Where small is beautiful
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CTA. 1996. Where small is beautiful . Spore 62. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47297
The Nguni breed of cattle, indigenous to South Africa, is being recognized as a breed that will play an important role in smallholder agriculture. Efforts to conserve it are being stepped up. In the classification of cattle, the Nguni breed is a...
The Nguni breed of cattle, indigenous to South Africa, is being recognized as a breed that will play an important role in smallholder agriculture. Efforts to conserve it are being stepped up. In the classification of cattle, the Nguni breed is a subspecies of Bos indicus, and is closest to the Sanga types. The Sanga cattle differ from the Zebu in the size and shape of the horns, and their hump is placed in front of the withers whereas the hump of the Zebu sits above the front legs. The Nguni, originating from Zululand and southern Mozambique, is well adapted to a hot, harsh environment. They are small animals, with cows weighing about 350kg, and have a quiet temperament which makes them very easy to handle. They are also very finehaired but the hair is extremely dense; the skin is thin but pliable and is not easily damaged when grazing among thorn bushes. The Nguni shows good resistance to ticks if it is allowed sufficient tick challenge. Too frequent dipping reduces tick resistance and, consequently the resistance to some of the tick-borne diseases. The females are some of the most fertile cattle in the world, but there can be problems with the bulls as they may suffer from testicular hypoplasia. Several years ago the South African government set up a research station, the Bartlow Combine in KwaZuluNatal, to save the Nguni, and a breed society was formed. In the past, breeding attempted to make the breed bigger and more suited to commercial needs. However, the aim now is to retain the small size and develop it as a milk breed for the smallholder. The Nguni has been tested and records show that cows can yield between 12-14 litres per day off rangeland without supplementary feeding. Bhartlow Combine KwaZula-Natal Department of Agriculture Private Bag X9059 Pietermaritzburg KwaZulu-Natal SOUTH AFRICA