Asturian cows, the most beautiful in Spain

The cows Asturian Frisians (now called holsting) are the prettiest: the ones with the best udders, the best legs, the best structure and capacity, and the best dairy structure. Thus, at least, the Confederation of Spanish Frisian Associations (Conafe) recognizes it in the list that it has prepared with the 100 best farms by final rating in 2021. A list in which one hundred farms appear, of which twenty-seven are Asturian, six of them among the first fifteen. The first place is occupied, quite comfortably, by the Badiola ranch, from the town of Condres (Gozón), which has an average score of 87.61 for the 343 qualified cows.

The Asturiana de Control Lechero (Ascol) explains that this list qualifies farms that have at least 17 breeders and that it is about measuring the cows by parts. These ratings go up to a score of 100 and the average in Spain is around 77 or 78. The rating divides these animals into several types, giving an "R" to the regular ones, which are those between 69 and 74; an "I" for insufficient to those with a score below 69; a “B” for good to those between 75 and 79; a “BB of more than good to those that go from 80 to 84; a “MB” of very good to those that are between 85 and 89; and, finally, an "E" for excellent to those that are above 90 points.

From Ascol, entity that presides over Jose Emilio Garcia Suarez, explain that this good qualification of Asturian farms “is not by chance”: “Asturias It has always had a tradition of having good cows, they are like part of the family, there is a romantic vision”, they say. The results are there, having 27 farms among the 100 best for their morphology in Spain for the 25 that Galicia has, despite the fact that there are many more farms in the neighboring region. "We have an enviable and very competitive livestock herd," they insist from Ascol. Something that they claim "in a difficult moment": "It is an important moral support and implies the love, passion and dedication to the cows that Asturian farmers have", they add.

This requires work, dedication and also investment. “There are generations and generations of using the best genetics; it's expensive, it's costly and it's slow”, they say from Asturiana de Control Lechero, a cooperative that has an insemination center. "We have three bulls that are number 1, the selection in Asturias is done looking for well-formed animals, 60% of the calves registered in Asturias are sons of Ascol stallions." All this makes the cooperative boast that "in Asturias semen is being exported to 22 countries".

This bet is also a risk, since this genetics does not guarantee results and, furthermore, not everything is genetics. The subsequent work also has to be up to the task: “You have to comply with feeding, handling and all the other things”, point out from the cooperative. The results, in fact, come after “years of working and doing things well”. In short, for Ascol, the Asturias cows are "one of the things we can be proud of".

In addition to Badiola, in first place, the following appear on the Conafe list holdings: Casa Flora (4th.), Toño Patallo (8th.), Casa Viña (10th.), Cantina Livestock (12th.), Manolero Livestock (13th.), El Pedregal (24th.), Casa Venturo Livestock (27th.) , Samasilva (31º.), Casa Coto (32º.), Ventura Ranch (36º.), La Pienda (41º.), Llarriba (48º.), Eloy Ranch (53º.), Luis House (55º.), Lucho ( 56th), Nogal Livestock (57th.), Casimira Livestock (61st.), Fele Livestock (63rd.), Bernabé Livestock (72nd.), Peto House (73rd.), Los Abedules (76th.), Ferreiro House (85th. ), La Soledad (87th.), Baldomero Livestock (88th.), Celedonio House (90th.) and Los Laureles Livestock (91st.).

Manolero seeks "harmony and functionality"

Manuel Fernández Mora, from the Manolero farm.

For Manuel Fernandez, owner of the Manolero ranch, in Mirallo de Arriba (Tineo), being ranked thirteenth in Spain out of around 11,500 ranches is "a pride": "It is a reward for the work done," he adds. What they are looking for, explains Manuel Fernández, is "to have a harmonic, correct, functional cow that does not cause problems". In the end, Manuel Fernández is clear that "what counts here is the milk", so it is important that the animals have "good udders" because that means they will be "good producers". But there are more things, like “legs”. He acknowledges that he did not expect to be "so high up", although he did trust in the work he has been doing. For him, "Badiola is the reference, another story, he plated for him, he has incredible merit", he says about the leader of the classification and absolute reference in this morphological classification. In his case, he explains that it is a family farm, which belonged to his parents and grandparents, with which in 1998 he had to make a decision: “Either I pulled forward or I dedicated myself to something else”. He did the first and opted "for quality". For that, he explains that they go to "contests, steer championships" and that all of this "helps improve the cattle" because it makes it easier to compare what is yours with "what others have." "That helps to evolve," says this rancher from the Southwest of Asturias.

Toño Patallo, a lover of genetics

Toño Patallo, on his farm in Cudillero.

