Ark of taste
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In the Basque Country, this breed is the symbol of the ancient Aurochs bull, which lived among us many years ago. The Betizu, a small, red bull typical of this Country, is considered semi-wild because while they have owners, at the same time they maintain some aspects of wilderness living, moving freely in the open mountain pastures, feeding by themselves and breeding without human intervention. The word Betizu comes from the Basque language and it stands for: behi=cow and izua=evasive, due to the wild nature of these animals that hide in forest areas. Etymologically, therefore, it means a wild, evasive cow. They are physically rustic with little muscular development. They are well proportioned with long lines and an upright profile. Males are at the most 130 cm tall at the withers and females are up to 120 cm. The average weight for the former is between 400 and 500 kg and 350 kg for the latter. The front of its body is more developed than the back part. The coat is a wheat or reddish brown color, varying from light to intense, with less color in some parts such as the low abdomen, perineum area, armpits, extremities, snout, and eye region. Mucous membranes and hooves are absent pigmentation. Horns are developed young, forming a half moon, wider for males than for females; when older they turn into a lyre and slightly spiral shaped ornament. They are a nacreous white color, deeper at the base and yellowish at the sharp point. Their breeding cycle is associated to the seasons and they give birth once every two years. The fact that they are particularly rustic, together with their traditional and historic value in the Basque mountains, makes the “Betizu” ideal and of special interest for use in marginal areas and in the mountains. Suckling calves (canales lechales), ready for slaughter at about 30 or 40 kg are obtained from 3 or 5 month old calves fed only from mother’s milk, without any other supplement. Furthermore, the mother feeds on natural forage only and neither transgenic components nor additives are allowed.This breed appears in the Basque Country Official Announcement Publication, BOPV, on the 29th of March 1999, Order March 16th 1999, of the Agriculture and Fishing Counselor, approving and specific ruling for the Betizu bovine race. It is also included in the Basque Native Animal Races Official Catalogue, DECREE 373/2001, December 26th, about Basque native animal races and entities which work for their promotion, BOPV 2002 January 21st. It is included in the Spanish Cattle Official Catalogue, APA/661/2006, State Official Announcement Publication, BOE, dated on March 10th 2006 and it also appears in the United Nations FAO Catalogue (DAD-IS).

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