It takes Daniela Mollica and her husband Ian Walker well over five years to get one of their long-legged chianina cattle from paddock to the plate. So it’s no surprise that they currently can’t meet demand for their exceptionally lean beef. The couple has bred Chianina (pronounced kee-a-nee-na) – an Italian breed – for about five years on their farm in Victoria’s South Gippsland.
Chianina, which take their name from the val di Chiana – a valley in central Italy, are huge, handsome, lean, white beasts that are very slow to grow. The couple’s herd is full-bred – not full blood – which means they have been bred up from a crossbreed to a high percentage of Chianina genetics over a number of generations. That takes time. Calves are carried for nine months, and mating doesn’t happen before they’re two years of age. Chianina are also so large they are about two years old before they’re big enough for slaughter.
It’s a slow process. But the couple is in no rush. Mollica co-founded the Melbourne chapter of the Slow Food in 1996 before living and working in Italy for four years, where she was also involved in the Italian arm of the movement, so slow food is part of her make-up. And it’s part of the artisan philosophy behind the farm. Continue reading