The Chianina breed developed in west cental Italy where it endured wide-ranging environmental conditions. It is for this reason that the cattle appear in different sizes and types depending on the region from which they originated. Larger strains generally emerged from Arezzo and Siena. The name stems from the Chianina Valley, a province in Tuscany where the roots of this breed are traced back to.
In the early days, Chianina cattle served as draft animals, however the advent of mechanisation saw a change in the breeding focus, and beef production became the main priority. By this time, a large, sturdy and well-muscled type had emerged, which is attributed to the nature of the draft work that this breed had traditionally performed. Breeding programs over the years have focused on retaining the hardy conformation, while improving the rate of growth.- which has become a celebrated characteristic in the modern breed.
Chianina cattle are a horned breed and are thought to be the largest breed in the world. Their short-haired coats are white to steel grey in colour. Their pink eye and cancer eye resistance and parasite resistance has much to do with their black pigmented skin. The most distinctive feature of this breed is their immense and well-defined muscling. The shoulders, back and rear quarter are layers in extensive muscle, and their long legs are also noticeable. Heat tolerance is another favourable trait in Chianina cattle.
On average, the Chianina cow reaches 150-160cm in height (at the withers) and weighs 800- 1000 kilograms. A bull will typically reaches 160-175cm in height and 1150-1280 kilograms in weight. Although these are the average height/weight measurements, cows taller than 160cm and bulls taller than 180cm are commonplace.
Chianina cattle are also known for their late maturity, making them ideal candidates in both yearling and older beef markets. Their meat is recognised as being extremely lean and red in colour with adequate marbling.
This breed has strong hybrid vigour and the use of Chianina bloodlines in composite breeding has helped to produce the Chiangus, Chimaine and the Chiford. They can perform well in both soft and hard country and are considered to be decent foragers.
Chianina cattle were first introduced to Australia in 1973 when semen was imported from Canada. Later, semen was imported from Italy.
Today, Chianina cattle are distributed throughout Italy, parts of South America, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada