6 African Cattle Breeds with Pictures

African Cattle Breeds

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The African continent is home to many popular cattle breeds. Some of these cattle are raised for meat whereas others are for milk production. The African cattle breeds are not only popular but well-loved among the cattle industry.

These breeds are evolved over the years to withstand the harsh life of Africa. These cattle with glossy coats are closely related to the rich history of the continent.

Though the origin of most of these breeds is unknown, they were evolved through careful selection. The modern-day cattle breeds have all the attributes to put up with the worse situation and food shortage in different parts of Africa.

African Cattle Breeds

  • Afrikaner
  • Nguni
  • Boran Cattle
  • N’Dama
  • Tuli Cattle
  • Drakensberg

1. Afrikaner


Afrikaner or Africander is a taurine-indicine cattle breed native to South Africa. This unique-looking breed has deep roots in the history books of South Africa.

This hardy, no-nonsense African cattle breed has many functional traits valuable for several cross-breeding programs.

History – Though the origin is unknown, however, evidence suggests that they share co-ancestry with the Nguni and Drakensberger breeds, the other two important African indigenous breeds.

As per the anecdotal evidence, herds of Afrikaner-like cattle were kept by the Khoi-Khoi people since the 15th century. The breed became almost extinct during the Second Boer War.

Many conservation efforts improved the number of Afrikaners. These cattle were then sent to Australia, the US, and other parts of the world.

Color and Size – The breed shows high uniformity in color, typically deep red that can vary from light tan to deep cherry red. The mature muscular Afrikaners weigh between 1150 – 1350 pounds.

This cattle breed has a small cervical-thoracic hump and muscular loins, rump, back, and thighs but a fairly shallow body. Related 5 Fluffy Cow Breeds with Pictures

Uses – Khoikhoi primarily kept and raised these cattle for beef and milk.

2. Nguni


Introduced by Bantu-speaking tribes to Southern Africa, Nguni has been shaped into a hardy breed through natural selection and the African environment.

Named after the black tribe of Africa, this medium-sized cattle breed is well-adapted to harsh climatic conditions and grazing on the highveld.

History – Nguni cattle are believed to be the descendants of both Bos taurus and Bos indicus cattle. Their ancestors were brought to South Africa thousands of years ago by Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele, Swazi people, etc.)

Nguni people brought this hybrid of different Indian and later European cattle breeds when they migrated from the North to the continent. Different strains of the breed developed as the tribe settled in different areas. Learn 17 Black and White Cow Breeds with Photos

The late Professor HH Curzon has remarkable contributions in saving the true Nguni cattle.

Color and Size – This sub-type of Sanga cattle has black, brown-red, dun, yellow as solid colors or in combination with other patterns. Their multi-colored skins have different patterns. learn White Faced Cattle Breeds 

The sleek and glossy hide provides resistance to ticks and immunity to tick-borne diseases.

Mature Nguni bulls weigh between 500 and 600 kg whereas cows weigh around 300 and 400 kg.

Uses – It is a dual-purpose African cattle breed farmed for milk and meat.

3. Boran Cattle


Boran is native to Eastern Africa, more precisely, the northern area of Kenya, on the Somali border. Many Kenya and South African farmers consider it the best indigenous breed of East Africa.

The modern-day Boran cattle evolved to be highly efficient and productive through careful selection. Though originated in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, the breed is now spread across the globe.

History – It is believed that the ancestors of Boran cattle arrived in Africa about 1300 to 1500 years ago. The breed evolved from indigenous short-horned Zebu cattle of the Borana Oromo people of southern Ethiopia.

Kenyan Boran is predominantly zebu, however, it also contains the taurine background of two separate origins. The last infusion of new genes happened in 700 AD, ever since then, it has been bred as a pure breed.

Color and Size – The medium-sized beef animal can be grey, fawn, or red in color and 114cm to 147cm tall. Mature Boran males and females weigh 550 to 850 kilograms and 550 to 850 kilograms respectively. This breed can be brown cattle breed.

