The Chianina is an Italian breed of cattle, formerly principally a draught breed, now raised mainly for beef. It is the largest and one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world. The famous bistecca alla fiorentina (‘beefsteak Florentine style’) is produced from its meat.
One of the oldest breeds of cattle, the Chianina originates in the area of the Valdichiana, from which it takes its name, and the middle Tiber valley. Chianina cattle have been raised in the Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio for at least 2200 years.
The Chianina is both the tallest and the heaviest breed of cattle. Mature bulls stand up to 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in), and castrated oxen may reach 2 m (6 ft 7 in). It is not unusual for bulls to exceed 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) in weight. Males standing over 1.51 m (4 ft 11 in) at 12 months are considered top-grade. A Chianina bull named Donetto holds the world record for the heaviest bull, reported by one source as 1,740 kg (3,840 lb) when exhibited at the Arezzo show in 1955, but as 1,780 kg (3,920 lb) and 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) tall at the age of 8 by others including the Tenuta La Fratta, near Sinalunga in the province of Siena, where he was bred. Cows usually weigh 800–900 kg (1,800–2,000 lb), but commonly exceed 1,000 kg (2,200 lb); those standing over 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in) are judged top-grade. Calves routinely weigh over 50 kg (110 lb) at birth. The coat of the Chianina is white; very slight grey shading round the eyes and on the foreparts is tolerated. The skin, muzzle, switch, hooves and the tips of the horns are black.
At the end of 2010 there were 47,236 head registered in Italy, of which more than 90% were in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio; it is, after the Marchigiana, the second indigenous beef breed of Italy.
Don’t want one these beasts to get agitated when you are nearby.
Their history as draft animals means that Chianinas were bred for docile temperaments, as they had to work closely with people. That good disposition is important in a cow as large as the Chianina.