Piedmontese cattle have an interesting history that began in the secluded Piedmont region of northwest Italy, an area naturally protected by the Alps mountain range. This area was populated with an ancient European breed of cattle known as Auroch (Bos Primigenius) and later, their descendants known as Bos Taurus .
Approximately 25,000 years ago another breed of cattle, known as Zebu (Bos Indicus), began a massive migration from Pakistan. Their migration was halted in the valleys of the Piedmont region and the Alpine barriers. the Bos Indicus family of cattle are hardy animals that have greater resistance to certain diseases and parasites than the descendants of Bos Taurus, allowing them to thrive in areas that make survival difficult for other species of cattle.
These two distinct breeds, the Auroch and the Zebu, blended and evolved in the harsh mountain terrain over thousands of years to become the Piedmontese breed. In 1886, it was the appearance of double-muscling in Piedmontese cattle that attracted the attention of breeders, who had the foresight to recognize the enormous potential of this development. The Italian Herdbook was opened in 1887 and breeding programs designed to improve the herd and eliminate detrimental aspects associated with double-muscling were put in place.
The Myostatin gene was discovered nearly one hundred years later. It is this gene, which occurs naturally in all mammals, that restricts muscle growth. However, in the case of Piedmontese cattle, the gene naturally mutated resulting in the unrestricted muscle development known as double-muscling. In fact, muscle development in Piedmontese cattle averages 14 percent higher than in most other breeds. The Myostatin gene also helps to provide the consistent tenderness of Piedmontese beef.