Bulgarian Gray Cattle

Breeds and animal husbandry - Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Gray is an indigenous Bulgarian breed mainly found in the mountains of Strandzha, Sakar, Central Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains), Sashtinska Sredna Gora, Rila, the Rhodopes and in the regions of Shumen and Varna. The Bulgarian Gray cattle are medium-sized animals with powerful muscles. They are late-maturing animals that have a low reproductive capacity, and because of this, these cattle should be specifically bred to maintain and revive the current population. Bulgarian Gray cattle (BÅ­lgarsko sivo govedo, in Bulgarian) have a coat containing shades of dark to light gray, or rarely, that is yellowish; in the bulls the forepart of the body is colored darker, reaching to black. The horns are gray-white at the base, black-tipped and lyre-shaped. The average wither height in cows is 119 cm, while in bulls it is 129 cm. The live body weight is 340-410 kg in cows, 480-650 in bulls. Their economic use is for meat, draught animal power and milk. The period of lactation is circa 190 days, with average milk yield of 975 liters and fat content of 3.6-4.5%. The beef of this breed contains a good amount of fat to be suitable for sausage production, and it is one of two types of meat used for the production of Smyadovska lukanka, a traditional flat, dry cured sausage. The Bulgarian Gray cattle are a prehistoric breed originating from a cross between shorthorn (Bos taurus brachyceros) and longhorn (Bos taurus primigenius) cattle. The animals of the breed are rustic, with a high adaptability to environmental conditions, and they are famous for their long life. The breed was once widespread throughout all of Bulgaria. The millennia-long breeding of those animals under the same conditions easily explains their incredible resistance to the unfavorable environmental factors. This breed was the most used in the country up to the 1960s. Despite this, these cattle have been replaced by imported, more productive breeds, and are vanishing due to genetic erosion. According to The Executive Agency on Selection and Reproduction in Animal Breeding in Bulgaria, in 2011 there were just 1630 cows and 62 bulls in 41 herds.