Podolica Cattle Characteristics, Uses & Origin

The Podolica cattle are a triple-purpose breed of domestic cattle from southern Italy which are raised for beef, draught and milk purposes. The breed belongs to the Podolic group of grey cattle and raised primarily in the regions of Puglia, Molise, Campania, Calabria, Basilicata and Abruzzo.

But the breed was previously distributed throughout most of mainland Italy and as far as Istria (now part of Croatia). In the Istria, the Podolica cattle breed is now regarded as a separate breed, named as Istrian cattle.

In the past, the Podolica cattle breed was used primarily as a draught animal. But with the mechanization of agriculture, demand for draught oxen disappeared. And the Podolica cattle are now being raised for meat and milk production purposes.

Exact origins of the Podolica cattle are not known. But it has been suggested that it derives from cattle of the Podolian steppes of eastern Europe, as with other European grey cattle breeds (possibly brought to Italy by invading Goths in the fifth century AD or by the Lombard king Agilulf in the sixth century).

A herdbook for the breed was established in 1984. Total population of the Podolica cattle were estimated at 100,000 head in 2008, of which about 25,000 were recorded in the herdbook.

And the total registered number in the herdbook was 27,509 at the end of 2013. Today the breed is considered to be at risk from indiscriminate cross-breeding with bulls of specialized meat cattle breeds. Read more information about the breed below.

Podolica Cattle Characteristics

Podolica cattle are medium sized animals with black colored skin. Their coat color is usually grey or black switch. Bulls and cows are pretty different in coloration. The bulls are darker and may be almost black, while the cows are pale grey tending to white.

Like most other grey cattle breeds, the calves are born wheat-colored. But they soon become grey at about three months. Both bulls and cows usually have horns. Their horns are half-moon shaped in bulls and light and lyre-shaped in cows.

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Average height of the bulls is about 150 cm at the withers, and about 145 cm in cows. The cows on average weight about 650 kg. And average body weight of the Podolica bulls is about 800 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.

Uses

Previously, the Podolica cattle were kept and used for draught work. But currently, they are being used for milk and meat production purposes.

Special Notes

The Podolica cattle are a very hardy and strong breed of cattle. They are a rustic breed and are capable of surviving on harsh terrain and also on poor pasture.

The animals can exploit food sources that would not otherwise be used, including stubble, scrub and maquis, and woodland undergrowth. They were previously used for draught purposes.

But after the Second World War, demand for draught oxen disappeared mainly because of the progressive mechanization of agriculture.

And now the Podolica cattle breed is mainly used for milk and meat production purposes. Meat of these animals is considered to be of very high quality, and carries a registered mark of quality.

The Podolica cows are pretty good milk producers. On average, they can produce about 1500 kg of milk per lactation, sometimes even more. Review full breed profile of the Podolica cattle in the chart below.

Breed NamePodolica
Other NameNone
Breed PurposeMilk, meat, draft
Special NotesStrong, hardy, good milkers, capable of surviving on harsh terrain and poor pasture
Breed SizeMedium
BullsAbout 800 kg
CowsAbout 650 kg
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Coat ColorGrey, black switch
HornedYes
Milk YieldGood
RarityCommon
Country/Place of OriginItaly

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