Always in the Alpine territories of Europe, the relationship between the environment, animal and agricultural products takes on a special value and plays primarily with regard to the preservation of the environment a fundamental role. The interaction between these elements has given rise to several beef breeds particularly adapted to these environments. During the 1980s, breeders associations of these races, based on well-established technical and scientific knowledge, have developed improvement programs that have enabled successful exploitation of the productive and functional potential of mountain bovine breeds.
The breeders of these particular mountain bovine breeds, along with their breeding organizations, are not only concerned with the quantitative improvement of the production, but also the quality of the produce. In order to better coordinate the commitments at European level, the Federation was founded. Its constitution dates back to the beginning of the nineties, when in Aosta at the concordance of the Centenary of the Bovine Valdostana Breed on 9 May 1992, the 10 Association of Breeders of Mountain Breeds signed the documents of the "European Federation of the Alpine System Bovine Breeds "- FERBA Since then, various initiatives and studies have been undertaken to support breeders of these breeds. They do not, however, allow to completely ward off the risk of extinction of these breeds.
The Associations Associated Breeders in F.E.R.B.A. they deal with bovine breeds which have the following common characteristics:
- are being raised for the most part in small businesses;
- they have excellent grazing characteristics and are able to exploit even the alpine high altitudes;
- are carriers of particularly precious genotypes;
- are part of alpine tradition and culture;
- are the basis of many typical products;
- do not generate overproduction.
These * characteristics can also be referred to as "alpine system". Other races outside the Alpine Arc, such as the French Vosges breed (Vosges) and the Hinter- and Vorderwälder breed of Black Forest in Germany, joined the Federation.
These breeds have retained their quality of origin, and this is their characteristics and attitude for the production of milk and meat. They are also fed mainly with fodder of corporate origin. These races represent the link between resources naturally present in mountainous areas - grass - and productions such as milk and meat and their transformation products. In fact, it is mostly races related to the production of typical cheeses or breeds suitable for both milk and meat production.
The races gathered at F.E.R.B.A. have in common this system, although each one stands out for its own characteristics.
The breeds F.E.R.B.A. they then perform two important functions that complement themselves in an ideal way:
1. Guarantee the protection of the latter through the presiding of the man on the territory;
2. they give rise to the production of high quality food.
Although in the mountains, the unit production of fodder is smaller and, on the one hand, it restricts production in quantitative terms, on the other hand it increases its quality. From this we can deduce that these races contribute decisively to the protection of the environment and to the protection of mountain areas. They also play an important role in producing high quality regional foods.
But despite the increased attention and the measure taken, the danger of extinction of the F.E.R.B.A. is not yet completely overturned.
Today in nearly 30,000 companies are bred 290,000 heads of the 14 participating breeds, small numbers, if we consider them at European level, but which play a decisive role at regional level.