Breed of the Month Archive

Western Finncattle

Herd-Book creation :1906
Nb. Breeding females  :1300
Trend :declining
Location :all the country
English name :Western Finncattle


It is believed that keeping animals and cultivating fields spread to Finland more than 4000 years ago and cattle had an established role since some 2500-3700 ago. The original Finncattle breeds belong to northern Fennoscandian polled breeds, which form a distinct group.
There have been some importations over the centuries. The Western Finncattle have been dominating in the best agricultural areas in the south and west. The keepers of the Western Finncattle founded a breed society in 1906.

The register contained by 1927 about 22000 animals of which 12300 cows and 3300 bulls belonging to almost 4000 members registered in the herdbook. In 1930 some 60% of all milk-recorded cows in western Finland belonged to this breed. In the Finncattle, three breeds - Eastern, Western and Northern - were established. They were all amalgamated into one breed in 1947. Soon the Western type became dominant in the amalgamated breed. However, due to increasing numbers of Finnish Ayrshire and crossing of Finncattle with black and white Friesian cattle, Finncattle population declined, especially over the period 1950-70. Now there are only few thousand cows left of which three quarters belong to milk-recording. The population is now too small for running an efficient progeny testing for artificial insemination bulls.
About 70 % of inseminations in Finncattle population are done with young sire semen because the population is quite small. Using mostly young bulls keeps the genetic base as wide as possible.

In the 1970's and '80's a new interest was stimulated to landrace breeds by prof Kalle Maijala. Some Western Finncattle cows were collected to form an in situ herd in a state owned prison farm. After Finland joined EU, a special subsidy has been paid to rare cattle breeds. The Western Finncattle population has still gradually declined to some 1300 cows. The breed was originally mostly in the western part of the country and still so in the 1950's. At the moment the breed is scattered all over the country.

Breed Description

Western Finncattle is beige-brown, occasionally with some white markings or spots. The Western Finncattle are the largest of the three Finncattle breeds. Cows average 123 cm in height and weigh about 470 kg, bulls stand 140 cm at the withers and weigh 625-800 kg. At present, Finnish native breeds are usually polled. Originally the Western type was mostly horned, but there was selection for polledness. By 1930, only 2% of the bulls and 30% of the cows were with horns. The average yield of Finncattle cows in 2005 was 6625 kg of milk at 4.36% fat and 3.47% protein.