Rhodope Shorthorn Cattle
Breeds and animal husbandry - Bulgaria
Rhodope Shorthorn cattle (Rodopsko kŭsorogo govedo) are one of two indigenous breeds of cattle still found in Bulgaria today. This breed is the one with the smaller population. The main area of distribution is the Eastern Rhodopes, mainly in the municipalities of Krumovgrad, Momchilgrad, Zlatograd and Madzharovo. It is mainly used for dairy production, but also for meat and as a work animal. The average Rhodope Shorthorn cow has a small, elongated and well-constructed body, with coats that can be of many shades, including brown, black, gray and blonde. The head is medium large, proportional to body, elongated and narrow, with a slightly concaved profile line. The horns are white with black tips, thin, fragile, of small circumference at the base and even thickness along the length. The average wither height in cows is 104 (91-115) cm, while in bulls is 115-125 cm. The live body weight ranges from 80 to 220 kg in cows, 350 to 400 kg in bulls. The period of lactation is about 250 (220-260) days, with milk yield for a 305-day period of 900-1000 liters and a fat content of 4.5-5.0 %. Rhodope Shorthorn cattle are an extremely primitive form of Bos taurus brachyceros. It is one of the last representatives of the prehistoric cattle of Europe. Rhodope Shorthorn cattle are particularly well suited for year-round outdoor breeding. The small body and well-developed limbs give great agility to the cattle, which allows them to climb and graze on the steep mountainsides. In Bulgaria the breed was originally distributed throughout the whole country, but in the plains it was progressively replaced by the Bulgarian Gray cattle. It is still found in the rocky slopes and valleys of the Rhodope Mountains. From early spring to late autumn the animals graze exclusively on pasture. The main source of feed is natural meadows and pastures, which are located on the slopes and have a poor forage composition. Grasses are dominating and they are used for hay. By 2011, the Rhodope Shorthorn cattle was represented only by 698 cows and 34 bulls in 41 flocks under breeding control.The breed has endangered-maintained status due to replacement by newer hybrid breeds. The government funds the preservation and maintenance of this unique Bulgarian cattle breed, offering assistance and professional advice to those interested in maintaining this traditional and rare cattle.