The Chianina is believed to be one of the oldest breeds of cattle, and originated in the Chiana Valley in Italy. Pirmarily used as draft animals, the Chianina later became known for terminal breeding or siring with other breeds to produce more marketable livestock.
The Chianina line was brought to the United States from Italy in the early 1970s and to Canada a few years later. Crossbreeding with the Chianina has led to new breeds such as the Chiangus (with the Angus), Chiford (with the Hereford), and Chimaine (with the Maine Anjou).
Appearance / health:
Considered the largest and tallest of all cattle, the Chianina has white to silver gray short hair on black-colored skin. The face is long and the head is narrow (an advantage for ease of birthing). The horns are short, black (becoming lighter as the animal matures), and curved forward. The animal has long legs and sometimes maturing to about 6 ft. tall. The musculature is lean and well-defined. The breed is favored for its longevity, hardiness, fertility, and desirable meat production.
Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.
Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.
Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.
Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.
Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).
A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.
Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.