The Fjall cattle is a dual-purpose breed that is raised for both milk and meat production. This breed comes from Sweden and goes by other names such as Swahili Mountain, Swedish Highland or Scottish Highland. The breed first appeared in the late 19th century and has ancestry as far back as the Viking era. When Vikings invaded Britain, it was bred to be whiter with shorter horns, creating what is now known as the British White breed.
They were first mentioned in 1296 AD. They nearly went extinct mainly in 1970-1980 due to crossbreeding from other animals. And the Swedish Mountain Breed Association was formed in 1995 and there has been a gradual increase since then.
Characteristics of Fjall Cattle
Fjall Cattle have the long coexistence so close to the man, also formed the typical character of these cows. They continue to be very meek and sociable, to the point that meekness today is considered a fundamental characteristic of the race.
The Fjall breed is characterized by its great ease of calving, remarkable fertility, good health of the udder and by the unique qualities of its milk, much sought after for its great performance in the manufacture of cheeses. This is explained by the high protein content in their milk. Qualities that make the milk of this breed especially attractive for cheeses.
Despite its small size, the Fjall cow weighs only around 400 kilos. And the average production of cowherds of this breed was 6.500 – 7.000 kg. for lactations of 305 days. The cows of this breed have a production of 40 liters per day. There are rodeos of 20 cows that produce more than 10.000 liters per lactation of 305 days. The lactations of these cows are even more remarkable, considering their small size. Although the first lactations produced by this breed are not usually of great production.
With each lactation they produce better, being some of them today in 36, 38 and 39 liters per day and closing their lactations with 7.000 liters or even more. Of stature similar to a Jersey cow, they are more snout. In fact, the male calf of the Fjall Cattle breed serves very well for fattening. All offspring of the Fjall race produced by crossing inherit the typical fur with a lot of dominance, just like the lack of horns. This breed has a very good yield for meat, excellent fertility.
The females of this breed almost all have birth intervals much lower than those of the other cows. In addition, they are almost always pregnant at the first insemination. This combined with good udders and good breast health, easy births and acceptable productions of milk with high solids, suggests that this small cow deserves to be taken into account.
The females of this breed are perfectly adapted to feeding with inferior quality pastures. Although they have less pressure for producing liters of milk in areas of more extreme climates than many “modern” breeds can support. You may also like to read Limousin Cattle.
For anyone interested in the manufacture of cheese or looking for a cow of small size, fertile, tame, long-lived and with good meat characteristics, Fjall cattle may be a more interesting breed.
The environment in Sweden is harsh and inhospitable climate. The landscape full of forests and stones, made both immigrants and cows learned to rummage around. In the summer the cows were take up in the mountains to take advantage of the pastures and tender shoots.
Some of these producers fed their cows like any commercial rodeo in Sweden: with many grains and concentrates. While others aimed at lower production, but taking advantage of the niche of “organic” milk, which in Sweden has a significant premium. You may also like to read Charolais Cattle.
But to access this surcharge, the milk must be produce basically base on hay or grass and only very little grain and the concentrate is added. The fact that cows can now eat abundant green grass has undoubtedly helped to improve production. In all the rodeos that I visited there were also outstanding cows.
What is most striking, apart from the surprising fertility of these cows, was that native of the Nordic countries with a climate so cold and inhospitable, it seems to be able to withstand the heat of summer without problems. Thanks to their incredible fertility, in general, the lactations of these cows are shorter than 305 days, since they usually re-impregnate very soon after giving birth.
And most of the intervals between births are only 11 months. In Sweden there is a small group of producers who believe in the qualities of the Fjall breed and keep breeding, selecting and milking. The solids content of their milk is high. With an average that varies during the year from 3.70% to 4.0% of protein and 4.8% – 5.0% of fat.
What makes this milk especially interesting and rewarding for the manufacture of cheeses. The Fjall cattle is a small race, both in size and numbers. In Sweden, there are only about 2.000 register Fjall cows, which is why it falls within the species in danger of extinction. You may also like to read Galloway Cattle.
Fjall cattle are a dual-purpose breed that comes from Sweden and goes by other names such as Swahili Mountain, Swedish Highland or Scottish Highland. The breed first appeared in the late 19th century and has ancestry that goes all the way back to the Viking era. When Vikings invaded Britain they bred it to be whiter with shorter horns, creating what is now known as the British White breed. If this guide was helpful please share!
As a reference: Wikipedia