Origin of Breed
Around the year 500 A.D., Alpine herdsmen had begun to develop a breed of red and white cattle from the native red Bavarian cattle. These early cattlemen selected animals that could withstand the harsh conditions of the Alpine mountains and still produce the meat and milk they needed. The name Pinzgauer derives from the district of Pinzgau in Austria near the Italian border. The name often appears in documents of the 1600’s and herdbooks dated in the 1700’s. These records show that this selective breeding process has been going on for some time. In the 1820’s, Pinzgauer cattle were exported to Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. In the early 1900’s, a large number were also exported to South Africa.
The large framed Pinzgauer cattle are easily characterized by their dark, chestnut base color with typical white marks on the back, the flanks and belly, front legs and calves. Their hair is smooth and the skin is flexible which helps prevent insect infestations. The Pinzgauer has been bred horned and polled, however most today are polled. They have sturdy hooves, the ability to travel over long distances and a russet coat, which protects them from UV radiation that means Pinzgauer cattle thrive even under the harshest environmental conditions.
Mature bulls weigh around 2,000 lbs. while mature cows weigh around 1000 to 1600 lbs.
Pinzgauers are known for their docility, feed efficiency, and high carcass quality. These animals are growthy from birth, allowing them to reach high weaning and yearling weights. Pinzgauer progeny possess a high gaining ability and feed conversion, but they maintain the easy calving ability that cattlemen prefer. Udders are well formed and hold up well during lactation. Their carcasses have a high dressing percentage whose meat is valued in many countries. Its marbling, succulence, flavor, and negligible grill losses as well as its fine-fibered quality are among the strong points of Pinzgauer beef. With an intensive fattening the average daily weight increase is about 3 lbs. with a slaughter yield of 56-58 percent. The good meat quality, with first rate marbling, fine fiber and light red color satisfy consumer requirements. Their docility makes them easy to work with on any operation, which reduces risk and additional potential input costs.
Development in America
The first four head of Pinzgauer were imported into Canada in September 1972. Austrian Fullbloods were first imported to the USA in 1976. Live animals, frozen embryos, and semen all have been imported to establish fullblood herds and to upgrade the Purebred Pinzgauers. Although small in total number of head in the U.S., Pinzgauers have been included in studies at the U.S.D.A. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay, Nebraska for many years. Studies have shown that Pinzgauers produce meat that is among the most tender of any beef breed and routinely exceeds other breeds in juiciness and flavor. Pinzgauer steers in the feedlot show above average gains and minimal health problems.
At the end of 1989, there were over 30,000 Fullblood and Purebred Pinzgauers in the United States, giving the cattlemen a world wide genetic base on which to build a Pinzgauer herd.
Registry and Improvement Programs
The American Pinzgauer Association is headquartered in Lake Ozark, MO. The Association provides registrations, transfers, performance data, sales and member services, as well as a junior program, shows and scholarships.