Stockbreeding between tradition and innovation,
ancient crafts and conservation of the territory

The Estate Le Piane consists mainly of woods used as grazing land for the Maremma cattle. The cattle live and are raised in a semi-feral state. Tenuta Le Piane is one of the few places in Tuscany where this breed of cattle is still raised for meat. Cows and bulls roam freely in parts of the estate’s forested area, totaling approximately 1,000 hectares, feeding on grass, shrubs and wild fruit in the pastures. The diet is supplemented with organic hay from the farm.

For better understanding: 1 hectare = 10,000 square meters = about a football field. Imagine 1,000 soccer fields!

The calves are born semi-wild between February and May and stay with their mothers until they are six months old. Calves destined for fattening are raised wild in the pastures where the diet consists mainly of herbs and shrubs. The nutrition of these calves is integrated with organic grain feed. The farm has a total of 180 animals, including 3 bulls, 77 cows and 100 calves, heifers and oxen.

The territory of Tenuta Le Piane is hilly and characterized by forests with a prevalence of oak species that give rise to coppice and Mediterranean scrub and pastures. For the diet of the Maremma cattle, tree species and shrub species such as downy oak, English oak, holm oak, cork oak, flowering ash, strawberry tree, heather and broom, which are typical of this area, are very important.

The Maremma cattle

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.

Vacche Maremmane e butteri TENUTA LE PIANE

Smell of leather and tough the secrets of a craft

Icons of the Maremma, the Butteri keep alive the ancient equestrian traditions. From sunrise to sunset the Butteri were tirelessly in the saddle; in all seasons, they braved the cold and the dew, the scorching sun, the dust and the weariness, and followed the herds along the paths that the hoofs had stamped over the years.

The term derives from the Latin “butoros” or “ox goad“. An irreplaceable figure in farms where large herds of Maremma cattle graze, the Buttero has been and still is the symbol, the emblem, the soul of this part of Italy. It keeps the millennia-old secrets of a craft handed down by old masters, stolen with the eyes and learned with devotion. The Buttero was the only one who, after the landlord, had the right to ride a horse, and on his inseparable horse he lived all his life, busy with the control, counting and movement of the herds. The typical clothing consists of moleskin, along with a wide-brimmed hat, a large cape called a “pastrano”, goatskin leg straps, cowhide boots, a long hook and the catana – a leather bag – both of which hang from the horse’s harness. So the Butteri tirelessly moved through marshes, thickets and through the green and narrow streets of the Maremma and controlled the herds of cattle.

The Butteri

The Butteri are still considered the best tamers of Italian wild horses. They have exceptional agility, reflexes and strength, which they demonstrate in taming foals, tagging calves and in challenges. Real rituals that display an original charm in the duel between humans and animals.

The work of the few butteri who stayed has changed a lot; but it is the Buttero who has the task of keeping the memories alive so that this magical and precious past is not lost when, in the clear days, the wild nature becomes the backdrop to the herds.

Do you want to know and see Maremma cows and Butteri?

Book the experience reserved for guests of the farm.