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Pontremolese cattle - Dr. Alessio Zanon RARE Association
It is the Italian Bovine breed with the lowest number of specimens, all gathered at three companies in the Garfagnana area, outside the ancient breeding area located in the valleys of the Magra and Vara rivers, located in the provinces of Massa Carrara and La Spezia.
Around 1940 the number of heads was around 15000 to pass in 1960 to 5700 until reaching the definitive collapse of the population, 13 heads surveyed in 1983, to then settle at the current 45 heads.
The Pontremolese breed is registered in the AIA register of autochthonous breeds at risk of extinction and enjoys government incentives as well as being at the center of a specific safeguard project by the Tuscany Region for which ARSIA Tuscany is responsible.
According to many scholars, it had affinities with local ethnic groups of Emilia Romagna (Bardigiana, Valtarese, Cornigliese) all attributable to an Iberian-type population settled in the hilly and mountainous areas of the Apennines.
Unfortunately of the Emilian Breeds, only the memory and some faded photos remain and even in the Pontremolese area only a few remember the strong Bettolesi oxen, tireless companions of the local farmers who practiced poor but extremely diversified agriculture.
A proper use of the breed was the use in the Carrara area for the transport of the precious marbles from the Apuan Alps to the sea for boarding.
Loaded fromentino cloak with light stripes on the back and loins, dark gradations on the head and neck especially in the male. Musello slate limited by white edging, elliptical horns directed laterally and upwards in the bull and lyre-shaped shortened in the female. The color of the horns is yellowish white at the base and black at the tip.
Given the great rusticity, this breed would adapt very well to the Cow-calf breeding system in marginal areas for the production of fattening animals. In this regard, a special brand has been established since September 1999 "Beef from Garfagnana and Valle del Serchio" which also brings together the production of another local breed at risk (Garfagnina).
Considering the breed's aptitude for producing useful milk, it would be to link this production to a typical local product. Limit to this initiative is given by ex-situ conservation which does not allow a true cultural and productive recovery of the breed.
What to do to save it?
Currently the finding of animals of this breed is problematic but nevertheless it seems important to keep a strong attention on the fate of this breed, keeping alive the memory with the hope to see soon the small and angular cowhide returning to graze on the mountains of Pontremoli.
Where to find it
For information on farms and the safeguard project:
- ARSIA Tuscany Rita Turchi, Natale Bazzanti Via Pietrapiana 30 Florence
Tel 05527551 fax 0552755234
- Tuscany region
via Novoli, 26 50100 - Florence (FI)
Tel .: 055-438.2111 E-mail: [email protected]
Dr. Alessio Zanon-University of Parma
Pontremolese cow (photo CNR)