Over the past few weeks, the world’s attention has been focused on Ukraine, and the plight of the refugees leaving the country. Many animal lovers—including countless numbers of people in the veterinary industry—are also very saddened by and aware of how the situation is affecting not only Ukraine’s people, but also its pets and wildlife. Ukraine actually has a very diverse animal population, and is home to a few specific breeds. A Wichita, KS vet discusses one of the bigger ones, the Ukrainian Grey Cow, below.
The Ukrainian Grey Cow is also known as the Ukrainian Grey Steppe or Ukrainian Grey Steppe cattle. It is an ancient Podolian breed, a descendent of a wild bull known as the Bos Taurus Pimigenius. The Podolian cattle group includes several types of wild grey steppe cattle that are native to the area around the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Some of the others that originated in Eastern Europe include the Hungarian Grey or Hungarian Steppe cattle, from Hungary; the Slavonian-Syrmian Podolian of Croatia; and the Sura de Stepă or Romanian Grey from Romania.
Ukrainian Grey Cows are quite large, with long legs and torsos. As the name suggests, they are usually grey. The bulls have darker fur on their necks, chests, and legs. As with other Podolian breeds, both the bulls and the cows have long horns, which have black tips.
The Ukrainian Grey are known for being both hardy and versatile. These guys are quite active, and are great foragers. They tolerate any climate well, which is a great feature in cattle. They are used for several purposes, including milk production and draught work. It’s worth mentioning that they usually produce high-quality milk, though this of course ultimately depends on their diet and care.
Back in the 1900’s, the Ukrainian Grey Cow was very popular on small Ukrainian peasant farms. However, by the middle of the century, horses had become more popular than oxen as draught animals. Since then, its numbers have steadily declined. Today, the breed is very rare. In fact, there are currently less than 1000 head alive today. Those low numbers put them at serious risk of extinction. However, conservation efforts have been ongoing since the 1960’s. We’re certainly rooting for them!
Do you have questions about caring for cattle? Contact us, your local Wichita, KS animal clinic, today.