Latvia's Rare Blue Cows

It sounds like your classic old wives’ tale: blue cows delivered from the sea by mermaids. Yet at least part of this Liv legend is true – Latvia does indeed have blue cows. About 100 of them, to be exact, making it the world’s rarest breed of cow.

These curious ruminants originated in Latvia’s Kurzeme region. The first ones appeared in the early 1900s. No one is sure why or how they appeared, which is why the bit about mermaids can’t be completely ruled out, but their star quickly waxed as they proved remarkably resistant to cold, rain and wind – three things that Latvia has in great supply.

The blue-cow population dwindled to less than 50 in Soviet times, but began to rebound in the 1990s as geneticists realised the value in cross-breeding with these hearty beasts.

Records show that historically blue cows were found only in Liv households and never in Latvian ones. Today, you might be able to see them grazing on seafront meadows in the village of Mērsrags on the road between Jūrmala and Kolka.