This 1600s painting in Germany is thought to show an auroch or a cross between an auroch and another type of cow.

This 1600s painting in Germany is thought to show an auroch or a cross between an auroch and another type of cow.

The aurochs were powerful. They trampled down the fields to keep invasive plants from growing there.

The aurochs were powerful. They trampled down the fields to keep invasive plants from growing there.

“Heck” cattle are another modern breeding attempt. They were developed in Germany.

“Heck” cattle are another modern breeding attempt. They were developed in Germany.

Aurochs boasted broad horns.

Aurochs boasted broad horns.

Ever Met an Auroch?

Posted: November 1, 2020

Conservationists have big plans for the huge-horned tauros. They want these wild cattle do the job that once belonged to the auroch.

Have you ever met an auroch? We’re pretty sure you haven’t—unless you’re a time traveler visiting from sometime before the 1600s. You may have seen this super cow in a picture of a cave painting though. The auroch stood almost six feet tall. It was slender but strong. It moved swiftly on long legs. The auroch could defend itself from wolves with its long, heavy horns. Speaking of heavy . . . aurochs could weigh more than 1,000 pounds.

Aurochs had the ability to live in almost any habitat in Europe. And they did! Wild herbivores such as aurochs grazed all over the continent. As they munched, they cleared land. This kept baby trees from growing. The open, unforested land made by aurochs provided a home for many other animals and plants.

People hunted the fierce auroch for food and sport. It was dangerous business. An auroch could kill a person easily.  

Still, overhunting and disease wiped out the auroch. The last one died in Poland in 1627.

Bringing Aurochs Back

Today, fewer and fewer people farm cattle in Europe. The wide-open habitats created by their grazing disappears. So do the plants and animals that once thrived in them.

What can people do? Bring the aurochs back . . . or at least try to. The tauros now roaming Milovice came from the Netherlands. There, people are trying to make a new auroch. How? They’re “back-breeding.” That means they’re combining old cow breeds that look and act like aurochs. They think they’ll be able to breed a bovine with genes similar to those of the original super cows.

People can’t create an animal God made, of course. But they can breed animals to fill a need. Are tauros the same as aurochs? No. They’re substitutes. Like aurochs, they can clear land and can fend off predators. With each new generation of breeding, the tauros resemble aurochs more.

For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. — Psalm 50:10