Zwerg Zebu – The breed


As well known, to let the cattle graze after the horses is the best addition to an optimal pasture care next to the manure removal. But I wanted something special…

I heard from an lessee about the “Zwerg-Zebus”, which are very frugal and are able to live outside throughout the whole year.

The Zwerg-Zebus belong to so called Back-cows, which strongly differ in their look from the other cows held in Europe. These animals primarily derive from Sri Lanka – former Ceylon – in the southern Caucasus. The word Zebu derives from the Tibetan word “zeu” or rather “zeba”, which means as much as “hump”. 

Zebus, which originally only appeared in Asia and where domesticated there, finally arrived in America, Africa, Australia and certainly in marginal numbers in Europe. In the End of the 70ies, smaller herds were held on large scale in Baden-Württemberg also outside of Zoos, particularly in Hohenlohe. Upon request of one of these pioneers of agricultural Zwerg-Zebu husbandry, the first stud book for Zwerg-Zebus was established in Baden-Württemberg in 1992.   

The female of our Zwerg Zebu breeding derives from exactly this “pioneer”.

In 2009, I took off to pick two out of 250 Zebu cows at the Birkenhof in Dörzbach. I came back with 4 heifers, 2 of them were gestating… So did “Yvi”, “Kiki”, “Honey” and “Happy” get on the horse trailer (there is a lot of time during a 9 hour drive to think about names). In 2010 “Mr. Happy” and “Mr. Sunshine” were born and the breeding bull “Ignaz von der Lück” joined us, who brought us “Honey’s Sunshine” in 2011 as well as “Cookie and Cream” and “Ihlobo” in 2012 before he retired. 

The most noticeable outer character, which distinguished the Zebus from other cattle races is the hump. The hump consists of muscle flesh and is a delicacy. Next to the hump, which is more pronounced among the male animals, a strong jowl, a removed and strongly sloped pelvis, fine extremities and a narrow forehead that gives the head a longish shape belong to the outer character of these animals. Zwerg-Zebus are well known for their calving ease without human help and are characterized by their good mother cow nature. 

Because the Zebus were rarely farmed in Asia, it is difficult to assign these animals to a particular origin or region. 

Therefore, we meet a lot of manifold colors, shapes and horn positions as well as different withers heights and weights of the full-grown animals. Zwerg-Zebus are increasingly established in the landscape care, for example on strongly dumose areas, in scarps and even wetlands.

Furthermore, the Zwerg-Zebus generally cultivate the pastures, because the damage of the sod is limited by a minimum. They even hark back to overaged grass,  thistles and even blackthorns when there is nothing else to feed upon. 

The land requirement for a mother cow is approximately 0,3 – 0,5 ha.