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The reasons for the introduction of cattle passports in Serbia
Kovacs Ivan - graduating student
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Agriculture, Veterinary medicine
Supervisor: Mirko Sinković


In the Balkan of the Middle Ages trade was in the hands of the Italian city-states. Trade with Serbia was arranged by the eastern Italian states. The main seaport of Medieval Serbia was Kotor. The tradesmen of Venice stayed in touch with Serbia via Kotor. Kotor was the main city of foreign trade, via which gold and silver was transported to Venice, only to be taken further to the Italian state.

'Brdski' ie. highland horses used for the transport of goods, were much sought after in the 13th century. Vlah stockbreeders performed the job of transporting with their horses. Lambs provided clothes and food for the people. The quantity of wool intended for foreign trade was much smaller than that intended for domestic trade. Ewe's cheese was important both as food for the people, and as a foodstuff for foreign trade.

Nearly every layer of the population of Feudal Serbia, including the ruler himself: Milutin (1282-1321), reared swine. As a consequence of the Turkish conquest the livestock-market regressed. The people had to pay tax in cash to the sultan.

The greatest threats for stockbreeders were infectious diseases and famine. These two disasters nearly always walked hand in hand with riots and wars. Cattle-plague was present in Asia almost continuously. Thanks to the Turkish conquests, this disease appeared in Europe as well. While cattle were dying of the eastern cattle-plague, sheep-pox was taking its toll on lambs. Therefore the Austrian authorities banned the importation of lambs from Serbia.

Maria Theresa (1740-1780) made an important decision to stop the spreading of this disease. She granted physicians permission to investigate this ailment. She permitted meat and animal trade only if the animals had been examined previously and had a certified cattle licence.

The Austrian and Hungarian authorities exerted pressure on Serbia to take veterinary-police measures (1850). In order to live up to the expectations, Serbia accepts the veterinary profession in 1850.

The Veterinary law of 1888 (Zakonom o uređenju veterinarstva) deals with the issuing and employment of the cattle passport in great detail. The cattle passport was used to prove ownership, it served as a health certificate, and also played a role in taxation: the money generated by passports was used to make the veterinary profession more efficient.

We owe the emergence of the veterinary profession to epizooties, they forced man to pay more attention to the selection of animals. Only the healthy and physically fit animals were allowed to be taken to market, the best of these animals became pedigree stock, whose offspring often surpassed their parents.

Unfortuantely, history crushed this conscious selection numerous times at the expense of animal breeding. Still thanks to the issuing of cattle passports, sick animals were not driven to other regions. The veterinary profession grew stronger, so much so, that it was capable of keeping epizooties under control. Thanks to the collaboration of veterinarians, today the eastern cattle-plague cannot be found in Serbia or Europe. An opportunity for teamwork of this magnitude is rarely seen in history. The lesson to be learned from this example is that we cannot achieve our goals on our own. We tend to see how we are different, instead of seeing how we are alike, ant this attitude may lead to conflicts.

Keywords: infectious diseases, trade cattle, cattle passports

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