Breed of the Year
is listed as “extremely endangered” in the Red List of the German
Society for the Conservation of Old and Endangered Livestock Breeds and
has been elected “Endangered Breed of the Year 2007”. This election
has taken place since 1984 and shows in an exemplary way the threat to the
diversity of our indigenous livestock breeds that are to be conserved in
the wider sense of agrobiodiversity conservation.
is not only optically noticeable with its colouring ranging from blond to
reddish and black. It shows characteristics that make the breed special
amongst other cattle breeds, such as e.g. milk components that have
world-wide only been found in the milk of this breed, its very good meat
performance, its hard claws and its adaptation to humid sites accompanied
with high agility on steep mountain slopes. Until the 1960s, the famous
powerful and laborous draught oxen were in high demand. The sale of these
animals was the main animal-generated income for many farm enterprises.
Mechanisation has made the work of the oxen unnecessary for field work, in
the forests and for transport purposes. An important source of income
dwindled for the farmers of the region.
breed has already shown performance above average in earlier times. The
highest life performance was achieved by a female named Erika in the year
1988. The cow survived its 22nd birthday after having calved 17
times with 18 calves raised. Murnau-Werdenfels outdid all other dairy
breeds in Bavaria with an average age of 7.1 years. The fattening
performance of male calves was considerable, a daily increase of more than
1300 g was recorded.
present decline of the multi-purpose breed rich in tradition is mainly
caused by its low milk performance – the females of Murnau-Werdenfels
produce only 60% of the average German dairy cow’s milk yield. However,
top diary cows are found, too. Record holder is the female “Ankara”
with an annual milk yield of 8903 kg with 4.34 % fat.
presentation of Murnau-Werdenfels within the frame of the International
Green Week in Berlin and on many other occasions and in publications
during the year 2007 is meant to promote the breeds as future genetic
reserve and irretrievable cultural heritage. The Federal State of Bavaria
has early got in a sperm reserve of this breed, supports breeding
financially and maintains an own herd (suckling cow system). These
measures are, valuable as they are, not sufficient to secure the future of
the breed. The special situation of the breed requires to develop a
“silver bullet” considering the conservation of its specific
characteristics and at the same time a sustainable way to use it in the
future whilst applying a suitable and very tightly organised breeding
programme. Intensive cooperation of all stakeholders concerned is needed
to keep the breed as breeding population on German farms.
Pictures of the Endangered Breed of the Year 2007:
Murnau-Werdenfels cattle (zip-Files - <300dpi, jpg-files)
(GEH) - Tel.: 0049-5542-1864
© The Society for the Conservation of Old and Endangered Livestock Breeds (GEH)