Puneet Varma (Editor)

Taurus cattle

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Higher classification


Taurus cattle httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsee

Heck cattle, Sayaguesa, Pajuna cattle, Ankole‑Watusi, Camargue cattle

Taurus cattle are an advanced form of Heck cattle, an attempt of breeding back the aurochs, the wild ancestor of domestic cattle. They are the result of crossbreeding traditional Heck cattle with aurochs-like cattle mostly from Southern Europe to achieve a greater resemblance to the aurochs and larger body size. Taurus cattle herds are located in Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands and Latvia and are used in conservation of natural landscapes and biodiversity. Taurus cattle is a breed that is still being crossbred and selected.



In 1996 the conservation group Arbeitgemeinschaft Biologischer Umweltschutz in Germany started to crossbreed Heck cattle with primitive cattle from Southern Europe such as Chianina, Sayaguesa Cattle and the Spanish fighting bull in the Lippeaue reserve near the town of Soest. The purpose was and is an increased resemblance to the extinct aurochs, because they considered Heck cattle not satisfying. For example, they write in one of their publications: ″The ′recreations′ by the Heck brothers are too small, too short-legged, not elegant and their horns are not satisfying″. Therefore the goal is to breed cattle that are considerably larger, more long-legged and long-snouted and have horns curving forwards additionally to the wild type colour scheme that was already present in the population. By 2003 the breeding process had advanced enough to consider the animals a breed in their own right; as breed name, Taurus cattle was chosen. Also in 2003, a breeding herd each was started in Hungary and Denmark, in 2004 one was begun in Latvia.


In Germany, Taurus cattle herds are crossed with Chianina and Sayaguesa, two very tall breeds, and initially also the Spanish fighting bull (Toro de Lidia). The crossbred animals in the Lippeaue reserve, the most important breeding location, are composed of 47% Sayaguesa, 29% Heck cattle, 20% Chianina and 4% Lidia on average. Some individuals are of the fifth cross generation already.

Taurus cattle are listed in the herdbook X of the German Heck cattle association VFA. There is an increasing interest of Heck cattle breeders in using Taurus cattle because of their larger resemblance to the aurochs, so that there is a continuum between Taurus cattle and un-crossed Heck cattle.


Hortobágy National Park in Hungary has the largest herd of Taurus cattle so far, counting 500–600 individuals of which around 200 are mature cows. Additionally to crossbred cattle that were imported from Germany, Ankole-Watusi, Hungarian Grey cattle crosses and one half-Holstein Friesian cow are used. There are two sub-herds, a main herd at Pentezug and another one at Karácsonyfok. Studies in the national park showed that cattle are less adapted to dry, cold grassland than Przewalski horses, and until a few years ago the cattle were supplementary fed. The winter of 2011, however, was the first winter in which additional food was not necessary.


Taurus breeding was initiated in Lille Vildmose Nature Reserve under the name Projekt Urokse ('Project Aurochs'). The founding herd consisted of one Chianina × Heck bull, four Heck cows and one Sayaguesa × Heck cow, and in 2009 three Sayaguesa bulls were added. As of 2010, the herd had grown to a size of 56 individuals.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands a special project was set up at the end of 2016 called 'Oerrund Hard'. Oerrund Hard is a wordplay of the song 'Oerend hard' by a famous band in the Netherlands called 'Normaal', and where Oerrund is Dutch for Aurochs. The project uses Taurus cattle from Germany mainly consisting of crossbreds between Heck cattle and Chianina cattle, selected Heck cattle, and Watusi cattle. The Watusi have been donated by Dierenpark Amersfoort Zoo. There are now three small herds, and a fourth is in the making.


In Latvia, Taurus cattle are being bred by WWF Latvia. In February 2004, besides two German animals 21 head of Dutch Heck cattle were brought to Pape Nature Reserve, in October another 18 head of Dutch Heck cattle followed.


Taurus cattle Wikipedia

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