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Sibera's cool cows: Milk as thick as sour cream

Meet the cow farmers who live and farm in extreme conditions: Siberia. They farm Yakutian cows. One of the world's most resilient cows.

TAGS: Zoom In Russia Cold farm farmer Extreme Rated-G Rated-U Endangered cow Siberia Yakutsk Milk

Yakutian cattle are cattle landrace bred north of the polar circle in the Republic of Sakha. They are noted for their extreme hardiness and tolerance towards freezing temperatures.

Yakutian cattle are of relatively small size. Cows stand between 110 to 112 cm high at the withers and reach a live weight of 350 to 400 kg; bulls reach a height of 115 to 127 cm and weigh 500 to 600 kg. They have short, strong legs and a deep and narrow chest. The dewlap is well-developed. 

Most animals have a white dorsal stripe along the back, and in dark animals the hair between the horns is often reddish-brown.

Their large abdomen and long digestive tract allow them to make efficient use both of grass and browse. They grow subcutaneous fat during the short pasture season and survive under poor feed conditions in winter.

A number of further traits, such as a thick winter coat, a small, fur-covered udder or scrotum, good thermoregulation, and low metabolic rates at low temperatures, lead to the Yakutian cattle’s tolerance towards ice cold temperatures. A great example of this is the case of several cows which survived on their own in the taiga forest for three months in late 2011 in deep snows and temperatures reaching as low as –40 °C.