Origin of Breed
The history of Limousin cattle is rumored to be as old as the European continent itself. Cattle found in cave drawings were estimated to be around 20,000 years old in the Lascaux Caves near Montignac, France. These cattle drawings have a striking resemblance to today's Limousin. The Limousin breed originated in the regions of Marche and Limousin, located in south central France. Because it was a rather rainy region with a harsh climate and poor soil, the growing of field crops was very difficult and emphasis was heavily placed on animal agriculture. Because of their uses and their environment, Limousin cattle became a breed of unusual sturdiness, health and adaptability. This lack of natural resources also enabled the region isolated farmers and their cattle, which allowed them to develop with little outside genetic interference. Limousin were well known for their beef qualities and their meat. They were referred to as the "butcher's animal" in France.
The large framed and heavily muscled breed is golden-red, with a lighter color under the stomach, inside the thighs, around the eyes and muzzle, and around the anus and end of the tail. Limousin with black genetics can vary in color from light fawn or brown progressing through different ages to a deep black at a fully mature age. Mature black animals can often display black coats fully tinged with brown hairs. If not polled, horns are yellow at the base and darken towards the tips.
Mature bulls weigh around 2000 lbs. while mature Limousin females should average 1,300 lbs. and mature.
Limousin are known for their muscularity, feed efficiency and carcass quality. In history, they were often called the carcass breed as their carcasses have excellent conformation well suited to the market that demands a high-quality lean beef product. Limousin guarantee first-rate productivity at a low cost. Bulls are extremely fertile and their good conformation and lighter frame ensures ease of calving. Females demonstrate high fertility, a good milking ability, high conception rates and ease of calving.
Development in America
As the Limousin breed developed in France, cattlemen in North America were looking to Europe to improve their native beef cattle here in the United States. With the importation and growth of many breeds, cattlemen were open to new additions to their herds. One of the first exposures in this country concerning Limousin cattle was in the early 1960s in an issue of the Western Livestock Journal when a Canadian wrote of his impressions after returning from a trip to France.
The first Limousin imported to Canada was “Prince Pompadour.” Through the efforts of Adrien de Moustier of France and a few other breeders, the bull arrived in November of 1968. After his arrival, Prince Pompadour was brought to the United States to be part of Limousin exhibitions at various cattle shows and did much to draw attention to the breed. After the importation of Prince Pompadour to Canada, another group of Limousin bulls followed in 1969. This shipment contained Decor, Diplomate, Dandy, Prairie Danseur and Prairie Pride. These bulls were the base upon which the breed began its long climb up, finding good acceptance on the part of cattlemen.
The first Limousin bulls weren’t imported permanently into the United States until the fall of 1971. The first Limousin imported into the U.S., Kansas Colonel, was born and raised in Canada. Bob Haag of Topeka, Kansas, imported him for a group of Kansas Limousin breeders. In July of 1969, the first Limousin semen was available from Prince Pompadour. As these cattle were arriving in North America, cattlemen interested in the breed realized the need for an organization to promote and develop the breed in the United States and Canada. In the spring of 1968 at the Albany Hotel in Denver, fifteen cattlemen formed the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF).
Registry and Improvement Programs
The North American Limousin Foundation is headquartered in Englewood, CO. The Association provides registrations, transfers, performance data, sales and member services, as well as a junior program, shows and scholarships.