Irish livestock agent David Clarke has flown four giant Chianina cattle from Europe to Dubai in an international deal worth tens of thousands of euro.

The enormous white cattle – three heifers and a bull – are to be bred as a small herd by their new owner.

The Chianina breed is renowned as one of the oldest and biggest breeds of cattle in the world.

Mature bulls easily reach 1,500kg in weight and cows make 1,000kg. Calves are born at around 50kg and can gain 2kg/day.

The heifers and bull were trucked from Italy to Belgium and loaded into separate timber transport crates at Liege airport.

The four purebred cattle pictured are seen as a trophy purchase and, although Clarke would not reveal details of the buyer, it is believed that there are royal connections to the sale.

Great importance is attached to owning the biggest possible white or black and white animals in the Middle East.

“It is a great honour in Saudi and those countries to have the biggest white or black and white animal – not any other colour,” Clarke told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“These animals will be staying on a large dairy farm in the United Arab Emirates and will be bred among themselves. The heifers chosen are all unrelated to the bull.”

The heifers wait for their turn to be loaded into the cargo hold of the plane.

The cargo hold of the plane, where the four heifers and a bull were transported alongside other goods.

Clarke, who runs his livestock trading business through, worked with Conor Ryan of Dovea AI to secure the Chianina cattle.

Ryan visited the farm of the Italian breeder of the heifers to view their sire Angelo, who weighs in at a hefty 1,700kg.

“I got a phone call from Dubai asking if I could source Chianina cattle. I said ‘yes, we can’, because you never say no, and then we started investigating,” explained Clarke.

“Conor had a contact who deals with Dovea for semen and the whole thing was organised in about six weeks.”

Conor Ryan of Dovea Genetics is pictured with Angelo, the 1,700kg sire of the exported heifers, in Italy.

The four cattle, aged 12 months and weighing 480kg, were trucked from Italy to Belgium, where they were loaded into two separate crates and into the cargo hold of the plane at Liege airport.

The Dubal deal is not the first unusual request Clarke has received, with a number of enquiries from Pakistan and India for small numbers of dairy cows.

Chianina: about the breed

  • Originally a draught breed and often depicted in ancient Roman sculpture, Chianina cattle are now bred for meat.
  • Mature bulls can easily weigh 1,500kg and cows 1,000kg.
  • Calves are born at around 50kg and can gain 2kg/day.
  • In terms of height, cows can measure over 160cm at the wither and bulls grow to over 180cm or even 190cm tall.
  • Cattle are usually slaughtered at 16 to 18 months of age and 600kg or more in weight. Carcase yields are around 65%.
  • The Tuscan steak bistecca alla fiorentina comes from the Chianina and is traditionally a steak at least two inches thick and weighing 800g to 1.2kg.
  • In some countries the Chianina is crossbred with Angus to create the Changus, with Hereford to give a Chiford and the Maine Anjou to give Chimaine offspring.
  • This picture clearly shows the sheer size of a Chianina carcase:

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