The Swedish Mountain cow, Fjällko, is a beautiful old cow breed and the most popular and used cow of the four native breeds that Sweden has. The cow is slightly smaller in size than most other breeds and has no horns. The fur color varies, but is mostly white with red, brown or black spots.
When the Mountain cow came to the north of Sweden, is hard to say. But already in the year 800 took Norwegian Vikings cows from Norway back to Iceland. The Mountain cow probably originates from the same herd of cows. One even suspects that the roots of these northern cows lie as far back as 2000 years ago.
The Mountain cow is well adapted to the northern climate and she is both strong and durable. Unlike most other cow breeds she could survive on poor soil. She found her food in the woods around the farm and in winter she ate the hay that the farmer gathered from meadows and marshes.
Because the food was limited and the cow small of size, she didn’t milk much. But it was easy and cheap to keep her, mainly because she was good at finding her own food. In addition, when it was milking time, she came home by herself. A farmer didn’t feel like to fetch his cattle from the forest!?Fortunately, the Mountain cow has a lively and loving temperament and she likes being around people, so usually she came home on her own.
In 1893 the Studbook decided that the Mountain cow should be free of horns and had to have a predominantly white coat with small black, red or brown spots, to be included in the pedigree. But this was a bad decision. Most of the native breeds in that time did not meet these requirements and were excluded. Only a small number of animals fit into the straitjacket imposed by people. As if that was not enough, appeared in the 30s that the white coat had a hereditary link with the lack of testicles by bulls and ovaries in cows.
Since then, all breeding stock are checked for this defect. Also the new breeding aimed to get back more color in the Mountain cow so the breed contains healthy cows and bulls.
With support of the WWF was the Project Rädda Fjällko (Project save the Mountain cow) launched in the early 90’s to preserve the Mountain cow breed. Through the work of inseminators in the 60’s and 70’s had semen from old purebred bull been preserved. With the semen of these bulls and the small number of Mountain cows who were still alive, began the rebuilding of the breed.
As a result of Project Fjällkon Radda the association Svenks Fjällrasavel has been established in 1995, which is committed to the safeguarding and development of the Swedish Mountain cow in the future.