Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted Sep 17, 2012
We bought our first Charolais cow from a neighbour (who called them 'Charlies') in the early 1980s, just as the breed was becoming popular in the UK. She was intended to be the nucleus of a small herd so that we could produce our own bulls for siring on our mixed herd to produce beef calves.
It never really panned out, for many reasons... Charolias are very highly-strung cattle, even the cows and they need lots of management. They are excellent as crosses for producing beef calves but those calves, even in cross-breeds tend to be large and we ended-up 'pulling' almost every one.
Based on our experience I would recommend that you do not even think of using Charolais sires with smaller breed heifers (possibly not with any heifer). As a result we ended up with a Hereford bull of our own and a Charolais bull that we shared with another farm. We would have the bull for summer and autumn whilst our neighbour had the bull for winter and spring, which produced appropriate calving times for both of us.
Even as calves, Charoliais crosses are feisty to say the least. And if you are looking for calm calves on a pet system or even a smallholding then this is not the breed for you. But if you are on a beef system, particularly a suckler system then the improved growth rates of Charolias crosses are worthwhile economically, you just have to factor-in increased costs of husbandry.
Being almost pure white, they are a very spectacular looking breed and look very muscular. Indeed, they were originally developed as a multi-purpose animal, being used for draft, milk and beef. They have excellent conformation and very powerful necks with even distribution of muscle on the fore- and hind- quarters and these muscle characteristics are transferred to the offspring.