Breed of the Month Archive

Reggiana breed

Herd-Book creation :1986
Number of breeding females (2007):1500
Trend :increasing
Location : 95% of herds located in the Reggio Emilia province, Northern Italy

Breed description

Females adult: 140-145 cm height (breed standard); average b.w. 650-700 kg.; red coat. Males adult: 145-155 cm height (breed standard); average b.w. 900-1000 kg.; red coat. Average milk production is 5,600 kg (3.4 % protein; 3.5% fat). Milk from Reggiana cows is particularly well-suited for cheese production, because of its high percentage of casein and properties for rennet coagulation Functional traits including fertility, longevity and hardiness are higher with respect to the mainstream breed (Holstein Italian), whereas udder conformation and milkability is lower. 


Reggiana cattle was first reported to be farmed in the areas of Parma and Reggio Emilia by monks around year 1000. The breed was the most important cattle in these areas in 1809, and was presented at the Vienna Expo in 1873. Pedigree registration started in the fifties and breed standards were published in 1953. In 1986 the national Herd-book was created.

Trend of population

In the last century, population size increased to 41,000 cows around 1950. From early fifties the substitution process with Brown Alpine and Holstein cattle started; in 1970 population dropped to 8,000 cows and in 1981 reached the minimum of 450 cows. From late '80, linked to conservation activities including the production of a specific parmigiano reggiano cheese made with Reggiana milk, we observe a positive demographic trend (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Evolution of the breed

Breeding, conservation and promotion

In 1991 a group of passionate breeders created a consortium (CVPAR: Consorzio Valorizzazione Prodotti Antica Razza Reggiana) to add value to the breed by producing a Parmigiano Reggiano c heese made with Reggiana milk, labeled "Parmigiano Reggiano delle Vacche Rosse" (Figure 2). Since its appearance on the market, this branded Reggiana Parmigiano Reggiano encountered good acceptance by consumers that were ready to pay progressively from 30 to almost 100% more with respect to generic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Following this renewed interest for the breed, the number of Reggiana cows is progressively increasing. Other conservation activities include the creation of a cryobank and index selection with control of inbreeding.

Figure 2: Parmigiano Reggiano delle Vacche Rosse


Breeders Association: Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Bovini di Razza Reggiana (ANABoRaRe) Dr. Villa, Tel. and Fax +39 0522 271396,