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African Cattle: many differences, one species

Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)

There are more than 150 Cattle breeds in Africa, but the majority of them are either unknown or poorly studied.

Over the centuries, African cattle adapted to many different environments and conditions making them aquire some unique features.

According to FAO, African Cattle can be classified as follow :

  1. Hump-less or vestigially-humped cattle of the lower Nile valley and Mediterranean Africa
  2. Zebus of sub Saharan zone – this group can be subdivided into:
    1. medium – and short – hornet zebus
    2. Lyre – and long – horned zebus
  3. The hump-less, straight-backed cattle of West Africa
  4. The Kuri cattle of Lake Chad – hump-less and with characteristic bulbous horns
  5. The cattle of central and southern Africa. These cattle are characterized by large – or medium sized. lyre-shaped horns, small or vestigial humps and moderately sloping hindquarters
  6. Eastern Africa Cattle – mostly like the central and southern Africa cattle
  7. The Africander cattle of southern Africa
  8. The Madagascar zebu

African cattle have some specific morphological structures that distinguish them from the others. The main features, as we mentioned earlier, are: horn, shape and size. There are some additional features that make this cattle different from the others and they are :

  1. Disease resistance
  2. Climatic stress resistance
  3. Productivity traits

African cattle: history and value

African cattle breeds are more resistant to tick infestation and trypanosome infection – Trypanosomosis is a tsetse-transmitted disease in vertebrates – .

Thanks to their evolution, African breeds can effectively regulate their body temperature to better adapt to hot weather conditions.

Last but not least, African cattle have an important social and economic role in the whole Continent and in people’s everyday life. Besides this, cattle is the main source of proteins in Africa and it produces, with manure, one of the best soil fertilizes. Some communities also use manure as fuel.

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