The orgin of Boran

 

“Early archaeological evidence suggests two centres for the domestication of cattle. The Humpless Taurine cattle were domesticated 8000 years ago in whatis now Turkey, and about 6000 years ago the Humped Zebu cattle were domesticated in the Indus Valley of Pakistan.”

Boran cattle were domesticated in 3 parts of the world:

 

  • Bos Indicus (Zebu cattle) domesticated in the IndusValley (Pakistan) 4000BC

  • European Bos Taurus domesticated in eastern Europe 6000 BC

  • African Bos Taurus domesticated in the eastern Sub-Saharan area
    8000 BC

 

Cattle were introduced to Africa

European Bos Taurus The first introduction was hump less taurine Hamitic Longhorns (Bos Taurus) and they arrived in the Nile Delta around 6000 BC. The second introduction, that of the taurine Shorthorns (B. Taurus) supposedly occurred about 2750-2500 BC.

 

The first introduction of the humped zebu Bosindicus cattle was early as 2000-1788 BC. The second introduction, associated with the Arab invasion of Africa, occurred from about 699 AD.

Genetic make-up of the Boran

Through DNA sampling Hanotte et al have analysed the genetic make-up of the Boran and it consists of the following genetic proportions:

 

  • European Bos Taurus 24%

  • Bos Indicus 64%

  • African Bos Taurus 12%

 

Longevity and other useful traits

The fact that nature has selected the Boran, makes it a fantastic cattle breed to

farm with extensively and still retain critical beef attributes.The breeding of the Boran has produced a range of useful qualities:

 

Find out more on "Why the Boran"

 

Boran in Zimbabwe

The origin of the Boran in Zimbabwe is attributed to Forrester Estate, a large integrated farming operation near Mvurwi in Mashonaland Central in Zimbabwe. It is a mixed farming enterprise with tobacco growing as its core operation. Tobacco demands long rotations with Katembora Rhodes grass, which is best used by cattle as grazing.

 

For many years Forrester Estate operated a three-way cross between Afrikaner, Aberdeen Angus and Simmentaler cattle to produce beef cattle for the local and export markets. In 1988 Rüdiger and Elisabeth von Pezold acquired Forrester Estate and begun investing in the rehabilitation of Forrester, which suffered from a lack of investment for a long time.

 

A new cattle section was set up with one manager responsible for all the cattle on the farm. In this process, all the cattle practices were reviewed and it was actually decided to move away from the old three-way cross, initially replacing the Afrikaner bulls which were no longer performing up to expectation.

 

The choice to use Boran

At the time it was fashionable to change to big-framed European animals, however, the owners and managers of Forrester did not believe this to be the correct route. These large-framed animals were dependent on crop residues and large quantities of maize to get them to size and are extremely management-intensive. After investigating the potential use of other popular breeds, it was decided to travel to Kenya to learn about the Boran breed and its possible application in Zimbabwe.

 

The trip was a great success. Many Kenyan owners hosted the visitors and generously showed them their herds – their pride and joy. One of the stations, Impala Farm, had actually been owned by Elisabeth von Pezold’s uncle, Prince Adolf Schwarzenberg. On their return, the Forrester team decided to go with the Boran breed and began a two-way cross beef herd and pedigree herd. Eventually the cross was replaced by a purebred Boran herd.

 

Introducing the Boran to Zimbabwe

Live animal import and the use of semen were not possible modes of breed transport and so a large scale embryo transplant was the only way forward. Paul Goodwin had previously been involved in an embryo transplant from Kenya to Australia and so arranged the team.

Forrester Estate organised and financed the majority of the project whilst Dr Percy Sharp, an embryologist; Paul Goodwin, a well-known cattle judge; and Jaap Moerman, an artificial breeding technician were also involved.

 

After semen collection, they began with the embryo flushing process with a batch of 100 cows. Out of the 100 cows, 99 were successfully flushed and 630 quality embryos were recovered, frozen and prepared for transfer to Zimbabwe. The relocation took time as the team waited for veterinary clearance, but as soon as clearance came through, the embryos were flown to Zimbabwe and implanted in recipient cows at Forrester Estate. Due to seasonal pressure, all embryos were implanted in one exercise, which affected the success rate. However, approximately 250 pregnancies were successfully achieved from the implants.