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 Salzburg 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.
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. 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
Pingauer in Austria
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 Pinzgauers in the world.
South African Herd
This adaptability and hardiness was further proved with the Pinzgauers highly successful introduction to Canada in 1972 and the US in 1974.
Pinzgauers continue to thrive in a wide range of extremely varied climatic conditions proving their remarkable adaptability. From the mountains of Europe, the frozen prairies of Canada to the semi arid areas of South Africa, the breed has thrived.
The first record of Pinzgauers in Australia was in the early 1900’s. It is not known for sure how they got here but some may have come on to Australia at the same time that they were imported to South Africa. Such is the dominance of their unique markings that traces of that early herd can still be seen in the paddocks of the Hunter Valley.
In 1990 renewed interest was shown in Pinzgauer with a quantity of embryos and semen being imported from Canada. Selective breeding complemented with genetics imported from South Africa and Europe has seen the breed developed in Australia as a beef breed. Originally a horned breed, intensive effort has been put into breeding a polled dominant breed and this is now showing results.
Pinzgauers in Victoria, Australia