Friday, 11 September 2020

The Tauros cattle of Kettingdijk, Netherlands

On monday this week, Gerard vanne Smeed posted a blog article with many photos of the Tauros cattle from Kettingdijk in the Netherlands. Also with the link to the flickR page for more photos. It was awesome to the so many photos of a large Tauros cattle herd, as it is pretty hard to find good photos of the project on the web. 

The herd consists of crossbreeds and possibly also pure individuals of Limia and maybe also Maremmana as well as a pure Maronesa bull. The influence of Highland cattle still shows in a number of individuals that have the brindle coat colour pattern (see here or here for example). The Highland influence also shows in the colour and horns of this cow. Some individuals could easily be sold as Heck cattle, such as this bull or these cows. Interestingly, one bull is very pale-coloured, perhaps a combination of Maremmana and Highland colour alleles. There are also bulls with a correct colour such as this one. The adult bull on this photo also looks nice. Concerning the sexual dimorphism, there are lightly coloured cows but also many dark cows, bulls can be wholly black but about the half seems to have a colour saddle. So the sexual dichromatism is not very marked in the herd. Also, the bulls seem to be barely larger than the cows, which might be because they are not fully grown yet. All of the bulls seem to have a hump, which is good. The bulls are muscular overall, they just need longer legs. If I had to rank these Tauros cattle, I would say they are somewhere between Heck cattle and Taurus cattle. 

The Tauros Programme seems to have a different approach to the breeding. While most "breeding-back" projects breed by selecting a chief bull and selecting out individuals that do not fit the standards, the Tauros Programme seemingly let the cattle breed for themselves with many bulls in one herd, with barely any selection (the fact that there are still brindle individuals suggests to me that no selection has taken place yet, as this trait is dominant and easy to select out). Maybe the selection phase has not started yet. I think it is good that the cattle have bull competition in their breeding, as this enables natural selection, but I think this phase is too early for that. It will be very difficult to raise the quality* of the herds this way, except if all bulls were quality bulls. Again, maybe the selective breeding phase has not started yet and they will start selective breeding in the next months or years. 
*By quality I mean the resemblance to the aurochs in its morphological traits, not the surviving capacity, behaviour or other traits. 


  1. Thank you Daniel for paying attention to the cattle on the Kettingdijk in your blog. Your post has made it clearer to me which animals we are dealing with, because I have not been able to do that with many cattle. I am very pleased with that.
    If you agree, I also want to refer to your post.

  2. When you are interested in the Tauros cattle at the Loozerheide, I placed today a post. Link:

  3. Just a question about genetics and selection. You mentioned that the brindle coat is dominant and is easy to remove from a herd. Would it then not be wiser to leave it in as long as possible so you get a really good genetic mix and genetic diversity?
    My thinking is that it seems like a good strategy to avoid reaching genetic bottle necks and a loss of viability too early in the breeding process etc? If the trait is easy to remove from a herd it also seems more cost effective to remove it at a later stage rather than removing them (and with them a lot of other genes) and keeping on schlepping cattle back and forth on trailers to add new blood to the herd (to avoid inbreeding). As you know, bringing in new blood can also bring with it unwanted or hidden recessive genes from the incoming population and/or diseases which both mean you could possibly have to start all over again.
    Letting nature run it's course and then later removing the unwanted genes seems kind of similar to having sacrificial branches on bonsai tree. The temporary excess of (messy) branches are needed to strengthen the whole tree. The tree temporarily looks undesirable but you achieve overall harmony in the design once the branches are cut off. In bonsai growing you often can't achieve the same result without sacrificial branches or it would take years, maybe decades longer.

  4. Interesting article finding two primitive/ancient horse breeds

  5. Interesting article finding two primitive/ancient horse breeds

  6. this highland cow has one of the best aurochs like horns i have seen: