Biodiversity & Endangered German Cattle Breeds

A list of endangered German cattle breeds.

A list of endangered German cattle breeds.

Historically, there has been a great deal of biodiversity in German cattle.  The greatest movement of cattle occurred with trade and migration.  Each valley and mountain settlement would have their own bloodlines, specifically chosen to thrive in the climate and forage in their regions.  As well, farmers developed beef, dairy and dual-purpose breeds; Germany has very high standards for record-keeping and production. Unfortunately, many of these breeds are endangered or are extinct. There has been an effort to preserve these breeds; the Heck breed was a Nazi effort to restore the extinct aurochs (the last of which died out in Poland in 1627).

When looking at the breed names of cattle (or rinder), they are referred to as rind or vieh.  As far as I can understand, the rind would be more specifically a beef breed, where cattle in general are referred to as vieh.  Many breeds refer to color–so a red cow is Rotvieh, a brown cow is Braunvieh (specifically the Brown Swiss), and a yellow cow is a Gelbvieh (also common in the U.S.).  Fleckvieh are spotted cows. There are also Neider- and Hohen- breeds, or lowland and highland cattle.

These were cows that we saw in the Landwassereck area of the Black Forest in Germany.  The pasture was temporary, as the fencing was electric hot wire.  The cattle must be frequently handled as they were pretty mellow and didn’t mind my picture-taking.  But who could blame them–the view is stunning!

Cattle at Hohengasthaus Landwasssereck, 2007.

Cattle at Hohengasthaus Landwasssereck, 2007.

Cattle resting.

Cattle resting.

Cattle outside the gasthaus.

Cattle outside the gasthaus.

Cattle in the Black Forest, 2007.

Cattle in the Black Forest, 2007.

 

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