Rutting season is nearing end

Mon. 2 – 09 - 2013

No this is not about the deer rut. This is about the rut of the auroch and their substitute rewilded bovines. As a result of de-domestication or rewilding this natural phenomenon is slowly reappearing.

Just like any wild animal, rewilded cattle have a matting season which extends through July and August. Locally this can also be seen into September. During their rut bulls battle to get excess to the cows. These impressive shows are a new feature to enjoy in Europes wilderness areas, with heavy fights, dust being kicked up into the air and subsonic roars travelling of long distances to claim first rights. For calves it’s best to be born during early spring when all plants start to grow. This is called birth synchronization. Under ideal circumstances the rutting season is adjusted accordingly.

Rewilding cattle within our nature reserve are direct descendants of domestic animals. Because farmers are present year round and sufficient food is always made available it became less important to give birth under ideal circumstances. Fertility of cows extended throughout the year. Also the number of bulls on a farm is usually limited. Such working methods which have grown over centuries.

Within nature cattle are walking a path in the opposite direction, a process called de-domestication or rewilding. Aim is for the animals to reclaim their wild ancestors, the aurochs, niche. Birth synchronization slowly returns, causing the auroch or cattle rut to reappear. Natural circumstances, with food availability limiting survival, leads to a higher need to give birth during early spring. Depended on local circumstances this rut shows during July or August.

Birth synchronization isn’t something which just appeared overnight. FREE Nature has been rewilding its animals for over 20 years and has witnessed the slow return of their rut. Continuing the process of rewilding we expect to bovine rut to become more visible and enjoyable in time.

Top: Rewilded Galloway bulls impressing each other ©
Bottom: Heck bull stays with this young Heck cow for a couple of days, making sure he is the one to mate with her, Roeland Vermeulen, FREE Nature