Buša is a recognisable and unique breed of cattle from Croatia, but also from the wider region.
Buša is a native breed from the Dinarides that until the middle of the 20th century, in the karst and mountainous areas of Croatia, dominated cattle production and everyday rural life.
There are few written traces of how the Buša looked like at the time. The first detailed description of the Buša, or Illyrian cattle, dates from 1985, where it is described as a small cattle, almost always monochromatic with a characteristic light tone, and in light cattle a dark stripe on the back.
Bušas are used as draft animals, and also for beef and milk production. Although their work capacity is modest, the animals are disease-resistant, well-adapted to harsh climate, and require little food. The milk performance is 700–800 L per annum. The milk contains about 4–6% milk fat.
Today, Buša are breed across all of Croatia, but the majority of farms are located in the Lika-Senj County where we visited one.
Situated 900 meters above sea level in the picturesque village of Visuć, near Udbina, is OPG Dejanović.
After working most of life as a priest and religious education teacher, some 15 years ago owner Bariša Dejanović decided to change careers and with his two brothers, Josip and Franjo, decided to start a farming business together.
“We knew we wanted to do something in agriculture and with a native breed to the area,” Bariša explains.
Since the sheep farming market was overcrowded, they decided to raise Lika Buša, which have a protected status in Croatia.
The brothers started by purchasing two Buša each, and that quickly grew and today they have more that 300 roaming on their 300 hectare farm. They also have around 100 other breeds on the farm.
“We decided we wanted to do everything according to ecological standards and we are the first ecological cattle farmers in the Lika-Senj County,” says Bariša, who is also active in developing, promoting and protecting cattle farming in Croatia.
He is the vice-president of Buša Association in Croatia and one of his latest successes is securing a short chain supply for Buša cattle farmers in Lika, which will enable them to sell their products directly to consumers.
Bariša says that Lika has a lot to offer in terms of local food and that more could be done to get local products in local restaurants.
“Whilst famous Lika potatoes, Lika lamb and Lika škripavac cheese can be readily found on tables, more unknown local gems such as Lika asparagus (kuka), Medvjeđi luk (wild garlic), which grows in abundance in Lika, and Lika truffles all deserve to be found more,” he concludes.