Iran airlifts cattle from France to boost meat supplies

Press TV – Iran has imported a herd of Charolais cattle for the first time from France “with the aim of complementing its red meat production chain,” the Tasnim news agency reported on Saturday.

The air cargo of 310 heads of Charolais calves was delivered at the Payam International Airport in Karaj early Saturday, the news agency said, citing the public relations office of the Agriculture Bank of Iran which has funded the enterprise.

“The import of this breed compared with other races of the beef cattle is more cost-effective and the waste resulting from its slaughter is significantly reduced,” a statement issued by the bank said.

Charolais is a breed of beef cattle originating in eastern France, weighing in an average of 900 kilos for cows and 1,100 kilos for bulls. Their best advantage is their ability to thrive in changeable weather including in unusually harsh winter or exceptionally sweltering summer.

With significant chunks of Iran’s population concentrated around mountains, Charolais cattle are best suited to uneven or rugged and rocky terrain because of their sturdy hooves. That makes them an ideal substitute for the Holstein breed with a chequered record since its introduction to Iran.

The cattle also grow quickly, and are fast weight-gainers while their carcass is admired for high yield and good quality meat.

The introduction of Charolais cattle to Iran comes in the wake of a recent visit to France by Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud Hojjati who signed a number of MoUs on plant and animal breeding.

Iran’s Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud Hojjati (3rd L) visits a cattle breeding farm in France in this file photo.

French delegations interested in investing in Iran’s agribusiness were the first among foreign business groups flocking to Tehran after sanctions were lifted on the Islamic Republic in January 2016. Earlier this year, Iranian and French firms signed a contract for joint production and export of 1,000 tonnes of shrimp a year.

Under its development plan, Iran seeks to turn into a major food exporter.

In April 2015, the country imported a herd of Alpine and Saanen goats from France to boost its dairy production. An Agriculture Ministry official was quoted by the state news agency IRNA at the time that 10,000 heads of goats were planned to be imported.

The plan was to cross-breed the imported goats with local races to improve dairy production, the report said.

The French Alpines are highly adaptable animals as milkers with high cheese yields, thriving both on pastures and dry hay-fed conditions. Alpine bucks are also as good as meat breeds, with an ability to gain weight over a short period of time.