Meat in Spain bore many symbolic meanings in different centuries – luxury, strength and power, etc. Today, meat as a food no longer has any special significance. Francisco Grande Covián (1908-1995), one of Spain’s most renowned nutritionists, stated that meat is not an essential ingredient in the human diet but that its nutritional properties and flavor have made it a feature of the diet of western countries.
European Beef – Spanish Native Cattle Breeds
Spain is offering well European Quality Beef from all different area of Spain. Each region has its own characteristics in terms of breeds, climates, terrain and pastures.
In Spain, all types of cattle and poultry are reared, especially chicken, reflecting the country’s great geographic and climatic diversity. In general, Spain is a dry country and, although there are green pasturelands in the north, much of the livestock that supplies the Spanish meat industry is reared intensively on cereals.
The climate in Spain is very varied and affects mainly the quality of pasture and the availability of water, but brings little interest to the fundamental phase of cattle production, which is the fattening with cereals and oilseeds of the highest quality.
There are, still a large number of native breeds that are reared in the traditional way in harmony with their natural environment. The European systems for protecting quality, especially the Protected Geographical Indications (PGI), have helped preserve their identity, allowing consumers to enjoy genuine flavors with clear identification and official protection.
This is the case of various beef cattle breeds from the damp, mountainous regions in the north such as the Rubia Gallega (PGI Ternera Gallega), Asturiana de los Valles (PGI Ternera Asturiana), Tudanca (PGI Carne de Cantabria), Pirenaica (PGI Carne de Vacuno del País Vasco and PGI Ternera de Navarra); also the Morucha (PGI Carne de Morucha de Salamanca), Retinta (PGI Carne de Extremadura) and Avileña Negra Ibérica (PGI Carne de Ávila) and PGI Carne de la Sierra de Guadarrama, from the drier parts of central and southern Spain where the climate is more extreme.
The most important part of production in Spain is the fattening phase with cereals (at least 150 days). Before entering Los Cebaderos (at 6-8 months of age), calves spend 4 months with the mother feeding on milk and 2-4 months adapting to future feeding in the fattening phase.
In Spain there are currently about 6.5 million head, of which about 2.5 million are slaughtered annually.
©PROVACUNO/Organización Interprofesional Agroalimentaria de la Carne de Vacuno