Northern Finncattle

3MC – Traditional transboundary cattle breeds in Nordic

Contact: mervi.honkatukia@nordgen.org

 

Project active: 1 November 2019 – 30 September 2022

Culture and animal genetic resources have a profound connection, as culture developed with the same conditions around humans and local animal breeds. Culture has a very fundamental role in biodiversity as well as biodiversity plays a significant role in maintaining culture. During thousands of years, the local cattle stocks were adapting to harsh arctic conditions providing survival for the humans.

Before the 20th century’s revolution in agriculture, the most common cattle breeds in the outermost northern regions were representatives from Northern Finncattle, Fjällko and Sidet Troendefe and Nordlandfe breeds, in Finland, Sweden and Norway, respectively. Borders were not limiting the migration of humans nor animals in the North. Thus, the mountain cattle breeds are sharing a common Scandinavian ancestry from the time before formation of the national breeds. Breeds were established relatively late from the local landraces. During the 20th century, the local breeds regressed rapidly and were at risk of extinction due to international breeding material with better production capacity. Today, only Swedish fjällko is close to stable, Northern Finncattle is classified as endangered and Norwegian STN as a vulnerable breed. Many of the qualities developed because of adapting to the demands of the natural and cultural environment still live in today’s mountain cattle. Even though the mountain breeds resemble each other both in appearance and genetically, a common history of these transboundary sister breeds has not been thoroughly studied. Archaeological and historical knowledge are keys to understanding the genetics, cultural heritage and uniqueness of the current mountain breeds.

Increase awareness of mountain cattle and their cultural heritage and genetic resources

The project aims to increase public awareness of mountain cattle and their unique culture. These are essential in the conservation of native animal breeds, but also in conservation of cultural history related to keeping mountain cattle. Preserving animal genetic resources is thus a project to conserve culture for coming generations. There is a need to build better education on this subject for both experts and the public.

In this project, a network of preservers will be established. It will commit to preserving and sharing the knowledge and skills needed for mountain cattle recovery. Secondly, the experience and knowledge of animal husbandry will be gathered for anyone interested in this cognizance. Thirdly, an illustrative game application will help to teach about the history and cultural heritage of the mountain cattle and demonstrate the conservation of genetic resources. The app is based on historical data, cultural heritage and genetic resources collected in the project.

The project is funded with a grant from Interreg Nord and Länsstyrelsen Norrbotten 2019-2022 and has 5 Nordic partners. NordGen is the coordinator for the project as well as responsible for investigating pedigree and population kinship, dissemination of results and implementation of applications. NordGen will also be responsible for establishing the network of preservers.