Europeans have bred Blonde d'Aquitaine cattle since the 6th century, and we have to believe anything proliferating 15 centuries has a lot going for it. Talk about surviving market trends! These beef cattle evolved from draft animals, which explains their muscle development, hardiness and docile temperament. At one time they pulled carts, carrying weapons and goods plundered by eastern conquerors, across Germany and Gaul into Spain and Portugal. That's ancient history--literally.
Today, Blondes are bred for beef. North American cattlemen who want healthy yields from a low-maintenance herd are switching to Blondes.
A bovine blondes is easy to recognize by its solid color, generally described as "wheat". They may range from almost Marilyn Monroe-blonde to golden-waves-of-grain yellow, but the hair will be short all over, and lighter around the muzzle, inner sides of the legs, and under the belly. They are thick-skinned, and considered more heat tolerant than most continental breeds. Their hooves are light in color. Some are polled; others have horns which are thick at the base and light in color, graduation to darker tips. Their heads are distinctive: long from poll to muzzle, the forehead and muzzle are broad and the face is triangular.
Blondes have deep rounded chests and ribs. They are structurally correct and well-proportioned. They are muscular in the forequarters, have broad withers, deep heart girth and a large loin area. Strong top lines and gret length of body are hallmarks of the breed. They indicate the inherent muscle quantity and quality which makes this an excellent beef breed. Blondes also demonstrate localized muscle control over skin movement, similar to Brahman cattle.
Blondes are moderate framed. Most mature bulls weigh from 1,700 to 2,300 pounds. Most females range from 1,100 to 1,500 pounds. Steers will finish for slaughter at 14 months at a weight of 1,200 to 1,350 pounds.
The French Blonde d'Aquitaine herd book was opened in the 1960's and now represents that country's third-largest beef breed. According to Breeds Of Cattle, written by Herman Purdy, completed by R. John Dawes, the French government, which organized this breed, set certain criteria for three levels of registration, based on performance and conformation. Only offspring from matings of the highest-ranking, three-star dams with three-star bulls were considered.
Bulls retained for artificial insemination passed an especially rigerous test. From each 30 bulls calves from three-star sires and dams, 10 were chosen for further testing based on performance and fertility. Then 20 female progeny from each of the 10 were tested for 30 months for growth, conformation, calving ease, maternal attitude, and behavior. The testing occurred at official government test stations. At the end of the progeny test, only three of the 10 bulls can be retained for A.I.
Import to North America American breeders selectively imported French cattle specifically suited to beef production in North America. The first arrived in 1972. The American Blonde d'Aquitaine Association was established 1973 to serve as an official breed registry, collect data from performance tests and maintain a standard of excellence for breeding, shows and sales.