Canadian Fullblood Maine-Anjou
Welcome to the Canadian Fullblood Breeders Group
The goals and objectives of the group are the promotion and development of fullblood Maine-anjou cattle as well as cattle exhibiting the traditional breed characteristics of recessive red or red and white coat colour, exceptional growth and feed conversion, excellent mothering and milk production along with outstanding docility. These characteristics make the breed a valuable purebred component to a commercial cattle breeding program.
Introduction to the Traditional Maine-Anjou Cattle Breed
Maine-anjou cattle were first imported to Canada from France in 1969 with many cattle imported in the following years including from England. These animals were readily and eagerly accepted by individuals due to the many exceptional characteristics of the breed.
Focus on Fullbloods
What is a fullblood Maine-anjou? The distinction is with regards to any crossbred or purebred Maine-anjou animal. A fullblood in the Canadian registration herdbook is an animal with a descending bloodline that verifies on both sides of the pedigree back to French or English imported animals.
A blood type or DNA qualification has been a requirement since the importation to Canada to secure a fullblood registration paper. This is something we are proud of because other countries importing from Canada are interested in a true line of cattle. Our DNA and bloodtyping has been consistant for over 35 years. We do not accept American fullbloods into our herd book unless they can prove parentage verification to our registry system.
Fullblood Breed Characteristics
Fullblood Maine-anjou cattle are large animals. When early importations began they were in fact the largest breed in France, larger than the Simmental, Charolais and Limousin. It was not uncommon to see 3000lb bulls and 2000lb cows.
Fullblood Maine-anjou is by far the quietest of all breeds to handle. This is one primary reason owners have enjoyed this breed.
Feed conversion is also a real positive with this breed. Many people assume that a large breed consumes more and is therefore more costly. The opposite is true however. In the first decade when Maine-anjou were on test they were way ahead of all breeds in average daily gain and feed conversion.
Maine-anjou continue to be at the top today in feed conversion while on test, however the a.d.g. is very close in all breeds. The Maine-anjou breed has many crossbred cattle when on test these days, lowering the standard set earlier by the fullblood cattle.
Recent tests in the U.S. on fullblood sires compared to other Main-anjou bulls have shown the superior quality of the fullblood sires.
Fullblood Maine-anjou (red & white cattle) have a recessive colour gene. This is a real benefit to other cattle breeders when crossbreeding. Although most cattlemen do not know this fact, it needs to be stressed. The true Maine-anjou qualities come through especially from fullblood breeding. The recessive colour gene constantly throws back to the colour of mama cow. In an age when many cattlemen in Canada are convinced that solid coloured cattle are the answer, the fact is that any fullblood (red/white) herdsire will give this result. ( i.e. When bred to white Charolais cows this is your ultimate cross for buckskin calves.
When bred to Black Angus cows you consistently get black calves as well as solid reds from Red Angus cows.
When bred to Hereford cows you consistently get Hereford looking calves (darker red, whiteface, spot eyes).
When bred to Simmental cows you consistently get a darker red Simmi looking calf.
One disadvantage to the whole crossbreeding program is that Maine-anjou rarely get the recognition they deserve as most order buyers have no idea that Maine-anjou is even in the equation when viewing crossbred Maine-anjou calves.
The milking ability of fullblood Maine-anjou yield ample milk for weaning 700 to 900lb calves at 6 to 8 months of age. Although these cows not usually have a super large udder as some other breeds, we find that the quality of cream content is obviously high because of the calf production. Fullblood Maine-anjou cows in France were milked with milking machines while other cows in the herd raised extra calves while on pasture. Early tests in the 1970's in Canada between breeds showed Maine-anjou cows having high quality milk.
Fullblood Maine-anjou cattle have longevity. This is so important to any cowherd. The cost of replacing cows due to any number of factors is not considered by many cattlemen. In France many cows were in production at 18 years of age. In Canada it is not uncommon to see 14-year-old cows in any fullblood herd with sound feet and udders. The oldest Maine-anjou cows noted in Canada were 26 and 22 years of age.
