cattle tend to darken as they age.
Also, note that these color types are hereditary. and some families tend toward one dominant color. On the other hand, a dark brindled bull can easily breed “quail” daughters. You must simply be ready for a surprise at each birth.