Asturian Mountain

Asturian-MountainAsturian Mountain Cattle are a very ancient breed who is now becoming rare. These cattle were once extremely important in the Asturian region and must be preserved as a cultural artifact if for no other reason. Asturian Mountain Cattle were traditionally kept in transhumant systems in which herdsmen would drive them up into summer pastureland and back down into more temperate valleys to overwinter. Today, Asturian Mountain Cattle adapt very well to most extensive care systems and are valued for their docility and good behavior.

At maturity, Asturian Mountain bulls stand around 134 centimeters, and cows are around 120 centimeters. Bulls generally weigh around 750 kilograms and cows follow, at around 450 kilograms. Asturian Mountain Cattle are characterized by brown or cream coats. There is generally a light band around the eyes and muzzle, and the underside and innersides of the legs, including the perineum and udder, are usually very light. Eyelids, lashes and mucous membranes are generally black in Asturian Mountain Cattle, and bulls have black muzzles, horn buds and eye circles, tail switches and scrotum circles.

Asturian-Mountain1Usually, all Asturian Mountain Cattle have black hairs on the inner ear and the edge of their large dewlaps. Asturian Mountain Cattle, though small, have very deep abdomens and chests. Their limbs are quite short but their backs are muscular. The heads of Asturian Mountain Cattle are medium in size, and the forehead protrudes slightly. The ears are small and the horns curve up and forward, though the tips point back and out. The hooves of Asturian Mountain Cattle are very hard and round. The udders of cows are well developed with well-attached teats. 3,000 kilograms of milk per lactation should be expected from Asturian Mountain Cattle, and a carcass yield of more than 50 percent may be expected from a 19-month-old steer.

Asturian Mountain Cattle are called Asturiana de la Montaña in their native country. They are also known as Casina or Asturiana Oriental Cattle. Originating from Asturia in Spain, the Asturian Mountain breed is thought to be related to the Asturian Valley breed. They have been selectively bred by cheese making farmers for their milk production, although today, Asturian Mountain Cattle cannot compete with many commercial breeds.

In order to breed high producing milk cattle, bulls from Spain’s Caso region were bred with Asturian cows, and the Asturian Mountain breed resulted. The herd book was established in 1978 and today, there are around 5,000 Asturian Mountain Cattle registered. They are highly valued as cross breeders who impart general hardiness to cattle kept in extensive management systems. Traditionally, Asturian Mountain Cattle are kept in communal pastures from April to December, and are usually owned by small holdings farmers. They graze there and in the winter when graze is scarce, Asturian Mountain Cattle are fed dried grass saved from the warmer seasons.

Asturian Mountain Cattle are usually very good calvers and rarely, if ever, need assistance. They are highly valued as cross breeders and are quite fertile. Bulls are used for breeding by two and a half years of age. At birth, Asturian Mountain Cattle weigh around 23 kilograms. They have a daily gain on the feed lot of about a kilogram each day. Asturian Mountain Cattle have low rates of calf mortality and fairly good calving intervals, in addition to a low age at sexual maturity.