Foundation Conservation Carpathia and Cobor Biodiversity Farm are putting Transylvania on the country’s gastronomic map with a new ingredient, the beef of the Transylvanian Grey Cattle breed.
Transylvania becomes a landmark on the beef map with the introduction of the Transylvanian Grey Cattle on the market. The Cobor Biodiversity Farm has opened its doors for a tasting of Transylvanian Grey Cattle meat dishes and will be putting the product on the market from October 2022. There are no more than 500 cattle of this endangered breed in Romania including about 100 at Cobor.
Cobor Biodiversity Farm, located in rural Transylvania in a settlement first documented in 1206, is distinguished by its green, conservation enterprise model and its project to reintroduce the Transylvanian Grey Cattle. As well as being particularly beautiful and imposing, and a real tourist attraction for the area, this breed is a semi-wild species that lives outside 365 days a year. It has excellent meat, reflecting the unpolluted environmental conditions in which it lives, a healthy diet based on grass and alfalfa, and a natural, quiet way of growing without forced fattening.
“In recent years we have noticed a growing trend for people to eat healthier and locally sourced food,” says István Szabó, Conservation Enterprise Manager, Foundation Conservation Carpathia. “We are paying more attention to quality and the story behind a product. At the Cobor Biodiversity Farm we have it all: the story of a pioneering environmental project to protect the Făgăraș Mountains, the story of a 13th century village in demographic and economic decline, but revived by the farm project, creating 15 jobs. We have the story of the Transylvanian Grey Cattle, a historic breed, almost extinct in Romania, which for more than four years has been completing the landscape of the village and will soon delight the taste of beef lovers with a good Transylvanian product that is missing from the market. We have authorised a slaughtering location on the Cobor Biodiversity Farm, we comply with DSVSA rules, but we do not industrialise the process and slaughtering is done in an almost traditional slaughtering procedure. We will start marketing a small quantity of Transylvanian Grey Cattle meat in October 2022, directly from the farm (firstname.lastname@example.org), with delivery to restaurants, grocery stores or to others.”
The Transylvanian Grey Cattle contribute to the traditional management of high nature value (HNV) meadows around the village. The natural richness of this area is thus maintained through the use of sustainable land-use systems, with cattle grazing considered to be the most suitable for maintaining the biodiversity of the meadows.
There are about 150 people living in Cobor. At the Transylvanian Grey Cattle Open Day, the landscape was animated with 120 participants, visitors from Brașov, Sibiu and Bucharest, who enjoyed visiting the farm, the guest houses, the village, the horse livery facilities, the Carpathian Shepherd kennel and the view of the impressive Transylvanian Grey Cattle. The afternoon at the farm continued with a presentation on the qualities of meat, which all guests then had the opportunity to taste in a local potato goulash recipe.
Apple and onion pies, a cello concert by Radu Croitoru (Brașov Philharmonic) and children’s activities coordinated by a specialist in non-formal education completed the day’s programme. About 70% of the participants had never been to Cobor before, and events like this bring tourist, economic and cultural added value to the community visited.
History of the Transylvanian Grey Cattle
Between the 12th and 18th centuries these cows played an important role in the daily life of peasants. Very strong, the Transylvanian Grey Cattle cows were used for pulling carts and ploughs, for milk production (8-10 l/day) and for meat.
They are very hardy, can stay outdoors all winter and are immune to many diseases. This made the breed extremely valuable in the Middle Ages. Archival documents tell of over 1,000 cattle being transported by foot from Transylvania to markets in Vienna at a time when cattle had been driven out of central Europe by disease.
The Transylvanian Grey Cattle were threatened with extinction due to the mechanisation of agriculture and the spread of improved breeds, which have almost completely replaced it. The decline of the breed began in the inter-war period and is also linked to its slower growth rate, with maturity being reached after the age of five. In the 1950s, the Transylvanian Grey Cattle almost completely disappeared from Transylvania, with the breed surviving only in the National Parks of the Hungarian Pusta.
Cobor Biodiversity Farm
Cobor Biodiversity Farm is one of the most beautiful ecotourism projects in Romania, a blend of high natural value pastures, biodiversity conservation, organic agriculture, an ideal destination for tourism and business and a wonderful place for horses and Transylvanian Grey Cattle. Here, Foundation Conservation Carpathia laid the foundations of sustainable and organic agriculture over 500 ha of high natural value pastures.
This farm is a great example of how biodiversity conservation, traditional architecture and a profitable business can go hand in hand. This combination allows land use with very low impact and a focus on preserving and enhancing biodiversity. Several old dwellings have been restored and transformed into two cosy guesthouses, a seminar room and a traditional restaurant. Here, we offer our guests organic dishes, using local ingredients, produced by us or by neighbouring farmers.