Estonian Native breed cows not a good fit for intensive farming
The Estonian Native breed is the oldest dairy cattle breed in Estonia, having evolved over time from the local herd. The Muuluka Farm in Piirsalu, Lääne County, which was open to the public last weekend as part of Open Farm Day, is home to approximately 10 percent of the 760 Estonia Native breed cows.
According to the Estonian Native Cattle Breeders Society, there were approximately 20,000 Estonian Native (eesti maatõug) breed cows in Estonia prior to 1940. Today, due to intensive food production, only a small number of specially developed high-yielding breeds are kept on larger farms, and the Estonian Native is not one of them.
Muuluka Farm manager Viktoria Gošovski says that the Estonian Native cows are producing excellent milk.
"It differs in that it contains significantly more fat and protein. Despite the lower yield, these cows are incredible; they have a nice personality and are stubborn like true Estonians. And let's just say the milk is of exceptional quality, has a distinct flavor, and a thick consistency," Gošovski said.
The Estonian Native cattle breed is more resilient and less demanding than many other modern breeds. The herd has been grazing on leased grounds in Piirsalu for several years, as their previous location was not big enough. Gošovski inherited the cattle-raising business from her parents who had also been breeding the Estonian Native.
The Muuluka farm has twelve breeding bulls, as preserving this pure breed is also a matter of preservation of cultural heritage.
"More of them would be even better. We hope that we have shown that they are just like other breeds and that they could be used on larger farms as well. Each Estonian farm could have one or two of them," says Gošovski.
The Estonian Native cattle breed has been on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' list of endangered breeds since 1993.
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Editor: Kristina Kersa