The Romagnola therefore combines
the characteristics of both major types of Aurochs, the ancient wild
cattle which were the forebears of the modern Bos Taurus and
Bos Indicus cattle breeds.
These primitive beasts gave rise to several
breeds with similar characteristics throughout Italy. Common traits
of these breeds are lyre - shaped horns, black pigmented skin, white
or greyish coat and general conformation.
In northeastern Italy the amalgamation of
Bos primigenius podolicus and Bos primigenius nomadicus
saw the formation of a new breed. Since this region, comprising the
provinces of Ravenna, Forl and Rimini was known as Romagna, the breed
acquired the name Romagnola.
For centuries the main purpose of these animals
was to assist man in tilling the fertile plains, with the production
of beef as a secondary consideration.
The fertile soils and high quality forage contributed
significantly to the evolution towards a progressively more muscular
type while the continued use of Romagnolas as living tractors ensured
their structural soundness and dynamic traits. During the past century
the mechanization of agriculture has seen the role of the Romagnola
directed specifically into beef production.
The man responsible for the definite change
in this direction was Leopoldo Tosi, who developed the first nucleus
of selectively bred Romagnola cattle in the mid 1800s in San Mauro
Pascoli on the estate of the Counts of Torlonia.
This initial herd became the focal point for
the entire breed. Over a relatively short period great progress was
made such that by the year 1900 the Romagnola was able to win first
prize as best beef breed, ex equo, with Herefords at the Paris International
Physiology and Functional Characteristics
Romagnola bulls are among the largest of the
beef breeds. Although their very heavy muscling was once sought for
draft, that characteristic is now attracting attention to them for
Their muscularity over the loin, rump and through
the shoulders and lower thigh is especially pronounced. In contrast
to the Chianina the Romangnola are much shorter in the leg.
The bone structure in this breed is also considered
moderate. A study of its proportions, (the rib cage is at least as
deep as the distance from the brisket to the ground), places the Romagnola
among the meso brachy-morphous breeds.
The breed has a number of distinctive characteristics
such as the horns, which are lyre-shaped in cows and half-moon shaped
in bulls; the hair which is ivory colored in cows and grey around
the eyes and shoulders in the bulls.
The skin is black pigmented as also are the
extremities, muzzle, horn tips, tail switch, hoofs, vulva, tip of
sheath, and base of scrotum. This coloration is an adaptive response
to the hot natural climate of the breed. Calves are born a light reddish
color and turn white when they are about three months old.
Adult weights on average are 1,250kg (2750
lbs) for bulls and 750kg (1650 lbs) for cows. Sexual maturity is rached
relativel early for a large breed. The dispositions are good, and
rapid gain, economical feed conversion, good dressing percentages
and a good quality carcass are claimed for the breed..