The Schloss Hof estate farm has so much to offer in sheer animal fun: a special attraction – the 200 or so faunal inhabitants and the petting zoo. Whether ancient Austrian domestic breeds such as the Jezersko-Solčava sheep and rock partridges, or the white donkey typical of the Baroque era and the exotic Bactrian camel, they mainly represent breeds that have now become rare. The appealing quadrupeds feel on top of the animal world here and delight their public all the more because of their regular production of babies.
White Donkey © SKB, Photo: Friederike Scheytt
Noriker © SKB
Bulgarische Langhaarziege © SKB
Hungarian Racka © SKB
Zwergziegen-Kitze © SKB
Fourhorn Goat © SKB
Brahma Riesenhühner © SKB
White Peacock © SKB
White Peacock © SKB
Bactrian Camel (two-hump camel) © SKB
Sulmtaler Huhn © SKB, Foto: Katharina Zoufal
Walachenschaf © SKB, Foto: Astrid Knie
Minishetty © SKB, Foto: Friederike Scheytt
Jezersko–Solčava sheep © SKB, Photo: Slawik
Lipizzan © SKB
Jakobsschaf © SKB, Foto: Friederike Scheytt
Lamas © SKB
Gidran © SKB, Foto: Slawik
Shagya Araber © SKB
Shetlandpony © SKB, Foto: Slawik
Alpaca © SKB
Steinhendl © SKB
Maultier © SKB
Cröllwitzer Pute © SKB, Foto: Sebastian Eder
Ouessantenschaf © SKB
Nonius © SKB
The Catalan Donkey (c) SKB
Minipigs © SKB
Some of the animal residents in detail:
The extremely rare Austrian-Hungarian white Baroque donkey is one of the faunal highlights at Schoss Hof. Only a few hundred of the “light-bringers” still exist in the whole of Europe. Apart from the colour of their coat – called “cremello”, or cream, since it is not pure white – the donkeys are also characterised by their blue eyes and good-natured temperament.
Bactrian Camel (two-hump camel)
Prince Eugene and his soldiers were familiar with camels from their combats against the Ottomans. They are working animals and extremely robust and adaptable. They can cope with outside temperature fluctuations of up to 80°C and manage on very little water – essential in their habitat. Their humps do not contain water but fat, which is an energy-saver.
Lipizzans, or Lipizzaner, owe their name to the stud in Lipica, Slovenia, founded in 1590. The breed is closely associated with the House of Habsburg. The noble horses are born black and become white between the ages of four and ten years; they very rarely remain brown or black. Lipizzans are world-famous because of their performances in the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. At Schloss Hof they work as coach horses and for riding.
The name of these rare heavy horses derives from the Roman province of Noricum, which covered a part of the Austrian Alpine regions where these horses originated. In the Middle Ages they transported goods from Italian ports across the Alps. Noriker horses can have various coat colours and work at Schloss Hof as coach horses.
(Mini-) Shetland Pony
Their name derives from the Scottish Shetland Islands, their original home. In proportion to their size they are among the strongest horses in the world. The cute ponies of Schloss Hof work pulling coaches and perform circus tricks. And pony riding is particularly popular. The miniature Shetland is a product of selective breeding of the Shetland pony and grows to a maximum of about 8 ½ hands, or 34 inches.
Fourhorn goats are extremely rare and are a special attraction, just as they were in the Baroque era. In Austria there are around 70-100 examples of this species. They are remarkable for the unique feature of four evenly spaced horns. Once upon a time Prince Eugene was also the proud possessor of such animals.
The Racka is an ancient and protected breed of sheep. The robust horn-bearing animals have particularly thick black or white wool. They are striking for the V-shaped, corkscrew-spiral horns. Racka sheep are the typical breed encountered in the Hungarian flatlands. Their wool is used to make the traditional shepherd’s cloak, the shuba.
This extremely rare bird originated in India and has been bred in Europe since the eighteenth century. The white peacock, also called the Wedding Peacock, was originally reserved for the upper classes and is a mutation of the blue peacock. When the peacock opens its plumage for the guests of the estate farm the whole glory of this noble bird becomes manifest.
Kalofer Long-haired Goat
These goats were originally kept by mountain farmers in Bulgaria. Their long hair provides excellent protection in all weathers and was fashioned into textiles and carpets.
