No other breed has impacted the North American beef industry so significantly as Charolais. This rugged, meaty breed has changed beef production concepts as much or more than the original British breeds did for the gaunt Longhorn in the American Southwest more than a century ago. You only have to tour a few of the most significant commercial cattle herds, view a few of the largest feedyards, or talk to the most prominent packers to get a feel for the impact the Charolais has on the industry.
Charolais cattle continue to positively impact the cattle industry in other countries as well, finding popularity in some of the most inhospitable regions while successfully adding attributes such as adaptability, growth and carcass quality.
The formal development of the Charolais Breed, began during the 16th and 17th century. Originating in the French district of Charolles, Charolais cattle were associated with the superior meat quality that could be found in the local markets of Lyon and Villefranche. In 1773, after the French Revolution, Claude Mathieu, a cattle breeder from the Charolles region, moved to the Nevere province, taking with him his herd of Charolais. The breed flourished so well that the cattle were known more widely as Nivernais cattle.
It was in 1864 that Count Charles De Boulle developed the first known herdbook near the village of Magny-Cours. Breeders in Charolles worked together and established a herdbook 1882. Beginning in 1919 the the Charolles breeders merged thier records into the first book and a new herdbook was established and maintained.
During the 1930’s, soon after World War I a young Mexican industrialist, of French name and ancestry, imported 29 Charolais females and 8 Bulls to his ranch in Mexico. This importation was the first introduction of Charolais to the Americas. Until the 1960’s All the Charolais cattle in Mexico, the United States and Canada were descendants of this initial Peugibet herd.