Angus cattle in Czechia
As early as 400 BC, the Celts would graze red cattle in what is now the Czech region. But only a few decades ago did Czechia start to breed beef cattle. Historically, red cattle was used for milk, beef and work. From the 17th century onwards, local farmers began crossing their cattle to other European dual-purpose breeds. Fleckvieh became and remained the dominant breed until the late 20th century. After the end of WWII, the newly established communist regime confiscated all privately owned land and turned most pastures into crop land. They pushed cattle into sheds, wrongly expecting better economic outcomes. When they realized their mistake, the authorities decided to set up beef cattle grazing in mountainous areas. They launched their plan with the import of over a thousand Hereford heifers from Canada in 1974. Yet, the absence of crucial know-how inevitably led
to a limited success.
The main boom of beef cattle finally came after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. Once again, Canada played a key role, with one man, Miloš Menhart, at the forefront. Born in communist Czechoslovakia, Miloš fled to Canada as a young vet. Over time, he went into the international trade with cattle genetics. In 1991, his company M.I.L.O.S. Inc. brought the first Angus heifers to Czechoslovakia on a cargo flight from Canada. Within the next five years, they delivered 1800 heads, half of them Angus. And in 1996, the company imported the first red Angus. In the meantime, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two countries, Czechia and Slovakia. Mr. Menhart successfully convinced Czech authorities of the benefits of beef cattle for Czech agriculture at a time it was undergoing dramatic changes. Importantly, Mr. Menhart’s contributions go well beyond the transfer of cattle and equipment. His most indispensable gift is the transfer of knowledge to the inexperienced breeders. Czech Angus breed has enjoyed increasing popularity, with 5000 pedigree calves from 150 individual herds registered just last year. Ten times as many are reared as commercial cattle. Angus competes with Charolais for No. 1 among local beef breeds. A successful local market has developed for the breeding bulls, while pedigree heifers have been sold mainly to emerging markets in southern and eastern Europe, and in central Asia. Many Angus farms run their own meat off farm sale.