Saving Them from Extinction: Father and Son Raise Istrian Goats

Saving Them from Extinction: Father and Son Raise Istrian Goats

May 2, 2023 - The symbol of Istria, the Istrian goats, which can be found on the Croatian coat of arms, were threatened with extinction. However, the numbers have now well improved. This was confirmed by Igor Merlić, director of the Agency for Rural Development of Istria. Last year there were only 40 Istrian goats, and today the number has reached 130.

There are about forty Istrian goats on Ivan Milohanić's (35) estate near Poreč. Ivan has been goat farming for ten years. And that's after work, as his day job is a bus driver. But his face lights up when he talks about life with this symbol of Istria, writes 24Sata.

He gets up every day around 5:30 a.m. because the goats require milking and grazing, and then he goes to his "real" job. Goats are his life and the life of his family. And his son Luka, who is still in kindergarten, already knows what he needs to do to make the goats listen to him.

"I just lift the stick, and they know how far they can go without going into the olive trees because they would chew everything," five-year-old Luka explains.

His father Ivan added that Istrian goats must have horns. Females have beards, and most have pigment on their skin and a more muscular physique than, for example, Saanen goats. The colour of Istrian goats is white, sometimes slightly beige.

They know Ivan really well

As Ivan stepped on the ground where the goats were, the goats galloped towards him. All of them. Because they know they will get something to eat. They know that Ivan never comes empty-handed. Ivan's herd enjoys 1.5 hectares of fenced land, and each one is given great attention.

"There are forty Istrian goats in my herd, and they are all wonderful. The goats are out grazing every day for 5 to 6 hours. Like other goats, they eat everything and like the bud the most because it is the sweetest. We also prepare what the goats must eat to be healthy and strong, which are cereals we produce ourselves without any additives. There is barley, oats, meadow hay... I have an OPG, so we also have olives, vines, and vegetables; everything is homemade. These days, you are wealthy if you produce your food," he said.

His Istrian goats come first to him. After driving his passengers in the morning, he returns to his goats; in the afternoon, he drives the bus again, and in the evening goes back to the goats.

"Pupica, Belinda, Kolinda (named after the former Croatian president), Maza, Sisi, Šarka... Kolinda is among the older goats; she is nine years old and is a real lady. Goats usually live for about 12 years. We produce cheese, milk, cottage cheese, and whey, as well as goat meat that is extremely tasty and of high quality. All is homemade, and people appreciate that. Everyone is happy to come back again, which makes me happy. After donkey's milk, goat's milk is the closest to mother's milk and is full of vitamins. People who suffer, for example, from bronchitis and other conditions related to the respiratory tract should drink goat's milk. The goat only eats healthy and chooses plant by plant what to eat", says Ivan. 24Sata asked him if he had a favourite in the herd.

"Pupica is my favorite"

My favorite is Pupica because I feel like we somehow understand each other. The goat senses your mood. The goat can sense it and step away if a person is nervous. Leave you alone for a bit. They'll definitely come back to be pet, and these animals are like puppies, only much more timid", Ivan said tenderly while petting Pupica.

There is beauty at every corner of his goat farm. There are currently six herds of Istrian goats in Istria, but the number is growing. Ivan started breeding Istrian goats ten years ago, quite by accident.

"First, I bought five goats when there were 34 of them in all of Istria. That was ten years ago. Now we have selection coming up, and we will only leave goats in the herd that give more milk. We will also start producing goat products. I currently milk about twenty goats, and they give about thirty liters of milk a day. I drive the bus in the morning; I return home around 9.30 to milk the goats, which takes me about two hours. Of course, my family jumps in on the work. Then I take them out to graze, drive the bus again, and milk the goats. Whoever thinks it's easy, let them try it", says Ivan and continues.

"It is still love that will help our Istrian goats to survive rather than profit. The goat is a cuddly animal and, like any real Istrian, very stubborn. In the end, they will always do what they want. I also got the horns a few times, and I can say it's a strong kick. I read that a goat remembers about fifty pictures. When I stand by the olive trees with a stick, as soon as I raise it, the goats don't go in that direction. But as soon as I leave, they will gladly bypass the rules and enjoy some olives", concluded Ivan laughing.

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