By Katelyn Asfeld, Ag Writer
When you drive eastward on Highway 55 toward South Haven, you will see a sign with the words “Riverview Ranch” and “Normande Beef.” Some might not even see it; others will dismiss it without any thought, while some may ask, “What is Normande?”
Bob Lange and his wife Diana own Riverview Ranch and raise around 30 head of Normande beef cattle. Normande cattle are not very common in the United States; only 3,000 purebreds exist in the country.
The Normande cattle breed originated in France. The first Normande cattle came into the U.S. in 1964. They are known for their good temperament, their feed efficiency, longevity, and high butterfat and protein content in their milk. They have distinctive markings and can vary in color. Bob explained that every cow has different markings that make them unique. No two cows looks the same.
Before buying Normande beef, Bob raised Angus, Simmental and Charolais. He bought his first two Normande heifers at the Beef Expo in Des Moines Iowa in 1968 just four years after the breed came into the United States. Bob was the first in Minnesota to have this breed. He has continued breeding and raising Normande beef ever since.
Bob explained that these cattle, even the bulls, are very easy-going and fun to work with. He described being chased out of feedlots by the other cattle he had, but never with Normande cattle.
This breed of cattle works for Bob because of their longevity (up to 10 years in dairy cattle), their feed efficiency (4.7 pounds of feed to every 1 pound gained), calving ease and vigor (Bob told me of a story of a cow that gave birth to twins at 18 years old), climatic adaptability, high roughage performance, and lean easy-grading carcasses. They also are used in cross-breeding with other beef breeds.
Bob keeps five purebred heifers and bulls for breeding stock, and the rest he feeds out for meat sales or sells them. He sells the meat all over the state and country. The beef he raises is natural with no added growth hormones. Bob’s cattle take about 15 months to grow out to 1,300 pounds, and they are sold on average $1,500 a head. Breeding stock can range from $1,600-2,000.
Bob is the president of the North American Normande Association (NANA). As president, he conducts two meetings a year, participates in teleconferences, and attends certain events. The goals of NANA are improving the breed through genetics and registration and to make the breed well-known in the United States. They also post classifieds on their website to promote the sales of livestock.
France and Colombia have the highest population of Normande beef. Normande is a dual-purpose breed: they are used for both dairy and beef production.
Before the cattle can enter the United States, the animals need to be quarantined for three months and tested for disease. The importation of semen and embryos from France is becoming an increasingly popular method of breeding. Artificial insemination is quicker, easier, and gives greater genetic progress and variety.
For more information: North American Normande Association, 748 Enloe Rd., Rewey WI 53580; tel. (608) 943-6091; web www.normandeassociation.com.