Ubre Blanca (c. 1972–1985) was a cow in Cuba known for her prodigious milk production. The cow, along with the "Cordón de La Habana" coffee plantations, the Voisin pasture system, and the microjet irrigation system, symbolizes Fidel Castro's efforts to modernize Cuba's agricultural economy. The Spanish phrase ubre blanca translates to the English phrase "white udder."
Ubre Blanca produced 109.5 liters (241 pounds) of milk on a single day in January 1982 – more than four times a typical cow's production. The cow also produced 24,268.9 liters of milk (about 55,090 pounds at 2.27 pounds per liter) in 305 days (one lactation period) ending in February 1982. Both feats were recognized by Guinness World Records as world records. The cow was a cross between a Holstein bull (also known as a dairy cow) and a zebu (native cow species that did not produce milk). The current annual production record is 75,275 pounds, set by LA-Foster Blackstar Lucy in 1998 at the LaFoster Dairy in Cleveland, North Carolina.
Use in Cuban propaganda
Castro referred to Ubre Blanca's prodigious output in speeches as evidence of communism's superior breeding skills, and the cow's achievements were often printed in Cuba's government-controlled newspapers. On May 21, 2002 the Wall Street Journal published an article about Cuban attempts to clone Ubre Blanca, in which they reported that Ubre Blanca's sire was actually a Canadian bull. To many Cubans, Ubre Blanca evokes memories of the era before the so-called "Special Period" – the economic collapse that followed the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba's main benefactor, beginning in 1989.
In 1985, Ubre Blanca was euthanized around the age of 13 (the exact age is unknown). The cow's death was commemorated by Communist Party newspaper Granma with a full obituary and eulogy. Taxidermists stuffed Ubre Blanca and put the body in a climate-controlled glass case at the entrance to the National Cattle Health Center, a 45-minute drive from old Havana, where it still remains. Ubre Blanca was honored by her hometown of Nueva Gerona, which erected a marble statue in memory of the cow. Since the cow's death, Cuban scientists have unsuccessfully attempted to clone Ubre Blanca using frozen tissue samples.
They were educated men,
how could they not know what was coming?
How could they not save Ubre Blanca
from the endless speeches, the cameras, and the fist?
- Acosta, Dalia. Still a Dream to Clone Miracle Cow. Terramerica Archived 2006-06-22 at the Wayback Machine.
- Coman, Julia. Sydney Morning Herald, June 22, 2002
- Holstein World, February 1999
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Rowan County. Archived 2005-04-28 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on February 19, 2007.
- Comanthe, Julian. Castro commands: clone our supercow. Telegraph. June 15, 2002
- https://web.archive.org/web/20050418142437/http://asturiasliberal.org/files/ubre.JPG Picture of Fidel Castro with Ubre Blanca
- GM watch article