A traditional Swedish dairy breed of cattle the Fjäll are a polled mountain breed. They are a small breed, with textual references going back to 1296AD, described as “small, hornless, white or whitish grey, often with dark spots".
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the breed was very nearly wiped out, though recovered when the breed association was formed in 1995. This was due to a revival through use of frozen semen. The breed have been said to be related to the endangered Bohuskulla breed, something recently confirmed by Microsatellite analysis. The first herdbook for the breed was started in 1907, while the breed was established in the 19th century.
The breed was crossed with other traditional Swedish breeds, such as in 1937 when it was crossed with the Swedish Red Polled to create the Swedish Polled. Breeders did not take well to this crossing and in fact, it was cross breeding which almost led to the demise of the breed. In 1995 there was reportedly only 400 breeding cows remaining, though this was increased to 6836 by 2012.
A dairy breed, the Fjäll are excellent milk producers, with an average yield of 5500kgs of milk per lactation. Some cows have been reported to give up to 12000kgs. Their milk is also of high-butterfat content, up to 4.5%. Protein content is usually around 3.6% and the milk is very rich in k-casein B, making it perfect for use in cheese production.
They were, however, rarely used in beef production due to their smaller size. Bulls weigh up to about 350kgs at full maturity and cows at 300kgs.
Historically, they were known to be grey/white in colour and hornless. These characteristics have changed minimally, though no they can be found in a few varying colours. They can be found white, speckled white with red or black, red or black, solid red, solid black or grey.
The pigmentation of their skin is white and the breed are very durable. This is due to the area where they originate, the mountains. They are very well adapted to mountain terrains and tough grazing pastures and are excellent foragers. A docile and very active breed, capable of travelling large distances.
You may never have heard of the Fjäll, though if you work in dairy it may be wise to do some more research into the breed. Thankfully still going strong and still footing the mountains in Sweden, the Fjäll.