Jeju Black Cattle

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Jeju Black Cattle

The Jeju Native Black cattle are a type of traditional Korean native cattle with a characteristic black fur that covers the entire body. It is documented as being raised in South Korea for thousands of years and confirmed as a unique Korean breed through DNA analysis. Jeju cattle are smaller than other breeds and their disposition is very calm. They are ideal for farming, as they will eat rough grasses and brush, and are adaptive to environmental conditions. In addition, they possess the highest level of immunity against harmful insects and diseases among all Korean cattle. The content of monounsaturated fat is higher than in other Korean cattle, providing a clean meat flavor and juiciness. Various steak dishes like Korean style bulgogi can be made from Jeju Native Black Cattle.

The breed’s qualities and genetic uniqueness helped it to be named as a protected, state-designated national monument in 2013. Throughout the centuries, records provide evidence that the breed was featured in ancestral rites and special events. For example, the Jeju Bush Fire Festival stems from the old traditional cattle ranching culture in which fire was set to rid fields of harmful insects and old grass; this festival is enormously popular as a tourist attraction. This breed’s by products are also consumed as they are said to increase stamina. While Jeju cattle have mainly been raised for use within South Korea, they have also been exported for centuries. Records show that dried meat, horns and leather were traded with Japan in the 600s during the Goryeo Dynasty.

In 1971, Jeju cattle made up 29% of all the cattle raised in the Jeju region, and today, this breed is raised only in the Jeju area. Approximately 1,500 cattle are being raised in 97 farms in the province. The South Korean Rural Development Administration is preserving 45 pure Jeju native black cattle for the purpose of preserving the breed’s genetics and expanding the species. In addition, the stockbreeder’s association of Jeju Province is also raising 157 pure Jeju black cattle for similar reasons. Jeju Native Black cattle meat can be found in shops in the area, and in restaurants in Jeju City and Seogwipo City.

During the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), Korean cattle farming decreased. Over 1.5 million cattle were exported to Russia, Japan and China as the Japanese government exploited the Korean breeds. In 1938, the breed standard for Korean cattle stated that ‘the fur color of Korean cattle is red,’ leading to fewer farmers raising other varieties of cattle. This breed has also been threatened by the introduction of other species from overseas starting in 1957. Six to eight larger, foreign breeds suited to meat production were brought to Korea during the 1960s and 1970s, leading to the near-extinction of Jeju black cattle.

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StateSouth Korea


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Breeds and animal husbandry

Nominated by:Ko Moon Seok