There are over 1 000 cattle breeds in the world today, with more than 30 beef breeds registered in South Africa. These can be divided into three subtypes, or a mixture thereof: Bos taurus, B. indicus and B. taurus Africanus, also known as Sanga cattle.
B. taurus cattle, which do not have humps, originated mainly in Eurasia, in areas with high rainfall and low temperatures. They include British breeds such as Angus, Hereford, Sussex and Shorthorn; European breeds such as Simmental, Charolais, Braunvieh, Limousin, and Pinzgauer; and Japanese breeds such as Wagyu.
B. indicus is the collective name for humped cattle, such as the Brahman, which originated in South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan.
According to Dr. Michiel Scholtz, a specialist researcher at the Animal Production Institute of the Agricultural Research Council, the Sanga appears to have emerged from East Africa and crossed with B. indicus and B. taurus cattle as these migrated into Africa.
Indigenous South African cattle, such as the Afrikaner and Nguni are therefore classified as B. taurus africanus.
“These breeds do not have B. indicus blood, because B. indicus breeds are highly susceptible to tsetse fly [bites], resulting in their elimination as they moved down south [from their origins]. The Boran, which originated in East Africa, does, however, have both B. indicus and B. taurus blood,” says Scholtz.
In the search for more efficient cattle, composite breeds, including the Bonsmara (Afrikaner x Hereford and Shorthorn), Brangus (Brahman x Angus) and Beefmaster (Brahman x Hereford and Milking Shorthorn).
RESILIENCE AND ADAPTABILITY
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