ORIGIN OF THE CHAROLAIS BREED
Charolais has its origin in the Bresse-Plateau Region in the
Jura Mountains of Eastern France. From the plateau of Bresse the
breed spread to the fertile Charolles area.
Here the name Charolais came into use because The Charolais was
confined to this area for many years and flourished in both
numbers and performance. The breed achieved considerable regard
as a producer of highly-rated meat in the markets at Lyon and
Villefranche in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1773 Claude Matthieu moved his herd to Nievre and this herd
is today looked upon as the fountain herd of the modern
Charolais. During the 19th century the Charolais spread to
central France and even as far west as Vendeé, where a local
milk strain was developed.
With the creation of the first Charolais Herd Book in France in
1864 the breed became even more important, and in 1907 there
were already 1,026,000 Charolais located across France. Today,
with a strength of 3 million, the Charolais is the most
important beef breed in France, and represents 80% of cattle
found in the region.
It was only after the second world war that the Charolais breed
made its appearance in other parts of the world. At first small
exports, such as four bulls and six females to Brazil in 1950;
five bulls and eleven females to Argentina in 1955; one bull and
three cows to South Africa in 1955 followed by three bulls and
15 females in 1956, took place.
This small trickle developed into a big stream as the breed
demonstrated adaptability and outstanding results in the new
territories into which the Charolais breed had then been
introduced. In 1964 for instance 259 bulls and 1,605 cows were
exported from France all over the world and this trend is still
increasing today as the Charolais breed is proving its worth on
a global scale across more than 70 countries.
In April 1966, a mere 3 years after the first substantial
imports of Charolais into South Africa, the Charolais Breeders'
Association of South Africa was affiliated to the South African
Stud Book and Livestock Improvement Association as a corporate