Along the Menorcan paths, it is easy to see cattle grazing. There are cows in some sections of the Camí de Cavalls, although they are especially present in the inland. There are black-and-white, blonde and even red cows. Some of them are of the Menorcan race. It is the native one of the island and embodies many values of the Menorcan countryside and the Biosphere Reserve.
Menorca has many faces, many looks. The photographs of its paradisiacal coves of white sand and turquoise waters have been around the world. The steep red cliffs of the north, the inhospitable landscapes of the dry Menorca, the almost lunar environment of Favàritx or the humid ecosystems of the Albufera des Grau are also quite recognized. On the other hand, the interior of the island offers a great wealth of landscapes and corners that have nothing to envy to other faces of the island, but they are often not so recognized.
The interior of the island is basically shaped by the Menorcan countryside. The eminently rural essence of the island has its dominion in the undulating landforms of the inland. A mosaic landscape that has been drawn from generation to generation of peasants; the fields planted with pastures; the ancient paths where today we can walk or bike with the Menorca 360º programs… and the cattle.
The presence of cows is notable throughout Menorca and especially in the inland. Anyone who moves along the paths of the island will be able to see them. There are black-and-white, blonde, light brown or red ones.
Traditional livestock, modern values
The truth is that traditional livestock, both cows and sheep, is a capital element in the preservation of the island’s ancient culture. The care of the cattle contributes to root the Menorcan people in their countryside and, consequently, helps this Menorcan countryside to be still alive.
It is synonymous with tradition, but it is also something linked to modernity. Furthermore the fact of raising cows in Menorca today is in line and gives effect to the values defended by Menorca Biosphere Reserve. Sustainability, conservation, biodiversity, ecological balance, local economy, zero kilometer product… these are concepts that revolve around the Menorcan cow.
The indigenous breed
Menorca has a cow breed considered indigenous to the island. It is the Menorcan red, an animal of red color, generally without horns from birth and fully adapted to the Mediterranean habitat. It was officially included in the catalog of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture as a native breed in extinction danger. Since then, the number of census specimens has not stopped growing.
One of the main attractions for farmers is that the Menorcan cow is as good at producing meat as it is at producing milk. Thus, whoever wants to consume it, can find it both in butchers and delis in the form of artisan cheese and even converted into ice cream. All these products have an official EU ‘guarantee mark’. A seal that, under the name of ‘Vermella Menorquina’ (Menorcan red) or the initials ‘VM’, identifies its local origin and guarantees the quality provided by this breed and its sustainable production.