The robust Sanga: Unveiling the characteristics of Zimbabwe’s indigenous cattle
Zimbabwe's rich agricultural landscape is home to a variety of indigenous cattle, each breed boasting traits that have been honed over millennia to thrive in the African environment. Today, we're diving into the characteristics of the three indigenous Sanga cattle breeds of Zimbabwe: the Mashona, Nkone, and Tuli.
The collective value of these indigenous breeds, especially in the more marginalised areas of Zimbabwe, cannot be overemphasised. Understanding their attributes is crucial for appreciating their role in sustainable beef production, especially under challenging conditions. These breeds are unsung heroes of Zimbabwe's cattle industry, demonstrating enormous potential.
The Sanga cattle group, consisting of the Mashona, Nkone, and Tuli breeds, represents a lineage well-suited to the varying climates of Zimbabwe. Despite their intrinsic value, there is a knowledge gap regarding the formidable traits of these breeds. Their geographical roots are as varied as the landscape of Zimbabwe itself. The Mashona originate from the north and northeast, the Nkone from the west, northwest, and extreme southeast, while the Tuli hail from the southwest.
Coveted beef production traits
Zimbabwean indigenous cattle breeds shine as beef producers, embodying all the quintessential characteristics sought after by cattlemen and farmers:
- Beef Quality: Exhibiting excellent beef conformation with a high meat-to-bone ratio.
- Maintenance: Hardy breeds that are low maintenance.
- Physical Traits: The bulls display pronounced masculinity, while the cows are noted for their femininity, both in demeanour and appearance.
The resilience factor
Adaptability is the hallmark of these breeds, with traits fine-tuned for survival. All three breeds have high fertility rates and exceptional nurturing skills. They are capable of producing ample milk, resulting in healthy calves. Their herd instincts are exceptional and strong community behaviour provides natural defenses against predators and theft.
Designed for tough environments, every aspect of these cattle breeds is a testament to their resilience. They are renowned for their hardiness and maintain productivity despite arduous conditions. They are docile and their temperament is due to their historical co-existence with humans. However, the females are very protective mothers. When it comes to foraging, they all display exceptional browse utilisation, thriving even when grass is scarce. Another important feature of these breeds is that they have a high resistance to disease and parasites due to their unique physical features such as a sleek hide and a glossy, short and dense coat.
An efficient and sustainable choice
Zimbabwe's indigenous breeds are not just survivors; they are efficient producers. They are all noted for their early maturity and have a long, fruitful life span.
They are perfect for pure breeding but their economic viability comes into its own in cross-breeding programmes as commercial herd “improvers” in beef production. The Mashona and Nkone are small to medium-framed cattle and Tuli have medium to large frames. If the animals are being reared in very tough conditions, the smaller framed breeds are ideal and the medium to large framed animals are ideal for not such harsh conditions.
Given their exceptional characteristics, Zimbabwean indigenous cattle are the ideal choice for farmers. Tuli, Mashona and Nkone cattle are a treasure trove of traits beneficial for our cattle farming. Their resilience, efficiency, and adaptability make them indispensable in the current and future landscape of agriculture under adverse conditions. It is time these breeds gain the recognition they deserve for the sustainability and prosperity of cattle farming in Zimbabwe.
Examples of Mashona Cattle
Examples of Nkone Cattle
Examples of Tuli Cattle
Upcoming Indigenous Breeds Sale to showcase Sanga breeds
The upcoming Zimbabwe National indigenous breeds sale will showcase our unique Mashona, Nkone and Tuli breeds. This is the first time the three Indigenous cattle breed societies have combined to hold a breed sale and it promises to be a very special event.
There will be selected bulls and females for sale from the three adapted Sanga breeds. These will have been approved prior to the auction sale, by the parent breed societies registered by Zimbabwe Herd Book and bred in Zimbabwe.
The sale takes place on Africa Day, May 25, 2024, at 10am.
It will take place at the ADMA Agrishow, ART Farm, Harare.
PROUDLY ZIMBABWEAN, ORIGINATING IN ZIMBABWE