Fullblood vs. Purebred Maine-Anjou Cattle: What's the Difference?

We only raise Fullblood Maine-Anjou cattle on our farm (except for two black purebred Maine-Anjou I got at a fire sale auction). Some ask me what is the difference other than color between the red & white and the black Maines. The Fullblood Maine-Anjou are the original cattle as bred in France. My good friends Gary and Sandy Graham in Canada have an excellent website devoted to Fullbloods with a lot of interesting information about the breed. This site will answer most of your questions.

For me, there are a number of reasons I breed these particular cattle

1. They are pre-dispositioned genetically to gain weight and get fat on natural grass, not grain.

2. They are easy to work with, not wild and more like big pets.

3. If you are going to raise cattle, raise pretty ones if all other things are different.

4. Fullblood Maine-Anjou genetics are important. It is difficult to find a steer that wins a stock show competition that does not have significant Maine genetics.

5. The Fullblood grass-fed beef is a superior product if the cattle are raised properly.

In France, where Fullbloods are the only Maines, the beef is considered number one for chefs and high end restaurants. Over 50,000 cows produce beef that gets a significant market premium over other breeds, including Angus in Europe.

The Maine-Anjou known as purebreds are black. They are the product of genetic engineering. A red and white Fullblood bull or cow is bred to an Angus cow or bull and the resulting offspring will be a black hided animal (in most cases). If you take that offspring and breed it again to a Maine-Anjou (black or red hided) you will get another black offspring, but a higher percentage of Maine-Anjou blood. The resulting animal, which I call cross bred cattle, will have some of the characteristics of
Angus and some of the Fullblood Maine-Anjou.

Why would anyone do this? It's simple......money. Black cattle sell for a higher price than any other color due to the marketing of the Angus cattle association. When you buy Certified Angus Beef is is not all Angus. The program includes any cattle with a hide that is 51% black. Thus any breed that has been crossed with Angus will qualify. I think the label is misleading and does not tell the consumer what they are buying. So, to play the money game, cattlemen of all breeds started to mix their herds with
Angus and almost every breed has black cattle that can be registered as purebred.

I believe that each original breed had their own strong points and weak ones. If you are only breeding for beef, a good F1 (first time) cross of one registered original animal with another that is mixed or another breed will normally give you a larger offspring with more meat. Breeding Fullblood Maine-Anjou cattle to any other cattle will result in a superior animal with more commercial value. It will often provide more beef that will grade higher.

Cattle breeds are kept going by cattlemen that stick with the basics and do not go with every marketing option available to them. Nolan Ryan Beef has a marketing program for cattle that are generally brown and white or red and white. It has the correct focus, the quality of the beef and not the color of the hide.

The bottom line for me is the Fullblood Maine-Anjou we raise are a good commercial venture for our farm and we offer a superior product, whether beef or breeding stock, versus our competitors.

I include below websites that will give you more information on the breed.

Manitou Canadian site

Red of the Country The French Association site, not always working

Tasmania, Australia Interesting site from the island off Australia

Australia The Australian association website

European breed description Interesting information on the breed from Germany

Breed Information European perspective

sersia Site for the technical into breeding

American Maine-Anjou Association