Popularly referred to as Boškarin, Istrian cattle is an original Croatian autochthonous breed inhabiting the peninsula of Istria and Kvarner islands. It belongs to the European cattle group Bos primigenius and has as such a certain phylogenetic relation to old cattle breeds inhabiting neighbouring countries.
Istrian cattle is primarily a working breed, historically used by the Istrian farmer for work in the field, which also pulled carts with heavy loads of Istrian stone and Istrian oak across long distances on rugged terrain during the Roman and Venetian occupation, for the purpose of building monumental buildings in Istria and as foundations for Serenissima - Venice.As a result of an abundance of other, highly meaty breeds with higher weight yield over less time, and the use of agricultural machinery, Boškarin has come to the brink of extinction. From 50 000 head in the 1950s and 1960s, Istrian cattle dropped to only some 100 head in 1990s.. However, thanks to the unique bond between the people of Istria and their cattle that has sustained them in Istria for thousands of years, the breed was rescued from extinction. Istrian cattle now have new economic and tourist significance and their meat has become a premium gourmet delicacy. Within the program for permanent protection of Istrian cattle, the new values of Istrian cattle stem from its natural nutrition and biodiversity of Istrian pastures, incorporate and validated in the unique meat of Istrian cattle.