Limousin cattle come from the Limousin and Marche regions of France and are a breed of heavily muscled beef cattle. The breed is known in France as the Limousine.
Limousins were first shipped in large numbers from France in the 1960s and are now present in around 70 nations.
Naturally, they are horned and have a distinctive lighter wheat colouring to darker golden-red, while foreign breeders have now bred polled and black Limousins.
Initially used primarily as draught animals, about two hundred years ago, interest in limousines as a source of high-quality meat developed. In 1886, the first Limousin herd book was introduced in France to ensure the purity and enhancement of the breed by only recording and breeding animals that met a strictly enforced breed standard.
Due to their low birth weights (ease of calving), higher than average dressing percentage (ratio of carcase to living weight) and yield (ratio of meat to carcase), high efficiency of feed conversion, and their ability to produce lean, tender meat, limousines have become common.
A major multi-breed study recorded that Limousins were more effective and slightly faster than common British breeds and marginally faster than other popular continental European cattle breeds in turning feed into saleable meat.
In comparison, the other breeds of cattle provided proportionally more low-cost by-products and waste, resulting in faster growth of their live weight than Limousins. Due to their capacity to contribute hybrid vigour and boost the yield and feed conversion efficiency of these British breeds, which produce higher levels of fat and marbled meat, Limousins are particularly favoured for crossbreeding with cattle such as Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn.