Grauvieh Cattle

Tiroler Grauvieh or Tyrolese Grey Cattle

In October of 2009 we inquired with the Tiroler Grauviehzuchtverband in Austria – the breed association of the Tiroler Grauvieh cattle – about importing semen of that breed into Canada. After four months of planning, preparation,and paperwork the Government of Canada granted permission for the import. 110 staws of two proven, small-framed Tiroler Grauvieh bulls arrived in late February 2010 and are banked for careful use. In September 2011 the first calf was born. This is the very first time this breed has set foot on North American soil.

Quintus and Arcus - the first Grauvieh-sired calves in Canada

The Tiroler Grauvieh symbolizes an awakening in farming. It is an ancient breed who’s rediscovery marks a revival of local, self reliant, sustainable, low impact, low input farming. It is a necessary regression in order to save ourselves, preserve a future for our children, preserve our nature as humans, and to make progress as humankind and as intelligent beings.

Tiroler Grauvieh is one of the oldest, now rare, cattle breeds of the Alpine area. It is a particularly robust, pure-bred breed which is well adapted to the animal husbandry of the Tyrolean alpine pastures. As multi-purpose breed it is suitable for dairying as well as beef production.

The uni-coloured coat of Tiroler Grauvieh is silver to iron-grey, sometimes brownish-grey, with primitive markings of a lighter underside and dark highlights. Bulls and cows often have a lighter “saddle” with striking dappling. The skin is black. Special characteristics are a red shock of hair, black horn tips and black, hard hooves. Adult animals have a withers height of 130 cm for bulls and 125 cm for cows. Live weight is about 2,000lbs. for bulls and 1,200lbs. for cows.

These cattle are characterized by a good forage instinct and feed conversion. They are robust, long-living, very fertile and lively. Moreover, they are tolerant to extreme conditions such as low temperatures, extreme variation in temperature and high solar irradiation.

The ancestors of today’s breed were kept in the region which is Austria today as early as about 1000 B.C. In the Schmirntal (Schmirn Valley) the keeping of cattle on pastures is known from pre-Roman times. The Roman authors Strabo (about 63 B.C. – 23 A.D.) and Plinius the Elder (about 23 B.C. – 79 A.D.) reported on the high milk yield of these “Alpine cows”. The domestic animal breed Grey Alpine (“Grey cattle”) was first classified in detail by F. Kaltenegger in “Die Rinder der österreichischen Alpenländer” (1879 – 1884).

The Tiroler Grauvieh is regarded as a rare and endangered species of livestock today, and is therefore part of the Austrian gene protection program. In 2007, this program included 4508 head of Tiroler Grauvieh from 1043 farms. North Tyrol, the origin of the Tiroler Grauvieh, is characterized by alpine pastures which extend over nearly half of the Tyrolean area. The mountainous alpine area is characterized by particularly steep slopes and short vegetation periods. The local plant communities may vary extremely as they are strongly influenced by the soil and the climatic conditions prevailing on the respective altitudes. In addition to North Tyrol, populations of the breed  can be found throughout Austria, South Tyrol (Italy), Switzerland, and Bavaria (Germany). The native region for the Tiroler Grauvieh cattle is usually covered with snow for about 70 days in the lower areas, and for about 190 days in high-alpine regions. The cattle are kept on pastures or alpine pastures for about half a year. During winter, the animals are kept in loose housing stables, and fed mainly with on-farm hay. Tiroler Grauvieh cattle are typically held on small mountain farms Over half of the farmers operate according to the principles of organic farming.

Grauvieh genetics currently available in Canada through us:

Grauviehstier Devis

Photo: Tiroler Grauviehzuchtverband

Devis AT 225.651.876

Height: 127cm
Weight: 611 kg/ 1346 lbs. (at 2 years old)
4,355 kg/ 9600 lbs. annual milk yield
4.13% fat
3.38% protein
Excellent dairy qualities

Grauviehstier Artiz

Photo: Tiroler Grauviehzuchtverband

Artiz AT 204.042.845

Height: 131cm
Weight: 578 kg/ 1274 lbs. (at 1.5 years old)
4,207 kg/ 9274 lbs. annual milk yield
4.25% fat
3.41% protein
Excellent dairy qualities

Related Links:

Tiroler Grauviehzuchtverband – the official breed association in Austria

Arche Austria – Society for the preservation of rare Livestock breeds (Austria)