The Piedmontese is a breed of domestic cattle that originated in the region of Piedmont, in north-west Italy. The calves are born fawn coloured, and turn grey-white as they mature. Piedmontese cattle carry a unique gene mutation identified as an inactive myostatin allele that causes hypertrophic muscle growth, or double muscling. They have garnered attention from breeders of beef cattle in other parts of the world, including North and South America. A small group of select Piedmontese bulls and cows were imported into Canada in the late 1970s, and into the United States in the early 1980s, and were used as the foundation breeding stock to develop a new breed of beef cattle known as North American Piedmontese cattle.
Until the late nineteenth century there were numerous local types of Piedmontese cattle, including the Canavese, the Della Langa, the Demonte, the Ordinario di Pianura and the Scelta di Pianura. They were triple-purpose cattle, raised principally for draught power, but valued also for meat and milk. A herd-book was opened in 1877, selective breeding towards a dual-purpose type began, and the Piedmontese became relatively uniform in character. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were about 680,000 Piedmontese cattle in Italy; by 1985 this had fallen to about 600,000. In 1957 the number registered in the herd-book was 851; by the end of 2011 it had risen to 267,243. In 2008 the total number in Italy was estimated at 300,000, of which 230,000 were registered