Around the year 500AD European herdsmen who ran their cattle on small, widely scattered rocky pastures had begun to develop a breed of red and white cattle from the native red Bavarian type. These early cattlemen selected animals that could withstand the harsh conditions of the region and still produce meat and milk.
The name Pinzgauer derives from the district of Pinzgau in Austria near the Italian border and from the Pinz Valley of Austria. The designation 'Pinzgauer' appears for the first time in documents of the 1600s and herd books from the region dated in the 1700s show that selective breeding had been going on for some time. (Austrians often refer to a strong hardworking man as a Pinzgauer)
This region of origin is irregular in topography, very rocky, and unpredictable in terms of weather. Temperatures may drop quite suddenly so these Pinzgauer ancestors had to have the hardy constitution to deal with such extremes.
Map of Austrian Dominions 1812
Pinzgauer in the Austria
These early tough origins have probably done much to enable Pinzgauers to survive, and in fact flourish in a variety of often difficult conditions around the world.By the end of the eighteenth century selective breeding resulted in fairly fixed breed characteristics and the animals began to catch the eye of cattlemen from other parts of greater Europe.
Soon Pinzgauers were seen grazing in the fields of Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany and Yugoslavia.
In the early nineteen hundreds South African farmers travelling in Europe were impressed by the Pinzgauer's adaptability and qualities and soon large numbers of breeding cattle were on their way to their homeland. The breed proved to be a phenomenal success in South Africa's arid conditions, to the extent that South Africa now has the largest herd of fullblood Pinzgauers in the world.
Surely there is no better testimony to the remarkable adaptability of this breed. The terrain and climate in Africa could not be more different to those of the original native Alpine regions.
This adaptability and hardiness was further proved with the Pinzgauers highly successful introduction to Canada in 1972 and the US in 1974. With their arrival in Australia in 1990 the Australian chapter in the Pinzgauer story has only just begun to be written.