Fullblood Maine-anjou have excellent feet, good hair coats and thick hide adapting well to sub-zero weather. Fullblood Maine-anjou cattle never have cancer eye, a disease often associated with white-faced cattle.
Fullblood Maine-anjou cattle offer excellent carcasses in today's cattle industry. Possibly the best carcass of any breed would be that of Maine-anjou. Top chefs in different countries note the term "Anjou Beef". This coming from the Anjou area in France - that being the Maine-anjou breed. The reason for this is not only due to the marbling ability of fullblood Maine-anjou but because a Maine-anjou carcass yields a higher percentage of top end cuts over other breeds. The simple fact is proven by the demand for Maine-anjou crossed steers in the North American 'show steer' business. The big tops (width) of Maine-anjou cattle has been a demand for top show quality steers for the past 2 decades in North America. This significant trait is exactly where the top quality beef cuts come from on a beef carcass. The big rib eyes of our breed along with high 64 to 67% cutability should make Maine-anjou carcasses of the highest demand. The problem lies in not recognizing these cattle when crossed with other breeds because the true colour is not present. Therefore other breeds continually gain recognition but at the expense of the Maine-anjou breed.
How Have Fullblood Maine-Anjou Affected Other Cattle Breeds in North America?
To the chagrin of many, the idea that Maine-anjou cattle have actually enhanced other purebred cattlebreeds in North America would seem ludicrous. Two breeds in particular have been helped immensely by the introduction of Maine-anjou cattle.
In the early 1970's, it was soon realized that in crossing Fullblood Maines with Black Angus or with Angus cross cows a superior solid black steer began winning in North American shows i.e. Ft. Worth, Denver, etc. This crossbreeding continued and Maine-anjou were crossed with many black cattle in the ensuing years. This crossbreeding produced solid colour, jet black cattle whereby Maine-anjou blood was easy to conceal. The Angus breed once very small in size has now become quite a large breed with even the acceptance of white behind the navel or on the tail a purbred cattle. Black purebred Maine-anjou bulls have been a hot item in North America for years, many of these bulls going into purebred Black Angus herds.
The other breed that is constantly using Fullblood Maine-anjou in their purebred herds are the Shorthorn breeders in the U.S. The Fullblood Maines ad size, tops, vigour, better carcasses and a butt end to Shorthorn bulls. This is no secret as the appendix purebred Shorthorns are displayed throughout North American shows. These animals can be purchased by Canadian Shorthorn breeders and put into their herds. Nowadays the Shorthorn show strings look more Maine-anjou than the Maine-anjou show strings. The white star in the forehead, dark pigmented cattle with white to the hocks and white bands are easy to see in any Shorthorn show string.
So What's the Beef?
Why do we not see more true coloured Maine-anjou in the country? Apart from the strong demand in the U.S. for fullblood genetics in the Shorthorn breed, the breed has lost ground in its acceptability because so many pure bred Maine-anjou breeders have followed the trend to black cattle in North America especially with the U.S. market.
Most commercial cattlemen have not realized the strong and profitable characteristics of the Fullblood Maine-anjou as a breed to cross with, coupled with the idea that solid coloured cattle are somehow a benefit. Then also the fact that most of our fellow breeders are only promoting a black purebred animal which does not cross as well with other breeds as that of the Fullblood.
In many instances, in business the old becomes new and things that once were come around again. This may in fact be the case with the acceptance of coloured cattle.
Fullblood Maine-anjou cattle are a viable breed in crossbreeding if they are promoted. If as has been mentioned, most breeders are colour conscious and black is the 'in thing' then this has been a detriment to the use of Fullbloods. However, to those who choose to promote Fullblood Maine-anjou, the sky is the limit and there are many cattle breeders who will be very impressed as they are made aware of this breed of cattle.