Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Heck cattle outside Germany Pt. I: France

Undoubtedly, Heck cattle are most numerous in Germany, where they originated and are used in numerous grazing projects and zoos or farms. But from the 1980s on, Heck cattle were increasingly spread outside Germany. Members of the breed look more-or-less different in all countries, partly because of different selection by the breeders but also because of population genetics. If you fragment a population, the different alleles get spread by chance, and some of the subpopulations might have a higher rate of, partly recessive, features than others. So you will change the phenotype of a breed by spreading and fragmenting a breed inevitably, unless you select and exchange animals for a central desired objective - one would think this objective is the aurochs, but Heck cattle is not an example of an optimal realization of breeding back as you know… 

Heck cattle actually were quite popular in France before the "nazi cow" nonsense came up (more on that in a future post). France was the first country where a serious evaluation on phenotype on the local Heck cattle was done (by Claude Guintard), and you find them in a number of zoos, pastures but also grazing projects. Here you have some photos: 

As you see, the optic match with the aurochs is, like for most members of that breed, pretty mediocre. But there are worse Heck cattle (ok, the last ones are pretty bad). 
Have a look at this video which shows rather nice, swift and agile Hecks with a body as slender as in Maronesa and good colour (horns and probably size aren't good however): 

This site has pretty good animals too (Wörth lineage influence? UPDATE: Now I'm pretty sure that the bull below is a bull from Wörth): 

My congratulations to the breeder! 

When visiting Wörth, Walter Frisch (breeder of the Wörth lineage which is notable for their large and aurochs-like horns) told me that they sold their exquisite bull Aretto to french breeders, but unfortunately it died soon after a de-narcotization - I hope it passed on some of his good genes to this herd before his death. 

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