The Maremma cattle are a valuable breed of cattle of very ancient origin, crossed with bighorn cattle from the steppe, which arrived in Italy with the barbarian invasions. Today this breed is bred exclusively on the pastures of southern Tuscany and upper Lazio and is one of the emblems of the province of Grosseto.
The Maremma cattle are rustic and undemanding, extremely robust, resistant to diseases and parasites, know how to defend themselves against enemies, graze on dry soil in all seasons and use food resources that other cattle breeds would not be able to feed.
The fundamental characteristic that makes these cattle a symbol of the Maremma landscape are the large horns, up to 1 meter long, which distinguish the sexes: crescent-shaped in the males and lyre-shaped in the females. The horns are useful for animals to open a path in the most inaccessible areas of the forest, for bending undergrowth and vegetation until the foliage is lowered to ground level for the animals of the herd to eat, or to shield themselves from enemies. In fact, in the past, breeders also chose Maremma cattle for their ability to protect calves from wolf attacks.
Maremma cows have an udder that provides an abundant milk production (10-12 liters), which ensures a daily growth of the calf of about one kilo. They are long-lived cattle and even live up to 15-16 years. Adult cows weigh around 700 kilos, while bulls weigh between 800 and 1,200 kilos.
Historically, the breed was bred for a variety of reasons: excellent for meat, good milk producers, and most importantly, tireless at work. Due to their robustness, the animals were used to pull wagons for the transport of goods and people and to help with field work. With the advent of mechanization in agriculture, the number of animals declined drastically, to the point of extinction.
Thanks to the diet of spontaneous herbs that grow on the Maremma soil, the meat of Maremma cattle has a very intense and savory flavor, high protein content and moderate lipid presence, making it particularly suitable for anemic people and much appreciated by gourmets. The meat is one of the Slow Food specialties.
The Maremma cattle are the most authentic symbol of the Maremma and their history is closely linked to that of the Butteri, the traditional Maremma cowboys who once rode their magnificent horses to accompany the cows on their journeys from one pasture to another.