Tono Patallo He is 62 years old and has been dedicated to the livestock farm he has in the town of El Pito (Cudillero) for 38 years, where he has 50 animals. The eighth appears on the Conafe list, with an average score for its cows of 85.34 points. In total, 29 specimens have been valued from those he has in his livestock. Patallo, the third on the list among the Asturian farms, says that what he likes the most is "genetics". Another thing is this qualification, in which, he says, "the judges pay more attention to the fact that the cow is beautiful." Even so, he acknowledges being satisfied to see himself there "among all those monsters", as is the case of the admired Ganadería Badiola. His case is special, since for family reasons he had to take charge of the El Pito farm, where he works with his daughter. Throughout his life he has done "everything" and especially things related to sports, becoming an amateur cyclist at the time of Pedro Delgado or Julián Gorospe. He also ran marathons and steeplechase. "I always liked sports," he says. But he had to go back to the roots: "Personal circumstances made me stay," he adds. For the subject of genetics, to which he devotes the most efforts, he admits having "intuition". In spite of everything, he assures that "risks" are taken and that the results arrive "in the long term". But, above all, to get ahead what he has to do is "work hard".

Tino Rodríguez: “It is a reflection of the work”

Tino Rodríguez, on his farm in Casa Viña.

Tino Rodriguez is in charge of the Casa Viña ranch, located in Albandi (Carreño), which is the tenth in Spain for the morphology of its cows and the fourth in Asturias. Being placed in those positions above is for Rodríguez "a pride" and a reflection of "a daily struggle": "You have to treat them well, have a good place to rest, good nutrition and genetics." In his case, he assures that it is "a family farm", which means that for him it is more than just a job: "Here there were cows from my grandfather, from my father, it is a family farm that has evolved with the times, adapting technologically, expanding a little, gaining in comfort and growing with the times”. His herd is between 110 and 115 cows and a total of 200 animals. Rodríguez attaches great importance to the genetics of the cows: “The job is to continue looking for good cows genetically, with good legs, good udders, that give a lot of milk; genetics is the key.”

In addition to the satisfaction of being so well classified in this ranking, Rodríguez is proud of the good work being done in Asturias: "The average score is very good, there is a very good level of cows." He, for his part, has been in these high positions for many years, having cows with an excellent score and always among the first classified in a ranking that leaves the Principality very well.

Julián Rodríguez: "This is not a whim"

Julián Rodríguez, with one of his cows.

The Casa Flora Livestock Farm, located in Otur (Luarca), is the second in Asturias on the Conafe list that judges the morphology of the cows, ranking fourth in Spain. its owner, Julian Rodriguez, explains that it is a job that has been carried out for a long time and that "it is not a whim", but also a way of working to have the best specimens to compete in the best conditions. "This is a reward for work, we have been at the top for three years since this list was published." Rodríguez says that in these classifications something similar happens to sports brands: “The difference in these positions is a few tenths but they are very difficult to achieve tenths, when you go up from 85 it is difficult to keep going up, you have to always be close to perfection, it is like Formula 1. The owner of Casa Flora assures that reaching these positions “is not something we seek, it is not the desire to be the first, but rather the basis of profitability is having the morphologically better cow; this is not a whim, but it means more production”, he adds.

Julian Rodríguez takes the opportunity to launch a warning and a claim: “Either the price of milk goes up or there will be no more cows in Asturias, Flora is losing money, production costs exceed the price of milk; either it goes up or there will be more and more closures”.

Badiola makes a tradition of excellence in the upbringing and care of its animals

José Ramón and Paulino Badiola, with one of the specimens from their farm.

The Badiola cattle ranch is admired and appreciated by all those who are dedicated to the world of dairy cows. They have been at the forefront of the Conafe ranking in the three editions in which it has been published, they have been chosen 25 times as the best breeders in Spain in the last four decades, their cows have produced the best in the country for their morphology in 13 occasions and they are the only operation from Spanish-speaking countries that appears in the ranking of the hundred most influential in the world. The Badiola cows are, in short, a registered trademark. In front of her are Paulino Badiola and his father, José Ramón, in what they still consider “a family farm”. Paulino explains that this Conafe list is more than just "a beauty contest", since having a high score means having "functionality": "It is a balance between bodywork and engine", extrapolating cows to cars. And, he adds, "cows that are morphologically excellent have a high average milk production."

The reflection of the work of a family that has "passion for good cows"

From the left, Bertino Velasco, Gema López and Verónica, Patricia and Vicente Velasco López.

Vincent Velasco acts as a spokesperson for the Cantina ranch, where his mother, Gema López, works every day, which is the soul of a family farm that has been placed among the best rated in Spain and among the five best in Asturias due to the morphology of its cows . “This is not achieved in two or three years, it is the work of twenty or thirty years looking for the best”, explains Vicente Velasco. The work carried out by this cattle ranch in Folguerúa (Tineo) is carried out out of “passion” rather than out of necessity: “It is the love we have for the cows, in the end this is what we like, it is almost a passion to find the ideal cow. ”, continues Velasco, aware that it is impossible to reach one hundred for an animal but that he does not give up on continuing to search for it. The weight of Asturias in this classification is for the breeder, the result of "the love that has always existed in the region for good cows".


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