Bovec sheep has been cultivated in Alps since prehistoric times. With selecting young animals they had been creating different breeds of this specimen that served different purposes. With time there were three different breeds with focus on milk, wool and meat respectively.
Animal rearing has always been the base of existence for people living in Bovec region. Besides cattle they are also raising the so called small cattle, like sheep and goats. The counting of livestock in 1910 showed, that there have been 1583 pieces of cattle, 3351 pieces of goats and 7533 pieces of sheep. Those numbers are clearly showing that sheep breeding, in the era before World War I, presented the base of economy in this region,
Among all sheep that were pasturing on this piece of land lying under peaks of Alps, domestic breed called Bovec sheep prevailed. Sheep of this breed is of average weight and well adjusted to pasture on steep surfaces. It has strong bones and clawed hoofs (like capricorns or ibex), which are allowing them easy movement through steep and rocky surfaces. On such places the most succulent grass is growing, so their milk is of unique taste and also excellent base for delicious Bovec cheese.
Today, packs of 5-10 Bovec sheep are grazing above the tree line in the area of Kanin, Mangart, Krn and other peaks in the Bovec area. Those surfaces are not appropriate for cow grazing because of their steepness. Wool of Bovec sheep is white and needs to be sheared twice a year. In the past days wool was purified and spun at home, where people also knitted various products.
Breed of Bovec sheep was seriously endangered after World War I, because of the war happening on main area of their living, but breed managed to survive and became stronger after it. World War II was even more cruel for this breed due to another reason. Secret all-Serbian policy had an agenda to destroy autochthonous breeds of animals, vines and fruit of Slovenian area, and thus erase historical and cultural identity of Slovenian people. Victim of this agenda was also Bovec sheep, not only by killings, but also with the loss of their archive in the 60s in Ljubljana and completely blocking their lamb sale in the 80s. On that point this breed was on the verge of extinction.
If it weren’t for Yugoslavia’s breakup that surely would have happened. With the help of local people, this breed didn’t only manage to survive, but also entered the genetic bank of Slovenian autochthonous breeds in the 90s. They also founded special club to care for their existence and development.
With this step Bovška sheep became a symbol of not only Bovec area, but also of ancient milk sheep breeding in the Alps.
CHARACTERISTICS OF BREED
Ewes of this breed are of medium weight, typically from 40 to 50 kilograms and rams weight from 50 to 60 kilograms. Most of them are white, but we can also find them in dark brown, black or piebald color. Breed has coarse wool, which consequently is the reason for larger amounts of milk they produce. Their character is meek with friendly appearance and they like to socialize in herds.