Cakiel Podhalanski Sheep

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The cakiel podhalanski sheep is a mountain variety, raised for centuries in the Podhale regions in south Poland, at the foot of the Tatra chain in the Carpathian mountains; in Podkarpacie, the depressed area at the base of the Carpathians that stretches from Austria to Romania; and in the Beskidy mountains, the mountainous Carpathian chain stretching from the Czech Republic to the Ukraine.
In the Podhale and western Carpathian areas, the white variety has traditionally been raised. To the east and a goodly part of eastern Malapolska, the black variety is more prevalent.
Raising this breed finds its origins in the migratory movements of the pastoral Wallachian tribes, who moved along the Carpathian chain from the 14th to the 16th centuries.
This breed has always followed human settlements in the Carpathians, becoming an integral part of the economy and culture of the local population. The breed is well adapted to local weather conditions, very resistant to difficult environments (these areas are known for their bad weather, with very low temperatures and abundant rainfalls).
The cakiel podhalanski sheep are famous for their excellent resistance to diseases, longevity (they can live up to 15 years old) and a strong herd instinct.

It is a very useful sheep: its wool (even if not of a prized quality) and skins are used to make costumes, clothing and other traditional, decorative items. Its woolly coat is also excellent for the animals themselves as protection against the rain and other weather conditions.
Its milk is used to make different kinds of cheeses: Bundz, Redykołka, Żentyca (a drink based on whey produced during cheese-making), Oscypek (a Slow Food Presidium cheese).

The sheep out to pasture in the mountains carry out an important economic function and protect the mountain ecosystem. However, lately, the number of this breed’s head has been notably reduced, it has been cross-bred with different breeds and has also seen a reduction in areas designated for traditional pasturing.

In the past few years, programmes aimed at protecting this breed’s genetic resources have been instituted, contributing to an increase in their numbers. Podhalanski lamb has also obtained the geographically protected indication (IGP) in Europe.

Today, raising this breed is an inseparable part of the local mountain landscape and the regional culture to oversee and protect.

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