Finncattle is the name given to a group of three closely-related bovine breeds from Finland.
Dual-purpose breeds, they are primarily raised for meat and milk production, though are often kept in zoos or as pets. Finncattle, as mentioned, is divided into three closely-related sub-species, Eastern Finncattle, Northern Finncattle and Western Finncattle.
Western Finncattle -The Western variation of the breed is usually red in colour. They are a polled breed and the largest of the three variations. This variation produces the most milk per lactation of all the breeds, producing up to 6,100kgs of milk with 4.4% fat and a protein content of 3.5%. There are an estimated 5,000 head of Western Finncattle remaining, the most prevalent of all the Finncattle breeds.
Eastern Finncattle - Another dual-purpose form, Eastern Finncattle resided in Eastern Finland. They are a speckled breed, red and white in colour. The breed was only first recognised in the 1890’s as its own breed and there are an estimated 300 head remaining. The breed can produce up to 4,100kgs of milk per lactation at 4.4% fat and 3.5% protein.
Picture - pirjolam
Northern Finncattle - This variation has only approximately 600 specimens remaining and they can be traced back to cattle who lived in Northern Finland thousands of years ago. According to legend, the first form was born from the water of a well in the region. The Northern Finncattle breed are usually white in colour and are very small. They can produce anything up to 4,000kgs of milk per lactation. Herds of the breed are now kept at prison farms in Finland, while recent genetic studies have shown that the breed shares ancestry with Icelandic cattle, Western Fjord Cattle and Swedish Mountain cattle.
Picture - Tori.fi
By the mid 19th century, the three forms of Finncattle was established as three separate breeds. The first Finncattle herdbook was only created in 1905. Populations began to decline around the same time, due in part to the emergence and popularity of continental dairy breeds within Finland and the World War. This led to the merging of the three Finncattle studbooks in 1946.
The war mainly affected the numbers of Northern and Eastern Finncattle, with thousands slaughtered. Breeding of Finncattle was significantly affected by the War, as there were few breeding bulls remaining after its conclusion. Inbreeding is now a big problem for Finncattle breeders.
Uses and Characteristics -
As mentioned, the three forms of the small-medium sized breeds, which are raised for milk and meat production.
They produce an average of 4,000-5,000kgs of milk per lactation, with protein contents of 3.5% and a fat content of 4.4%. In fact, their milk and meats are found in speciality shops throughout Finland. Their milk is known to have a higher quantity of fat, fatty acids and Kappa casein type B than other dairy cattle breeds, higher than any other Finnish breed. It is often used in the production of traditional Finnish fresh cheeses.
They are often used for beef production purposes, despite their small stature. They are very hardy breeds and have adapted to the Finnish climate with relative ease. The breeds are known to have great longevity and are extremely fertile. The three forms of Finncattle are usually polled.
Three of the world’s rarest breeds in one, Finncattle maybe be small, but they sure are powerful.