Animal breeding has always been the tradition, thanks to an environment where tableland, hills, and mountains favour rational and coordinated development of pasture resources.
According to the latest statistics, over 400,000 head of cattle, almost 900,000 pigs, 30,000 sheep and 15,000 goats, almost 10 million chickens and more than 1.5 million rabbits are bred in this province. These figures alone confirm the importance of the breeding activity.
It is in the Cuneo region that the indigenous Piedmontese breed of cattle, once used for the production of milk, meat and labour, has evolved the most and, today, is bred mainly for the production of top quality meat, suitable for the preparation of tasty local dishes such as raw meat salad or boiled meat. Many stockbreeders follow disciplinary production regulations, strict and in line with tradition, established by the "Consorzio di Tutela della Razza Piemontese" (COALVI) (Association for the Protection of the Piedmontese Breed).
One particular production is represented by the Bue grasso di Carrù (fatted Ox of Carrù), of castrated Piedmontese breed, which is brought in heavy weights and sold on occasion of the Fatted Ox Fair of Carrù in December and for which PDO designation is in course.
Among the sheep, there is the Agnello Sambucano, (Lamb of Sambuca), the autochthonous breed of the Valle Stura (Stura Valley), which in the 80s had almost disappeared in and was then retrieved thanks to intelligent work of the entire local community with the founding of the Farmers' Association "L'Escaroun", and an ecomuseum dedicated to sheep farming.
According to an old saying, no part of the pig is thrown away, so every farming family once bred and slaughtered pigs, using the meat above all for cold meat products and salami, which could be stored and thus eaten over long periods of time. This is why there is such a wide range of different types of salami according to the different areas. Today, most of the heavy pigs bred in the Cuneo region are intended for the supply of pig thighs used for the preparation of PDO Parma and San Daniele hams. However, we are experiencing a return to the traditional cold meat activities. In fact, a procedure is in course for PDO Cuneo designation for: Raw Ham, Cooked Salami, Lard and Pork Underbelly.
In 2006, Salame Piemonte obtained provisional protection, just as Gran Suino Padana, which wants to highlight the value of the other pork cuts, and not only thighs. We must not, however, forget the other traditional pork salamis, among which there is the Sausage in its various aromatic versions, the Cotechino (Large Boiled Sausage), a non-storable salami, to be eaten cooked and served with mashed potatoes or lentils; the Sanguinaccio (Black Pudding), made with blood and a variety of ingredients, all products which can be found only in the form of artisan preparations in specialised shops. Among the other products there is the Bra Sausage, mainly veal-based, to be eaten raw, and the Bale d'Aso, a large salami typical of the Monregalese area based on various kinds of meats. One particular dish that can be found in any restaurant is Batsuà or Piutin (small fried pig paws).
Furthermore, thanks to the creation of measures in favour of Slow Food, the movement of rediscovery and recovery of the local traditions has led to the recovery of forgotten breeds or productions, such as poultry breeds, once found in our grandmothers' hen houses: the White Hen of Saluzzo and the Yellow Piedmontese Hen. These breeds are used to produce the Cappone of Morozzo, a surgically castrated male chicken, with crest and wattles removed, bred specially for Christmas, and characterised by its tender and tasty meat.
Then there are the highly appreciated and popular snails bred in Cherasco, home place of the Snail Farming Institute, and in Borgo S.Dalmazzo an extraordinary mountain species is bred, based on which an old traditional trade fair is held annually. The Trout is another breed also very popular in the province, thanks to the clean limpid waters running down from the Alps .