Breed of the Month Archive

Modenese breed

Herd-Book creation :1986
Number of breeding females 650, most registered in the herd-book
Trend :Stable, slight increase
Location : 73% and 12% of cows located in the Modena and the Reggio Emilia provinces respectively, in the Padana plain, Northern Italy.

Breed description

Females adult: 125-140 cm height (official breed standard); average b.w. 650 kg.; white coat. Males adults: 130-160 cm height (official breed standard); average b.w. 980 kg.; white coat with grey areas on neck, shoulders, hips. Breed aptitudes: Double purpose, with major emphasis on milk (4,700 in 305 days of lactation; with 3.3% fat and 3.4% protein).


The Modenese cattle, also named “Bianca Val Padana” or “Modenese Bianca Val Padana”, is thought to origin from the heterogeneous cattle population (reddish coat) farmed in the area of Carpi (Modena Province, Northern Italy) in middle IX century, with influences from Podolian cattle (grey coat), through some selection for milk (major emphasis), meat (less emphasis), and for a white coat. An official herd-book was started in 1957, then stopped in 1975. In 1986 a new National Register was started, still active.

Trend of the population

The population reached a maximum of about 120,000 cows around 1940. From early fifties, we observed a substitution process with Brown Alpine and Holstein cattle (to give an example, in the forties in the Modena province 100% of cattle was Modenese, in 1968 26% only), followed in the '70-'80 by a reduction of dairy cattle farming substituted by fruit plant cultivations. Beginning '80: 650 cows. In 2000: a minimum of 300 cows. In 2006, 550 cows, in approximately 50 herds. Today approximately 650 cows, 60% farmed in herds mixed with Italian Friesian. Milk is sold to local market or industry, linked to the production of parmigiano reggiano cheese, anonymous and Modenese branded (a limited amount).

Breeding, conservation and promotion

Conservation activities started in the eighties with limited results. Since 1997 we observe a renewed interest of the local administrations, Emilia Romagna Region and Modena Province, in collaboration with the breeder associations APA and Associazione Nazionale Bovini Razza Val Padana. Conservation activities include among others: inbreeding control, cryo-conservation (semen from 54 bulls is stored for about 20,000 doses), development of a branded Modenese Parmigiano Reggiano cheese made with Modenese milk only and of a branded Modenese meat. Two cooperatives for production and valorisation of the branded products were recently created: “Valorizzazione prodotti bovini di razza Bianca Valpadana Modenese”, and “Bianca Modenese società cooperativa agricola”. Slow Food set up a “presidium” on the breed. Most farmers benefit from the EU agri-environmental subsidies, approximately 150 Euro per adult cow/year.

Trademarks of the cooperatives producing the branded Modenese Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


APA Modena - ph +39-059-5139911
Associazione Nazionale Bovini Razza Val Padana - ph +39-059-510620