The biggest cow breed in the world is the Chianina variety that comes from the plains of Siena and Arezzo in Italy. It derives its name from Chiana Valley in Central Italy where it primarily originated. The males of this cow breed grow up to a height of six feet from hoof to withers and can weigh up to almost 4000 pounds. The ancient Romans have developed this cow breed primarily as a draught animal because of their heavy muscular build, length of leg and manageable disposition. The use of the Chianina in plowing the field of Tuscany in Italy and elsewhere were a common sight even as recently as fifty years ago. But, with the replacement of work animals by agricultural machines, the world’s biggest cow breed retained its popularity, not as a draught animal but as an excellent source of meat. Today Chianina beef is widely used in the preparation of the delicious Tuscan cuisine known as Florentine-style beefsteak, which is more popularly known as “Bistecca alla Fiorentina.”
This large cattle breed made its way into the Americas after the Second World War by returning US servicemen who were stationed in Italy. Since the United States prohibited the importation of cattle from countries such as Italy where there is a prevalence of Foot and Mouth Disease, semen from the world’s biggest cow was moved into America from Italy and cross-bred with the Angus/ Holstein cattle variety. Known for its favorable growth rate, high quality of meat and tolerance to heat and insect, the Chianina is not prone to cattle diseases that plague other cow breeds. Because of these positive qualities many cattle raising and beef-producing countries such as Brazil prefer the Chianina breed.
The Chianina are often referred to as “terminal breed” for their primary purpose as sire to cattle offspring with an outstanding growth, which commands a good price in the market. Because of their well-defined and distinctive physical attributes which made them excellent draught animals in the olden days, they understandably have small udders that them poor milk producers. A cross breed between any British breed and a Chianina results in an exceptional lean-to-fat ratio and lower generic problem incidence. Despite highly successful cross breeding with the Hereford, Red Angus and Maine Anjou varieties that resulted in superior off springs, the world’s biggest cow can stand on its own physical merits and remains the choice of cattlemen because of their superb ability to tailor-fit a cattle-breeding program in accordance to the existing environment.