Breed of the Month Archive

Polish Red

Herd-Book creation :1895
Nb. Breeding females (2007): about 1450
Trend :upward
Location : Poland, mainly in the south
Local name : Polska Czerwona
English name : Polish Red


The Polish Red breed is descended from the prehistoric line of short-horned cattle (Bos taurus brachyceros). The origins of Polish Red cattle breeding date back to the second half of the 19th century, when herds of this breed were established in Polish lands, especially in the south. Source data suggest that the first herds of Polish Red cattle were already created around 1850. A turning point for the breed was the initiative of 14 breeders from southern Poland, who established the Society of Polish Red Cattle Breeders in 1894. The Association of Red Cattle Breeders was created in 1895 at the Kraków Agricultural Society. This year marked the beginning of regular breeding work for this cattle. In the interwar period, the Polish Red breed accounted for 25% of the national cattle population. In the 1960s, there were still about 2 million cattle of this breed, which accounted for 18% of the population. This was followed by a rapid decrease in the population of Polish Red cattle, due to the elimination by more productive breeds and the use of improvement crossing with imported red cattle (mainly Angler).
To protect the breed from extinction, a programme for the genetic resources conservation of Polish Red cattle was started in 1999. The programme is currently coordinated by the National Research Institute of Animal Production.

Breed Description

Polish Red cattle have uniform colour ranging from red to dark red, with dark claws and nostrils and dark-ended bright horns. The breed is characterized by good resistance and health, longevity, very good fertility, easy calvings, high viability of calves, which are easy to rear, and high biological value of milk. Other important traits are excellent adaptation to the harsh environment, the ability to reduce performance so as to survive seasonal food shortages, and fairly quick restoration of lost body condition. The breed is also undemanding in terms of feed quality. As regards conformation, Polish Red cattle have strong legs and hard claws. Thanks to these traits, the breed is well adapted to living and production conditions in the submontane and mountain areas. In addition, their milk has important quality traits such as high protein, fat and solids content, high biological value and suitability for cheese-making. In 2006, the average yield of the cows included in the genetic resources conservation programme was 4028 kg of milk containing 4.28% of fat and 3.34% of protein.

Previous/Future Conservation

The current population of Polish Red cattle stands at 1450 animals in 180 herds. By 2013, the number of cows is projected to reach 4500. The current subsidy per cow involved in the programme is 300 EUR, and is projected to increase by 10% in 2008.


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