Brown Atlas Cattle

Ark of taste
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As the name suggests, Brown Atlas Cattle are native to the Maghreb – Atlas Mountains regions. In Tunisia they are found on the Mogods and Khroumerie mountain chains in the northwest of the country (from Nefza to Sejnane). It is a multi-use breed of cattle (both milk and meat). The coat is often brownish-red. Its small size allows it to adapt to the conditions where it lives (mountains and lightly forested areas). Each head of cattle weighs between 250 and 350 kg. The small size also helps it survive in arid regions, where the dietary conditions are difficult. The horns are small and curve inwards, and the muzzle is narrow. Originally, this breed was used for several purpose (as a work animal, in addition to the production of meat and milk, whose manure was used by farmers in the field). This breed is able to live on very little and consumes plants that people in the area do not use. The ability to rapidly replenish its reserves in the spring, along with ease in breeding and excellent maternal qualities help to ensure the growth of the calf even in the toughest conditions. Milk production, however, is very weak and nets roughly 4 kg per day, though the best cows can produce up to 10 kg of milk per day. The lactation period can last between 6 and 300 days. The low level of milk production, however, is compensated by the excellent quality: the fat content may even exceed 5%. The meat is tender and highly sought out, mainly for the preparation of couscous, a traditional dish of the region The decline of this breed began following the mechanization of agricultural work and the introduction of more productive breeds of cattle, imposed under the guise of rural development (Agrarian Reform), which unfortunately resulted in failure due mainly to the reduction of ample foraging areas and the excessive needs of the breeds in question that must feed intensively. The current estimated number of heads of this breed is 500 that pasture in the wild scrub areas within the natural range of Cork Oak. The reintroduction and appreciation of this animal and its milk could bring about a significant boost to the local economy.

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