Short and wide with a broad muzzle. Prominent, protective eyebrows. Small ears and not pendulous (unlike some Asian breeds). A proportion of the breed is naturally polled.
All our stud bulls are carefully drawn from ancestry pedigree lines from Kenya. Our current stud bull is a pedigree boran bull with its origin as Kenya. We care to use only pure boran bulls to improve our beef herds that are comprised of Ankole cattle and Ankole X Boran crossbreeds.
Our choice for the boran as our beef animal is predicated on the well-developed beef conformation that shows up in carcase appraisals. The depth of eye muscle, marbling, even fat cover and ratio of hind to forequarter make the Boran difficult to beat, hence the preference of butchers for boran cattle.
oRIGIN OF THE BORAN CATTLE
Current published text states that origins of all domesticated cattle can be traced back to two main centres, Asian (Bos indicus) and the Near East-European (Bos taurus). Due to recent improved technology in the methods of genetic identification and new archaeological findings, there is now believed to be a third origin, which was a native African taurine, centred in the Saharan Belt of Africa (Bos taurus).
"Genetics studies at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have shown that the genetic composition of the Kenyan Boran is unique. If the genetic background of the Kenyan Boran is predominantly zebu, the breed also contains taurine background of two separate origins. A European-Near East taurine background of some antiquity and most likely also from recent crossbreeding and an African indigenous taurine background which is not found in any Asian zebu crosses such as Sahiwal or Brahman" (O.Hanotte. See also M.Okomo et al. 1998, J.E.O Rege et al. 2001).
As revealed by O.Hanotte at ILRI, they have shown that the Boran genome contains three distinct genetic influences. Other than the Zebu influence (Bos indicus), there are influences from both the Near East-European Bos Taurus as well as a distinct influence from native African Bos taurus. The predominant influence was however from the Zebu.
"The Zebus of the second wave have thoracic humps and started to come into north-east Africa in the 4th century AD, but the major importations date only from the time of the Arab invasions which started in 669 AD." "The Zebu were becoming common in Kenya in the 15th century." Ian Mason, (Factors Influencing the World Distribution of Beef Cattle. F.A.O.1974).
From this 'genetic package', came the Borana cattle in Ethiopia, which became the dominant breed type of the region known as the East African Short horned Zebu. They are typically the cattle kept by the Borana in Southern Ethiopia and the Somali and Orma tribes of Kenya. From these types came the Boran as adopted by commercial cattlemen in Kenya who developed the breed we see today.
The Boran now found in Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Australia and USA originated from genetic exports of Kenyan Boran cattle between the 1970's and 1990's. The breed in Zimbabwe and South Africa came from embryos exported from the excellent facility on Ol Pejeta Ranch at Nanyuki, Kenya, during 1994 and 2000.
some impressive qualities of the boran cattle
Survival: Boran cattle have developed adaptive traits of crucial importance for their survival. Some of these characters are: - Ability to withstand periodic shortage of water and feed, ability to walk long distances in search of water and feed and ability to digest low quality feeds.
Ability to walk and survive starts with sound feet and leg conformation. Dark pigmentation and black points protect against sunburn. The herd instinct of the Boran makes it easy to manage and survive in bushy farmlands.
Walking Ability: Borans are known to have the stamina to walk long distances in search of pastures. They are not easily fatigued. This ability among cattle breeders and farmers is greatly admired.
Drought Resistance: Animals with Boran genes have a relatively low maintenance requirement. This was substantiated in a recent study at the US Meat Animal Research Centre in Nebraska". (Haile-Mariam, Sprinkle et al. 1998).
"…young Boran animals can make dramatic recoveries after drought years when pasture conditions improve" (Coppock, 1994.)
Being adapted to hot dry conditions, the Boran, with its lower maintenance requirement has a better chance of surviving droughts than many other breeds.
Kyankwanzi district where Nimukama Mixed Farm is can often have long dry spells with only two long rain seasons in the year; as such the boran is very suited for this environment.
Mothering Ability: We have found all our boran cattle and cross breeds to possess strong mothering abilities. They’re excellent mothers. The mothering cows feed their calf (ves) so well that high weaning weights are attainable. They’re also extremely possessive and guard against predators, and will never allow their calf(ves) to get lost in the bush.
Heat Tolerance: The Boran Breed has good heat tolerance. "The sweat glands are more numerous and are larger than those of Bos taurus and the skin surface is increased by the presence of extra folds…" (MacFarlane, 1964) Dark skin pigment protects against sunburn.
Trials in Kenya (D. Robertshaw & V. Finch, Nairobi 1973) showed that B. indicus has a relatively lower metabolic rate than B. taurus and under heat stress there is less metabolic heat to be dissipated and the shiny coat reflects a high proportion of solar radiation.
While European cattle stop eating and seek shade during the heat of the day, the Boran continues to graze. Under demanding conditions where cattle have to be penned at night because of stock theft or predators, this is a plus point for the Boran.
Adaptability: For half a century, the improved Boran from Kenya has penetrated into many areas of Eastern Africa, Zambia and the Congo where conditions differ from those prevailing in semi-arid Kenya. Reliable sources of information have shown that the Boran has adapted well to these diverse environments where, according to reports, they are more productive than the local cattle breeds. At our farm, they continue to thrive, and they’re simply a joy to look at and raise.
Longevity: Boran cows live long and productive lives and remain sound for fifteen years or more. The practical effect of this trait is a low replacement rate of the breeding herd. Bulls are active and fertile until well over ten years of age.
Disease Resistance: The boran cattle generally have high immunological resistance to diseases especially foot and mouth disease, East Coast Fever (ECF). They’re naturally more resistant to these kind of diseases than most other exotic breeds in the tropics.
"One genetic feature which seems clear is that cattle of Bos indicus type are naturally more resistant to ECF than Bos Taurus type". (A. D. Irvin and M.P Cunningham. East Coast Fever, Diseases of Cattle in the Tropics, Ristic & McIntyre).
Furthermore, "The Orma Boran has been shown to have a degree of trypanotolerance." (R. Dolan, Nairobi 2001).