Aubracs are low maintenance cattle that are well adapted to the rough mountainous terrain from where they originate. They are hardy and excellent foragers able to feed on low-cost roughage without compromise to their meat or milk production.
Main Qualities of the Breed
The Aubrac is a well-muscled animal of medium-sized stature. Their attributes are numerous but the following qualities are why the Aubrac is increasing rapidly in popularity:
|HIGH FEED CONVERSION RATIO:
The Aubrac feeds exceptionally well on low
cost roughage such as grass and hay. Their
excellent feed conversion ratio means that
production costs of the finished animal as well as
maintenance of the breeding female are kept low.
Aubrac fertility is impressive with up to 98% of
cows going back in calf. A priority of the breed
is to produce one live calf per cow per year for as
many years as possible.
|CONSISTENT GRADING AND KILL-OUT RESULTS:
The deep-bodied well-balanced frame of
the Aubrac ensures consistently good grades.
The density of the meat and high meat to
bone ratio ensure outstanding kill-out figures.
U grades are standard for the breed as well as
E grades being achieved.
With emphasis of suckler profits now being
placed on fertility and lower maintenance
costs of the cow, the Aubrac is fast becoming
the obvious choice as there is no reduction in
quality of produce even though input costs are
The Aubrac is an easily calved breed. Calves
tend to average from 33kg to 39kg at birth,
producing a lively, hardy calf with outstanding
growth rates. Many dairy and commercial
farmers are now discovering that using Aubrac
bulls, even on heifers, produces better quality
calves and therefore increased profits at sale
or finishing. Aubracs have impressive pelvic
conformation. Aubrac cows are renowned not
only for calving pure bred calves easily but are
also capable of calving high-muscled and even
double-muscled continentals with ease.
The Aubrac is structurally a very sound animal.
They tend to have deeper well-balanced frames
with shorter, stronger legs thus making them
physically strong and sound. Couple this with a
higher overall hardiness and outstanding pelvic
conformation and thus exists a breeding cow that
will last longer and produce more live calves over
her lifetime than other breeds.
Aubracs tend to be calm and settled cattle and
when well-handled they prove to be particularly
docile in nature.
Aubrac meat is very dense with a notable
high quality flavour. The meat to bone ratio is
very high with very little waste from the carcass,
making it an attractive animal for butchering.
Aubracs have neat, tidy udders. The quality
of Aubrac milk is excellent with average butter
fat content of 4.2%. The milk is often used to
produce cheese in France. In Ireland, the milk
quality promotes calf growth even further.
Official Standards of the Aubrac Cattle Breed
(As set by French Herd-Book)
The coat is fawn with varying
shades, it can vary from wheat colour
to pale grey. The coat is darker on
the shoulders and on the croup.
These characteristics are mostly
noticeable on non castrated males,
where the front end is almost black.
The mucous membranes, the rim
of the anus, the lips of the vulva, the
tuft at the end of the tail, the cleats,
the tips of the horns, and the rims
of the ears are black. In the male the
extremity of the scrotum is black.
Pointing obliquely and slightly to the front,
then upwards and finally twisting with the tip
pointing backwards, they are black at the tip and
as white as possible at the base.
The muzzle, the rim of the eyelids and the
eyelashes are black, surrounded by a white halo.
The tongue is slate colour. The eye is lively and
kind with a black make-up like outline. The
forehead is flat and straight. The brow is square.
The top knot is wide and often frizzy. The ears
are medium sized, thin and surrounded with
black hair. The head is expressive, the muzzle
short and wide.
Short and fine, they are of remarkable strength.
The hooves are black. The Aubrac has excellent
legs that are traditionally suited for travelling
mountainous terrain. The hind legs have wide
and strong hocks.
The tail is thin, long with an attachment not
too prominent, well set and must end with a
The neck and flanks are somewhat short but
the chest and loins are wide. The pelvis and
hips are well developed and level. The top line
is straight, the chest is deep and the ribs are well
sprung. The dewlap is less developed but the
croup is muscular. The thigh is thick and very
long but not too rounded.
Standing on four perfect legs, the Aubrac is a
medium sized animal, solid and sturdy, showing
characteristics of a robust animal.
What should we look for in an Aubrac cow?
Probably, the best description would be:
BALANCE – no extremes.
One of the first descriptions of the breed was
published in 1888, and those traits are still the
same ones followed by the French Herdbook
• The legs should be short in comparison to
the length and the depth of the animal.
• Chest and back should be wide but with
• The hindquaters should be wide and the
thigh long rather than round.
• The legs should be strong and correct.
It is only too easy to chase the highest
figures. For example, in the scoring chart, the
hindquarter development score goes from 1 to 15
and describes the “roundness” of the hindquarter.
15 is the highest figure, but is not what is best for
an Aubrac cow. In this situation, 8 or 9 maximum
is best. Higher muscular development can be
associated with lesser milk production and lesser
ease of calving, which is not what this breed is
about. On the other hand, the width behind the
withers, loin development and depth of chest,
should be in the higher figures for a quality
animal. The width of the pelvis also needs to
be in the higher scores to ensure ease of calving.
Some bulls are advertised as easy calving but are
narrow. For producing a breeding cow, you need
to look at the calving ability figures, not only the
calving ease. Another attribute of the Aubrac
breed is its ability to do well on grass, with less or
no need for grain. For this the Aubrac has a deep
gut. This goes with a deep chest, which means
larger lung and heart capacity.
Chasing high skeletal growth figures can also
lead to taller, harder fed animals, and possibly
“leggy”. A short legged, short backed animal is
no better. Again, “balance” is the key. A good
udder, locomotion, a pretty head, are all also
important and need to be studied. A cow is made
of a combination of traits, no animal should
be selected for only 1 trait. Last but not least,
temperament. The Aubrac should be a beautiful
proud animal but docile. There is no place in a
herd for an animal that is not, no matter how
“good” she is meant to be.
One extra word of caution: As their food
conversion is excellent, the worst thing you can
do to an Aubrac cow is to constantly over feed
her. This can lead to ovaries and udder clogged in
fat and affect reproduction and milk ability. She
needs to lose that extra fat at some stage during
the year if you want her to carry on breeding for
many years to come.
There are a lot of other important traits to look
into. Described here is only a very short summary
of some of the more essential ones. For more
information, please refer to the “official standards
of the breed” in this booklet.