Charolais Cow

Category: Farm

Cream-colored and muscular animals, the Charolais cow has added size, bone, and muscle to the cattle herd in the United States. These Continental cattle also contribute soundness of limb and quick growth to commercial beef herds.

Charolais Cow

Charolais Cow

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Mammalia

Order - Artiodactyla

Family - Bovidae

Subfamily - Bovinae

Genus - Bos

Species - B. taurus

Common Name - Charolais Cattle


While the majority of Charolais cattle are white or cream colored, some breeders are breeding red or black Charolais. Their coats typically have waves or curls, especially on their heads. Originally, Charolais had horns and this is still mostly the case in Europe. However, in the United States most Charolais are polled. Charolais have thick, broad shoulders and chests with muscular legs. Charolais are one of the larger beef breeds. Bulls can weigh 2500 pounds and cows may be as heavy as 2000 pounds.


Like many beef breeds, Charolais cows are often bred around 15-18 months of age. Cows are pregnant for about nine months and give birth to their first calves around 2 years of age. Sometimes, because Charolais often have larger calves, owners will put off breeding cows until they are closer to two years of age to ensure that no calving issues arise. Charolais bulls reach sexual maturity around one year of age.


While Charolais cows are usually gentle, they can be a bit flighty and nervous. Gentle, quiet, frequent handling can help them learn to relax around humans.


The Charolais breed developed in France in the Charolles province, from where the cattle got their name. White cattle have been noted in historical records from as early as 878 AD, and by the 16th and 17th centuries French markets valued the white, multipurpose cattle common in the area. The early developers of the breed created a cattle breed that was useful as a milk animal, beef animal, and draft animal. The first French herd book was established in 1864. Not long after World War I, a Mexican cattleman imported Charolais cattle to his ranch. His herd grew in size and by the 1930s United States cattlemen, impressed by the breed, were importing the Charolais from Mexico. An outbreak of Hoof and Mouth disease led to a ban on importing cattle from Europe to Canada, the United States, and Mexico. This ban lasted until the 1960's when Canada, using strict quarantine protocols, reopened cattle importation from Europe. Because of the length of the importation ban, Charolais in the United States are slightly different from French Charolais. However, those with "less pure" herds can upgrade to "purebred" status by including French bloodlines in the herd.

Present Status

All across the globe, wherever beef cattle are raised, Charolais and Charolais crosses are common.