Our Cows

Our Normande Cows

Normande cows are true dual-purpose breed with a large build the average weight of female animals is 750kg, but there are cows weighing more. Currently, the average height is 145cm to the sacrum (between the haunches).

I have to say I have become somewhat blinded to other breeds of cows not just because of what is written below, but because I have two of the most wonderfully affectionate creatures on the planet. I am a part of their family, they have invited me in, and treat me as one of them, which may be a little off putting when they lick me just after they have been feeding leaving me covered in a wet slurry of barley meal. But
they are a true delight to be with to care for and to milk. This of course says nothing of what we have done with the milk see dairying page, when I get round to writing it.

Milk Characteristics

The richness of its milk in cheese-yielding proteins (the B Kappa variant) ensures the Normande’s superiority over most other milk breeds. Manufacturers take a big interest in the quality of the Normande’s milk, because its conversion enables a 3% gain in
net cheese yield.

The results from a 1996 study comparing cheese-making ability (cheese yield) at equal protein values. Caseins, the main protein in cows’ milk, are the basis for conversion to
cheese. Three of them, the alpha s1, beta, and kappa caseins, are present in different forms. Their combinations govern cheese conversion and are highly hereditary. The BBB combination, which gives the best yield, is strongly present in Normande cow’s milk, thus explaining the gain in yield compared with the Holstein.

Meat Characteristics

Even after several lactations, the females produce tasty meat, known for its flavor and marbling. The carcasses, which are heavy and well shaped, are much appreciated by meat packers. Since 1992, a Normande Quality Label (FQRN) has promoted Normande meat, which is so tender, marbled, and tasty, that it was judged best meat by a Gault
et Millau jury. This gives the producer a premium of +10% to +20% compared with
the market price.

Breeding qualities

Hardiness & adaptability are the trade marks of this bread. The Normande was exported to South America at the end of the 19th century and adopted by a good number of breeders. Over and above its productive qualities, the breed adapted well to altitude conditions as well as to the steep slopes of Colombia and even Ecuador.

What’s more, its skin pigmentation, noticeable on the muffle (dark in colour) and eyes, gives it good resistance to the rays of the sun.


The Normande and the Montbéliarde have an identical AI success rate, in the order of 53%, and are clearly superior to the Holstein (45%) in this area.

Calving ease

Calving ease corresponds to the ability of a bull’s female offspring to give birth. This ability is the result of several effects: a direct effect from the cow on the size and weight of the calf at birth, and some indirect maternal effects (uterine effects, pelvic
anatomy…). For breed bulls: the ease-of-calving index for a bull is expressed as the percentage of easy births expected from the heifers covered. The reference value is 89%. Thus a bull with an index of +91% corresponds to a genetic standard deviation index of +1, and 87% corresponds to an index of -1 (for the Normande only, since the scale is different in other breeds). What can be retained from this is that bulls with a
calving ease index of 91% or more are advisable for use on heifers, whereas bulls with 87% or less are not recommended on any type of cow Normande 91 % and 65 % without help, Holstein 89 % and 53 % without help, Montbéliarde 87 % and 47 % without help. For cows: the table gives the proportion of easy births for the whole cow population (data from 827,200 Normande cows, all lactation rungs included). The Normande’s superiority in this area is striking, with a notably high proportion of unassisted births (65%). The Montbéliarde is clearly inferior to the Normande, with only 47% of births unassisted.


Normonde cows are known for their calm and their docility, as our photos attest. Breeders are thus ensured a certain degree of safety when handling the animals.


Normande animals are robust and live long productive lives Bichette, born on the 5th July, 1975, photographed in August, 2000, and who was milked until 15 years old. She continued her career with the raising of calves until 1998, the year in which she began her well-earned retirement.


The Normande is the result of progressive improvement of various local populations in Normandy. It was standardized in the 19th century. These days Normande cows, which were identified as long ago as 1883 in France’s first herd book, are an economic asset for breeders. Furthermore, they have acquired strong recognition and an image of
quality in the eyes of the consumer.

The Normande breed of cattle is one of the so-called “dual-purpose” breeds. Breeders who use it earn their revenue from milk production as well as from meat production. Its milk is rich in fat and in protein; it is highly sought-after by dairy produce makers and has contributed to the reputation of Normandy’s creams and cheeses.

The males are valorised equally well as veal calves, steers and young bulls. Even after several lactations, the females produce tasty meat known for its flavour and marbling.

In terms of breeding qualities, the Normande is characterised by its ability to make good use of fodder, its fertility, its longevity, and its hardiness. This makes the Normande cows the perfect choise for any self respecting permaculturist.

The Normande hide

The three characteristic colours of the Normande’s coat are called the three Bs, are Blanc (white), Blond (fawn/red), and Brindled (brown). The way these colours are arranged gives rise to a great variety of coats.

Three types of coat are distinguishable:

“Quail” coat: white
with scattered patches of colour

“Blond” coat: one big
patch, fawn in colour, covers almost the whole of the cow’s body. The belly
(underneath the cow) remains white.

“Brindled” coat : one
big patch, brindled in colour, covers almost the whole of the cow’s body. The
belly (underneath the cow) remains white.