This cattle breed has a medium size, short head, small ears, loose dewlap, and a large hump. Having lived in Africa for thousands of years, it is well-adapted to local conditions and parasites.

Uses – Boran cattle are mainly raised for beef production.

4. N’Dama


N’Dama is also known as Boca, Boyenca, Faouta Longhorn, and N’Dama Petite. N’Dama is a hardy cattle breed originating from the west of Africa. It is one of the first cattle breeds introduced to Africa by the nomadic people.

Now, it is mainly found in the Guinea highlands as well as southern Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia.

History – N’Dama cattle is responsible for the development of another African cattle breed. This cattle breed was crossed with Red Poll cattle to develop the Senepol breed.

N’Dama cows and bulls are now present in different parts of the world. These animals are trypanotolerant that allows them to be kept in tsetse fly-infested areas. They are also immune to the diseases they carry as well as many stomach worms.

Colors and Size – These small-sized cattle have compact bodies usually fawn-colored. However, the color varies from sand to black. The average height is between 100 cm and 125 cm whereas the weight varies from 250 kg to 360 kg.

They have short legs, thick necks, a fairly broad back, lyre-shaped horns, a straight profile, and a broad muzzle.

Uses – It is a dual-purpose African cattle breed used for milk and meat production.

5. Tuli Cattle


Tuli is a form of Sanga breed that evolved thousands of years ago in Africa. Hailing from Zimbabwe, this breed is closely related to the popular indigenous breeds of Africa.

Tuli is raised in sandy, semi-desert areas in Namibia, Botswana, and the Northern Cape as well as Zimbabwe, Limpopo Province, and the Lowveld of Mpumalanga.

Being native to Southern Africa, hardiness and adaptability are bred into them through natural selection and environmental selection.

History – The breed was developed after the natural mixing of indigenous cattle with the Zebu cattle. Tuli is closely related to the Tswana breed from Botswana.

In South Africa, the Tuli breed after crossing with Limousin developed the Tulim breed. These cattle were sent to Argentina, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Tropical Zambia, and the United States.

As the potential of Tuli cattle was recognized by the South African breeders, there has been an increase in the population of this breed.

The moderate-framed cattle are renowned for early maturity, docile nature, good mothering ability, and high fertility.

Color and Size – Tuli cattle have three basic coat colors; red, yellow, and white. These coat colors offer adaptation to heat and intense sunlight.

The weight of mature Tuli bull ranges between 750 kg to 850 kg. However, the adult cows weigh slightly less, ranging from 400 to 500 kgs.

Uses – Raised for their high-quality beef that is praised for flavor, tenderness, and marbling.

6. Drakensberg


It took several centuries to evolve into the modern species that it is today. This medium-framed beef animal contributes to the beef requirements of Africa.

It is a truly indigenous African breed that is born, bred, and developed in South Africa through natural and scientifically based selection.

This hardy native breed shows incredible resistance to diseases and is famous for surviving the Time of Great Trek with no vaccine, medicines, and Tick remedies.

History – The indigenous cattle possessed by the Khoi and Bantu tribes of the Western Cape is believed to be the ancestor of this breed. The native black cattle were crossed with eight imported Gröningen bulls.

It is one of the first synthetic cattle breeds developed after the intermingling of genes of widely different cattle breeds. Drakensberger were called Uys cattle until 1947.

They adapt well to the local conditions and can live in the hottest parts of Africa with over 48 degrees Celsius temperature.

Drakensberger also performs well in minimum temperatures as low as -18 degrees.

This Africa’s profit breed is easy to farm, hard, cost-effective, and productive.

Color and Size – Drakensberger is characterized by its signature black coat. This medium to large-framed mature bull weigh from 820 kg to 1100 kg, and cows from 550 kg to 720 kg.

Uses – Raised for beef production, their succulent, juicy, and flavorful meat makes it on the top 10 list of highest quality beef.


In brief, cattle breeds belonging to Africa are popular worldwide. These breeds are hardy and have amazing adaptability to the harsh climatic conditions of Africa.

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