Bovska Sheep got their name from the small town Bovec that
lies in upper Soflorina valley which is in the Northwest part of Slovenia near
the Italian border. In Trenta valley this breed is also called trentarka or
pure trentarka if it has the short ears sometimes seen with this breed.
The Bovska sheep breed originated in the white sheep which
were once distributed throughout the Alps. Bleiweis (1871) mentioned the
Trbiska sheep breed and reported that sheep with shorter ears produced more
milk. Pirc reported that Tolminska and Bovska sheep breeds originated from the
peat sheep while in the German literature it is stated that in some Alpine
valleys and swampy areas Stonesheep (Steinschafe) or Zaupelschafe were found
which could have been the ancestor of modern breeds in this area. Sheep are
usually bred in small flocks of ten to twenty animals, but sometimes 40 or
more. After the lambs are weaned the ewes are milked in the mountain pastures
with all milk being used for cheese production. Most of it is used at home but
recently it has been sold in the mountain pastures.
The Bovska sheep breed used to be reared in the wider area
of Tolmin but after 1950 the number of sheep decreased quickly. Mountain
pastures on which sheep and goats grazed have been abandoned. In some areas
cattle have replaced sheep and goats on the Alpine pastures. In the Tolmin area
about 20 mountain pastures for sheep existed. In the years between 1984 and
1994 only three mountain pastures for sheep remain with a total of
approximately 600 sheep. But the number of sheep as well as of sheep breeders
has been decreasing. Now sheep are kept only in the Trenta valley and in some
smaller valleys like Koritnica and Lepena in the upper Soflorina valley. It is
estimated that only 800 individuals of this breed still exist.
Ewes and rams do not have horns. An adult ewe weighs from 35
to 40 kg and a ram from 45 to 50 kg. Ewes lamb once a year and about 10% have
twins. Ewes with twins are not selected for further breeding. Wool is very
coarse, fibers are 44 microns thick. They shear between 1.2 and 1.5 kg wool a
year per sheep. Wool is not used even for home production any more. The Bovska
sheep breed is primarily white, but some animals are black or brown. The head
is small with a convex profile. The forehead is partly covered by wool. It is
typical for the sheep in Trenta valley to have small ears, sometimes resembling
stumps and it is difficult to mark them. These sheep are called
"trentarka". In Bovec and in the vicinity sheep are heavier and have
The Bovska sheep breed is extensively reared. During the
winter animals are fed small amounts of hay and branches of bushes so that they
lose weight from December to April. This low level of nutrition often results
in abortion of twinning pregnancies. In some ewes with twin pregnancy one of
embryos dies and is reabsorbed so that the ewe produces only one lamb.
Milk is the main product of the Bovska sheep breed. After
the weaning ewes are milked for 100 and 140 days. Ogrizek (1948) estimated the
production at 65 to 80 kg during lactation. In recent years the Selection
Service controls the milk yield in some flocks. The milk yield of the Bovska
sheep breed in controlled flocks is higher than on average since only better
flocks are controlled. Table 1 shows the milk yield results. In the mountain
pastures milking and cheese production are performed in a traditional way.
Cheese and curd are produced; sometimes sour milk, all for sale in the mountain
pastures to tourist and visitors.
Content: Oklahoma State University (www.ansi.okstate.edu).