A Piedmontese cow on Alpine pasture near Castelmagno
|Country of origin||Italy: Piemonte region|
|Use||Dual-purpose, milk and beef|
|Weight||Female: 550-600 kg|
|Coat||White or wheaten with grey shading; black skin and switch|
The breed developed through natural selection followed by the normal processes of domestication and, particularly from the late nineteenth century when the characteristic postpartum hypertrophic muscle growth (‘double muscling’) first appeared, through selective breeding. The first herd-book was opened in 1877.
It is a dual-purpose breed: the cattle are raised for their milk, which is used in the production of several traditional cheeses of the region, including Castelmagno, Bra, Raschera and Toma Piemontese; and are also raised for meat, as beef from Piedmontese cattle is seen as a premium product.
The herd in Piedmont numbers some 273,000 head of cattle.
Piedmontese beef is meat from cattle having 1 or 2 copies of the inactive myostatin gene. This attribute provides a higher lean-to-fat ratio as well as a less marbled with less connective tissue cut of red meat than from cattle having the "active" version of the gene. The active-myostatin gene acts as a "governor" on muscle growth; Myostatin is a protein that instructs muscles to stop growing. In effect, when inactive, as it is with Piedmontese cattle, it no longer prevents muscle development which is what allows for the condition sometimes referred to as "double muscling".
Steaks from Piedmontese crosses contain less marbling and chemical fat (3.8 percent) than those from other breeds (eg., 4.1 percent for Charolais and Gelbvieh crosses; 5.6 percent for Hereford-Angus crosses) we have evaluated. Since fat contains about 225 Calories per ounce and lean contains about 31.5 Calories per ounce, beef from Piedmontese crosses … has relatively low caloric content. Caloric content of beef increases about 2.2 Calories per one percent change in chemical fat or about 3.3 Calories per degree of marbling. As fat content of beef increases, percentage of protein and water decreases. Thus, protein content is slightly greater in low fat beef with a low fat content.[this quote needs a citation]
—Dr. Larry Cundiff, Research Leader, USDA MARC Germplasm Evaluation
This low fat beef is also lower in calories, higher in protein and contains a higher percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids. The fullblood population is considered homozygous for this in-active myostatin gene.The beef from Piedmontese and Piedmontese-cross cattle is consistent for these qualities of leanness and tenderness because it is a genetic influence rather than an environmental effect.
- La Razza bovina Piemontese (in Italian). Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Bovini di Razza Piemontese (ANABORAPI). Accessed July 2013.
- T.L. Wheeler, S.D. Shackelford, E. Casas, L.V. Cundiff and M. Koohmaraie (December 2001). The effects of Piedmontese inheritance and myostatin genotype on the palatability of longissimus thoracis, gluteus medius, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. Journal of Animal Science 79 (12): 3069–74. PMID 11811461.
- Piedmontese, the Myostatin Breed: Beef Attributes. The North American Piedmontese Cattle Association (NAPA). Accessed July 2013.
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