This species of sheep takes its name from the dark pigmentation around their eyes. The sheep were husbanded on high-altitude mountain terrain where the pigment protects the eyes against the sun, in actual fact performing the same function as our sunglasses.
This brown-and-white spotted sheep – sometimes boasting 2-6 horns – is kept both for landscape conservation and for wool. Its name comes from the Bible, according to which the shepherd Jacob was given the spotted animals for his herds (1st Book of Moses, chapter 30, verse 32).
Royal Palm Turkey
The black-and-white Royal Palm turkey is a rare. lightweight type of this species. Turkeys are the domesticated form of the wild turkeys of the USA. The Royal Palm turkey supplies particularly fine-textured and tasty meat.
The cross-breeding of a horse mare with a donkey stallion produces an exceptional animal: the mule. It combines the best characteristics of horse and donkey and for this reason was bred already in Antiquity.
The ancestor of this Hungarian warm-blooded horse breed was the Anglo-Norman Nonius, which arrived at the Hungarian State Stud in Mezöhegyes in 1815 in the form of a 5year old male, which had been looted from France during the Napoleonic Wars. These horses are still bred at the stud.
They are powerful even-tempered horses with expressive slightly convex-shaped heads, called either a ram's head or Roman nose. They are often dark brown or black in colour. The Nonius was mainly used as carriage horse, either for pulling artillery or as a farm horse.
Llamas and alpacas were domesticated in South America around the year 3000 B.C. Alpacas are smaller than Llamas and are bred for their fine wool, for which the animals are usually shorn once a year.
Wallachian sheep (Racka)
They were taken to central Europe by Romanian shepherds in the 13th century. Frugal and robust, they were usually bred for milk production, but in harder times their meat and shaggy rough wool was also appreciated.
This Styrian breed has become very rare. They are resilient to the weather and famed for their tender meat. They also produce approximately 150 eggs a year. It is known that the court at Vienna exclusively used this particularly tasty breed of chicken for eating.
Llamas and alpacas are technically camels, but originate from South America. They are smaller in size and lack humps. In the countries where the llama is native, it is used for carrying goods, but also for producing wool and meat.
Of Asian descent, these huge chickens were brought to Europe in the 19th century. Their feathered legs and great size (up to 5 kg for a cock) make them quite impressive.
Colourful, vital and easy to breed, this accurately describes the Stein Chicken. It is one of the oldest breeds of chicken from the Alps and has its origin in Styria, Austria. The very robust Stein chicken is lightweight and a good flyer, providing both eggs and meat. It was very common up until 1970s when changes in farming practises discouraged the use of chickens that could flew and numbers decreased rapidly. The remaining population worldwide is only about 100 – 200 animals, at the moment.
The Ouessantsheep, also known as Breton mini sheep, is the smallest sheep in Europe with a withers height of approx. 45 cm. It originates from the Île d’Ouessant which is in the Atlantic French Ocean. It has no trees and a very harsh climate. That is why only the strongest and frugal animals survived and formed this small, robust breed that can cope with worst conditions.
The majority of Ouessantsheep (> 70 %) are of black colour but there are also grey, white and brown animals. The males have spiral formed horns, the females have either very small or no horns.
The Catalan Donkey
The Catalan donkey is a breed of large domestic donkey from Catalonia in north-eastern Spain between the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees. It is one of the largest breeds of donkey in the world and its coat is black-brown with white areas around the eyes, muzzle and belly. Earlier the Catalan donkey was used as farm animal; now superseded by the machine it is threatened with extinction today. Around 540 animals are registered in the stud book. The Catalan strain was crossed with many other donkey breeds or first founded them. The Catalan donkey is the pride of Spain and, besides the bull, is the unofficial national symbol of Catalonia. The two jennies at the Schloss Hof Estate answer to the names of Xata and Taqueta.
Minipigs are common pigs that are bred in smaller size. Pig is the domestic form of wild boar and one of the earliest domesticated animals in human history, being kept already about 9.000 years ago (Neolithic era).
In the last decades minipigs have grown more and more popular as pets, but they are kept for medical research as well. Pigs in general are very intelligent and clean animals.