Podolian Cattle

Breeds and animal husbandry - Serbia

The Podolian cattle breed was developed from Tur, European wild cattle (Bos primigenius), and it is believed to have developed out of cross-breedings within Serbia or to have arrived with invaders to the area or during large migrations as early as the 4th or 5th centuries. By the 14th century, Podolian cattle were well established in the Carpathian Basin and Pannonian Plain in northern Serbia, where extensive livestock husbandry was the main occupation. As available pastureland decreased in 18th and 19th centuries and mechanization of processes in agriculture in 20th century, the number of Podolian cattle, which were also used as draft animals, also decreased. The Podolian breed is known for its adaptability to extreme conditions and for its strength and hardiness, and has also been used to create the Kolubara breed, a cross between Busha and Podolian cattle. Young, female cows are gray, while males are darker in color. Calves initially have reddish coats, fading to gray at 2-6 months of age. Adult males weigh on average 800 kg, and females 500 kg, with an average wither height of 150 cm and 135 cm respectively. Podolian cattle have very long horns (up to 100 cm in length). Although they may look clumsy, they can run very quickly, especially when frightened. These cattle have a life expectancy of 25-30 years. Females calve easily and have an average dairy production of 800-1000 liters. These cattle are slow growing and so expensive to raise, but offer high quality, flavorful meat that his high in protein and iron and low in fat content. Milk production is sufficient for calves, but with a low output compared to breeds used for industrial dairy production. Unfortunately for producers, it is difficult to sell high quality, and therefore more expensive, products in the Serbian market in current economic conditions; however, future export possibilities to neighboring countries may offer opportunities in the future. Currently in Serbia, Podolian cattle beef is used in the production of only one type of dried, smoked sausage, and by some local restaurants in typical dishes like goulash. More cured meat products exist in neighboring Hungary. While it can also be found in parts of Italy, in Serbia this breed is only found in the Carpathian Basin and Pannonian Plain. It is currently categorized as “endangered-maintained.” The Nature Conservation Movement of Sremska Mitrovica started a serious conservation program raising Podolian cattle in 1998. At that time, only one more herd of these cattle still existed in Serbia. By 2014, about 80 Podolian cattle were being raised on the pasture of Valjevac in Zasavica Reserve on 300 ha. A lower productivity and the disappearance of the working role have severely threatened the future of this breed. Government subsidies have helped to maintain it, but with the loss of government support, its survival in Serbia is uncertain.