The Busa is an ancient cattle breed that has been in the Balkans for thousands of years. It is a hardy breed that remains largely free from parasites and disease, is easy to care for, and cows have a good yield of high-fat milk. The breed’s meat has also proven a delicacy in Serbia and other Balkan countries. Because it is hardy and requires minimal care, while offering a good yield of meat and milk, it is a popular breed with small-scale farmers and larger commercial farms.

leaves divider leaf

Quick Facts about Busa Cattle

Breed Name:Busa
Place of Origin:Former Yugoslavia
Uses:Meat and Milk
Bull (Male) Size:400kg
Cow (Female) Size:180-250kg
Color:Brown
Lifespan:20 years
Climate Tolerance:Very Hardy
Care Level:Low to Moderate
Production:1,400 kgs of milk per year

Busa Origins

It is claimed that the Busa breed has existed since Neolithic times, in the Balkan Peninsula. It is classified as a small breed and is still popular in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. It was originally used for meat and as a draught horse to pull carts and machinery.

Although close to extinction in the 1990s, the Serbian government introduced state subsidies in 2000, encouraging farmers to rear traditional, local breeds. The subsidies stopped in 2013, but there is still a market for the gamey meat, while a high milk-to-weight production has helped it retain some use.

Busa cattle
Busa cattle Dragalj polje leg. P.Cikovac (Image Credit: P.Cikovac, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Busa Characteristics

The Busa hails from the challenging terrain and rough conditions of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a hardy and strong animal: one that requires minimal care and direction, often allowed to graze on local grass. It can withstand extreme cold conditions and, in countries like Australia, it has been bred with local cattle to also withstand extreme heat.

It is also known to be a disease resistant breed. They rarely suffer internal or external parasites and is popular for its resistance to foot and mouth disease and tuberculosis. Although they are hardy, healthy animals, you should still ensure that they have regular worm treatment and vaccinations.

Busa cattle are small compared to other breeds. Housing should be secure and provide protection from extreme weather and predators. Provide fresh air, ventilation, and natural lighting to keep the cattle healthy.

The breed has a lifespan of 20 years and is a good breeder, with a fertility rate of approximately 85%. If breeding naturally, rather than using artificial insemination, a ratio of 1 mature bull to approximately 25 cows should be sustainable.

They are considered a very clean breed of cattle because, unlike others, they tend to defecate in one area.

Uses

  • Meat – Although originally bred for meat production, the Busa is considered a small breed, weighing around 200kg on average. However, naturally farmed Busa yields meat with a gamey taste, thanks to its consumption of local flora. It is considered something of a delicacy.
  • Milk – Despite being a small breed, the Busa has a high milk production to weight ratio, and you can expect approximately 1,400 kg of milk from a healthy cow, per 270 days. Cows will produce for up to 12, but as many as 20, years. The milk averages around 6% fat and is considered high in protein.
  • Draughting – The breed is strong and hardy. Traditionally, it would have subsidised its meat and milk production with draughting duties, although this is less common today.

Appearance & Varieties

Size

This is a small breed. While other breeds of cow can reach weights of 700kg, the Busa cow will typically grow to around 220 kg. Mature bulls can weigh 400kg.

Horns

This shorthorn species has horns that face upwards and curve outwards.

Color

Color can vary according to region and breeding, with common colors including gray, red, white, black, or brown. The most common markings are unicolor brown.

Varieties

There are many different strains of Busa found throughout the Balkans. Macedonian Busa are commonly a blue-gray color while those from the Metohija region are red.

Distribution

True Busa cattle are very rare, with possibly only several hundred examples alive today, all of which are found in the hills of Serbia. However, variants and crossed Busa can still be found in other Balkan countries. Numbers have dwindled since subsidies were halted.

Are Busa Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Small with a generous milk yield, easy to care for, hardy, and largely resistant to disease and parasites, the Busa breed could be considered an ideal breed for small-scale farming.

Considering this is cattle that is used for milk and meat, the most important aspect of care will be finding a nutritional diet that is best suited to multi-use cattle. Another area where the Busa is beneficial is in its ability to thrive when allowed to graze naturally.

Maintenance is easy and these are small cows, compared to other popular farming breeds, so a small-scale operation with limited space can keep multiple cows and implement an artificial insemination program.

Although the Busa is accustomed to a cold and wet environment, they are highly adaptable and hardy. If you can get hold of this rare breed, it is likely to be able to adjust to your climatic conditions.

leaves divider leaf

Final Thoughts

The Busa is a great all-rounder that has a very good milk yield for its size. It also produces good meat, albeit in smaller amounts than other cattle. It is hardy, withstands disease, and avoids parasite infestations, and it is even considered a clean breed because of its propensity to defecate in a single area, rather than wherever the mood takes it.


Featured Image Credit: Busa 1 (Image Credit: Fraxinus Croat, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)