About Podolica Cattle
The Podolica breed is
a descendent of the bos Primigenius Podolicus, very large-sized long-horned
cattle thought to have been domesticated in the Middle East during the fourth
century BC. There are two theories about the origin of Podolica cattle.
According to one, the Podolica derived from cattle that came to Italy in 452 BC
following the Huns who, along their way from Mongolia, passed through the
Ukrainian steppe, which can be considered the true birthplace of the Podolica
breed. Instead, another theory states that as far back as the first century BC,
there existed long-horned cattle from Crete, an area that, even in the Minoan
age, had macroceros cattle which can be identified as bos primigenius. The
Podolica breed has spread throughout an area that mainly covers the inland
territories of southern peninsular Italy (Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria,
Campania, Molise and Apulia). The breed numbers 100,000 head, 25,000 of which
are listed in the Italian Herd Book of ANABIC, the association responsible for
the development and selection of this breed. One of the outstanding
characteristics of this cattle is its exceptional ability to adapt to
particularly difficult environments, as well as its extraordinary capacity to
utilize food resources that would not otherwise be used. In fact, this cattle
is able to make the most of shrub-covered grazing areas as well as stubble and bush
areas, using the leaves of shrubby elements, tree shoots and grassy underbrush.
Association of Italian Beef-Cattle Breeders (ANABIC - www.anabic.it) was established to promote and implement all
types of initiatives aimed towards improving, developing, ad spreading the
autochthonous Italian cattle breeds: Marchigiana, Chianina, Romagnola,
Maremmana and Podolica. ANABIC, which came about by merging the previously
existing individual National Breed Associations, has taken on their
responsibilities as far as selection is concerned and has set up a single
National Herd Book for the Italian beef-cattle breeds.
There are currently
21.000 head of cattle.
It has been present in
Italy for a very long time and represents yet another example of successful
biological adaptation to hostile environment. The breed is widespread over a
rather vast area that includes all of southern Italy. As a result, this has
caused a great deal of variability in its size and in the color of its coat,
which can range from white to dark gray. Pigmentation is black.
The podolica has a
lightweight skeletal structure with slender legs, excellent perpendicularity
and strong feet. Adult bulls weigh from 600 to 800 kg.
The Podolica was long
used mainly in a work capacity and only secondarily for beef and dairy
products. In fact, its milk is ideal for producing the famous
"caciocavallo' cheese. Subsequently, with the rise and spread of agricultural
mechanization, the selective trend of this breed became geared more towards
beef production and, to a lesser extent, towards dairy production, particularly
in certain areas. As far as the reproductive aspect is concerned, age at first
calving is rather advanced (about 3 years). This is due primarily to the
breed's harsh habitat, which can be noted above all during the heat of the
summer months, which significantly decreases the amount of food resources
available and thus slows down the growth of younger animals. Nevertheless, this
type of cattle develops a long reproductive career, breeding for over ten years
with an average time span of fifteen months between calvings. For the most
part, calvings are spontaneous and are concentrated during the springtime.
Calves are suckled for at least four months. The calves are then weaned in
order to be sold for slaughter at around 15-16 months, with weights ranging
around 300-350 kg. In some cases, as far as males are concerned, heavier
bullocks are produced and these subjects are slaughtered at around two years of
age, at a weight of 500 kg.
A robust and frugal
breed comparable to the Maremmana, it is capable of exploiting grazing areas
covered with shrubs, stubbles and thickets. It is characterized by its docile nature,
outstanding maternal capability and long reproductive career.
Calves are born
spontaneously and weigh an average of 30 kg at birth.
Cows reach a weight of
400-500 kg by adulthood and produce plenty of milk rich in fat, which in some
areas is used to make highly prized soft cheese.
Content and photo source: Agraria.org