9 African Cattle Breeds: An Overview

Africa is home to more than 150 different cattle breeds. We often overlook other types of cows found in different regions of the world, as we have grown accustomed to the ones we commonly see in the US. These cattle have had to adapt to various environmental conditions throughout the past few centuries, given the vast size of Africa. It is difficult to fathom how other countries, such as Africa, can compete with the United States, Brazil, and Europe, which are the largest beef producers globally.

Today, we will guide you through the types of animals that are most prevalent in Africa presently, and there is a significant assortment of livestock variation in this region of the globe.

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1. Nguni Cows

Nguni Cattle
Image Credit: holmespj, Pixabay

The Nguni breed is native to parts of southern Africa. They are actually a hybrid of European and Indian breeds that eventually became a part of some Bantu-speaking tribes. These cows are known for their high resistance to diseases and high fertility rates. They have many different patterns of multi-colored skin. The distinguishing features of these cows include low cervicothoracic humps and black-tipped noses.

2. Ankole-Watusi Cows

Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

These cows stand out because they have unusually large horns, reaching over three feet long on each side. They can come in many different colors, but they are usually red. These cows come from a group of Sanga cattle breeds that originate from central and east parts of Africa. Crossbreeding has made these cattle far more popular here in the US.

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3. African Cattle

Afrikaner Cattle
Image Credit: Alta Pretorius, Shutterstock

Native to South Africa and nearly extinct in the early 20th century, this bovine species, also known as the Africander, has experienced a resurgence. Frequently characterized by their deep red hue, elongated limbs, and slender physique, these animals possess excellent tolerance to scorching and dry climates due to their more efficient sweat glands compared to other cattle breeds.

4. Bonsmara Cows

Image Credit: Erich Sacco, Shutterstock

The Bonsmara cattle breed, which originates from South Africa, must conform to breeding standards, be de-horned, and have red coats. These cows were strictly bred for grazing in sub-tropical climates, and there were many of them at the time.

5. Boran Cows

Boran Cattle
Image Credit: Jaco van Rensburg, Shutterstock

Boran cows are one of the most popular breeds of beef in East Africa. They were first bred in southern parts of Ethiopia. Most of these cows have fawn or white coats, with many males being darker. They are well adapted to resist parasites and mature early.

6. N’Dama cattle

The breed N’Dama, also commonly called Boenca or Boyenca cattle, originated from the Guinea highlands in Africa. These large beef cattle are trypanotolerant, meaning they can be kept in fly-infested areas without catching diseases.

7. Drakensberger Cows

These bulls, which originated in South Africa and have become prevalent around the world, are known for their even temperaments, high fertility, and milk production. Bulls can weigh anywhere from 2,500 pounds and up when mature. Their coats are smooth and long, and they are black-colored, large, and stocky.

8. Abigar Cows

Abigar Cattle
Image Credit: MoreToTheShell,Pixabay

They are resistant to disease outbreaks and water shortages, heat, and drought. They can produce over 4 cups of milk for every lactation, making them some of the hardiest animals on the continent. Abigar cattle are usually found in eastern Africa and are primarily used for dairy farming.

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9. White Fulani Cows

The Fulani breed another important cattle in Africa. They were conquered by the Fulani people, who have lyre-shaped horns that are white in color. The Fulani cattle are separate in present and origin, with both white and Red variations.

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How Were Cattle Transported to Africa?

There are over 100 cattle breeds that have been identified in Africa, many of which didn’t actually start there. Most of the cattle in Africa today came from the areas where Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Israel currently sit. So, how did they get there? For the most part, these animals started to migrate south and interbreed with local species thousands of years ago. Many of their genomes are still similar to the cattle that were first domesticated in the Middle East. Of course, this isn’t their only form of travel. Human travelers have moved different cattle breeds from place to place. Over time, they have become widespread, and many of the top breeds today can be found in countries across the globe.hoof print divider

Summary: Breeds of Cattle Found in Africa

It is truly incredible how many breeds of cattle have been able to adjust and tolerate the illnesses and heat here in the US, as well as adapt to the harsh surroundings. Living in Africa, you must be able to adapt to the harsh surroundings and heat. While most of today’s cattle are domesticated, it is interesting to understand their history and how they ended up in different places. Africa has created some of the most unique and beautiful creatures that currently roam our planet.

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