“We have found that the animals develop much better in a family unit and the harmony of the herd significantly improves the quality of the meat! As a result, we have set up the herds in such a way that several generations of calves are able to live with their mothers.” - Nils Peter Czaja
ZEBU CATTLE: FROM SOUTH-EAST ASIA TO GERMANYThe third stage of the Epic Meat Tour takes us to Brandenburg to see one of the most unusual breeds in Germany. The Zebu cattle which Nils Peter Czaja breeds here are among the smallest cattle and are probably only familiar from Westerns. The welfare of the animals is extremely important to Nils Peter Czaja, so he wanted to give them living conditions that are as natural as possible. He has managed to do so by allowing his cattle to live like wild cows over large areas of Brandenburg. Zebu cattle originate from South-East Asia and accordingly have different requirements to conventional breeds of cattle in Germany. They like the heat and dry ground. Czaja has been able to provide them with the latter, at least, on his farm.
But it is not only the living conditions, but also the harmony in the herd that is important for high-quality meat, according to Czaja. For Czaja, the mother is the key to a healthy calf, because she is able to provide it with enough protein for a sufficiently long period. The calves are therefore kept with the herd and grow up there with its other members. Patience plays an extremely important part in Czaja’s rearing methods. He always keeps the Zebu cattle until they are about 5 ½ to 7 ½ years old and they are part of the herd throughout.
The best known feature of Zebu cattle is their hump. This is an elongated neck muscle which does not have any specific purpose. The name Zebu is derived from the Tibetan word “ceba”, which means something like “hump”. As the hump of the animals is extremely firm, it is ideal for making ham. Together with meat expert Ronny Paulusch, Czaja has specialised in this “hump ham” and their unique ham has already been awarded a gold medal.
THIS IS WHAT MAKES THE HAM FROM THE ZEBU CATTLE SO SPECIALNot only the special maturing processes but also the unique flavour, achieved with special spicing, make the ham of Ronny Paulusch and Nils Peter Czaja so distinctive. The ham loses about 30 - 40% of its weight through moisture loss alone, but the flavour remains. This gives not only a very delicate, but also a very intensely flavoured ham. In addition, the Zebu ham has perfect marbling, which could easily be mistaken for the marbling of Wagyu beef. But the Zebu ham is much more exclusive, as it is only possible to bring a maximum of 40-50 hump hams onto the German market every year.
SMOKING! PREPARING ZEBU BEEF IN THE SMOKERBut you can also smoke the hump. Our digital smoker is ideal for this. This high-tech smoking oven is easy to use and perfect for preparing smoked meat in your own garden. With the digital smoker, the overall temperature and core temperature can be monitored continuously and the cooking time controlled. We prepared the Zebu hump with various herbs and spices, which penetrate the meat nicely over the 6 - 6 ½ hours at 120-135°C in the smoker.
You can find more information about the various cuts of beef here.