In Sicily, selective breeding practiced by farmers over the centuries has resulted in hardy breeds that are well suited to free-range grazing and able to survive the most difficult and arid periods. These animals produce high quality milk and flavorsome meat, but as they are less productive than modern breeds they are at great risk of extinction today. Consuming the quality cheeses that are made from their milk, or their meat, supports the farmers that are their guardians today and is a great way to save them!

Modicana Cattle



Present for centuries in Sicily, the Modicana cattle breed has a red coat with shading ranging from wine-red to black (especially in the males). There is still no consensus on how this breed arrived on the island: many believe it arrived from the Mediterranean while others believe it came from the European continent with the Normans and Angevins. Either way, it has been raised in Sicily for a very long time, practically since the island was populated.

Its decline is linked to the introduction of mechanized architecture, its low productivity in both dairy (3,000 liters a year) and meat (less than 55%), and the fact that many farms no longer produce cheese from their own milk. In the 1970s there were still around 25,000 head of Modicana, but today only 2,000 animals remain, and only 650 of these are being raised in its region of origin, Modica, which also gives the breed its name.

Nonetheless, the Modicana is considered to be one of the best “triple-purpose” breeds, and in the past it was particularly valued for its work capabilities. It is extremely hardy and able to survive hot Mediterranean summers, feeding mainly on pastures, with a small amount of feed provided when grass is scarce. The cattle are grazed free-range all year, and shelter is provided only for milking. Like all wild cattle breeds, the cows only provide milk when they have calves at their side.


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