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Finncattle

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Other common names: Finnish Cattle; Suomenkarja; Suomalainen Karja; Finsk; Western Finncattle; Eastern Finncattle; Northern Finncattle

The basics:
Finncattle refers to three closely related cattle breeds of Finnish origin. Finncattle is most often kept for dairy production, and some animals are found in petting zoos and as pets.

The three Finncattle breeds are the Eastern Finncattle, the Northern Finncattle and the Western Finncattle. The Western breed has the highest milk production and is the most prevalent of the three with circa 5,000 head in Finland in 2006. Both the Eastern and Northern breeds are endangered with circa 300 heads each. The Finncattle breeds were originally established as separate breeds, in the turn of the 20th century, but with the emerging and growing popularity of more modern, imported dairy breeds, their numbers declined greatly, and the stud books were merged in the latter half of the 20th century, and the Western breed was selected as the official, desirable type for the new combined Finncattle breed. However, the three types remained distinct, and are considered separate breeds today, despite the shared studbook.

Appearance / health:
The Finncattle breeds are of small size and naturally polled, however they differ in appearance and production levels. The Western Finncattle is red, and the largest of the three breeds. The North Finnish cattle variety are white, the West Finnish are red, while the East Finnish are both white and red.

Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.

Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.

Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.

Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.

Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).

A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.

Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.

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