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Boran Breed

Genus : - Bos
Species : - indicus
Breed : - Boran

Current published text states that origins of all domesticated cattle can be traced back to two
main centres, Asian (Bos indicus) and the Near East-European (Bos taurus). Due to recent
improved technology in the methods of genetic identification and new archaeological findings,
there is now believed to be a third origin, which was a native African taurine, centred in the
Saharan Belt of Africa (Bos taurus),.

"Genetics studies at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have shown that the
genetic composition of the Kenyan Boran is unique. If the genetic background of the Kenyan
Boran is predominantly zebu, the breed also contains taurine background of two separate
origins. A European-Near East taurine background of some antiquity and most likely also from
recent crossbreeding and an African indigenous taurine background which is not found in any
Asian zebu crosses such as Sahiwal or Brahman" (O.Hanotte. See also M.Okomo et al. 1998,
J.E.O Rege et al. 2001).

As revealed by O.Hanotte at ILRI, they have shown that the Boran genome contains three
distinct genetic influences. Other than the Zebu influence (Bos indicus), there are influences
from both the Near East-European Bos Taurus as well as a distinct influence from native
African Bos tarus. The predominant influence was however from the Zebu.

"The Zebus of the second wave have thoracic humps and started to come into north-east
Africa in the 4th century AD, but the major importations date only from the time of the Arab
invasions which started in 669 AD." "The Zebu were becoming common in Kenya in the 15th
century." Ian Mason, (Factors Influencing the World Distribution of Beef Cattle. F.A.O.1974).

From this 'genetic package', came the Borana cattle in Ethiopia, which became the dominant
breed type of the region known as the East African Shorthorned Zebu. They are typically the
cattle kept by the Borana in Southern Ethiopia and the Somali and Orma tribes of Kenya.
From these types came the Boran as adopted by commercial cattlemen in Kenya who
developed the breed we see today.

The Boran now found in Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Australia and USA originated from
genetic exports of Kenyan Boran cattle between the 1970's and 1990's. The breed in
Zimbabwe and South Africa came from embryos exported from the excellent facility on Ol
Pejeta Ranch at Nanyuki, Kenya, during 1994 and 2000.

The Boran produces high quality beef, utilizing low quality forage. This is substantiated by
data from The FAO/UNDP feedlot trial at Lanet in Kenya, where 7,625 Borans and crossbreds
were fed between 1968-1973. Similar evidence comes from 1998 trials in Queensland,

At Lanet, crossbreds between large European breeds and the Boran grew 31% faster on the
high concentrate ration (76% concentrate), but had no significant advantage over the pure
Boran on the low (33% conc.) and medium (50% conc.) ration. (Kenya Beef Industry
Development Project, 1974)

Trials in Nebraska, USA, show that the Boran and its crosses score consistently better than
other Zebu breeds for meat tenderness, carcase marbling and rib eye area. Butchers in
Kenya prefer Borans and their crosses for these reasons.

Borans are generally more docile and tractable than other Zebu cattle. Large numbers of Boran bulls
kept in one herd cause little trouble.

Females are easy to handle, although cows with newborn calves can be naturally aggressive when
protecting their offspring.
Boran cattle have a very pronounced herd instinct, making them easily managed in bush
country and well suited to cow calf operations.

They always stay together and defend against predators, thus ensuring high calf survival

Two way crossing is the simplest and most effective way of attaining and commercially
exploiting hybrid vigour. The all-round genetic package of the Boran cow makes her ideal for
producing F1 hybrids. Where pure Borans are available for commercial crossing there
remains no purpose in three-way or topcrossing on halfbreds.

 Height of typical mature bull: -

117-147 cm at withers

 Height of typical mature cow: -

114-127 cm at withers

 Typical carcase weight off grass:

230-260 kg dressed weight
with 52% dressing percentage

 Weight of typical mature bull: -

500 kg to 850 kg

 Weight of typical mature cow: -

380 kg to 450 kg

 Steers reared on grass: -

ready for slaughter between 3 to 3.5 yrs
36 -42 months) 420-460 kg

 Steers, supplementary fed: -

ready for slaughter between
18 to 22months @ 380 to 400 kg

 On average cows calve once a year: -

potentially 11 months (higher than other
indicus breeds)

 Average weight gains per day on grass & feedlot: -

Grass = 0.7 kg - 1.0 kg per day depending
on grass quality Feedlot = 1.3 kg per day
depending on type of cross used (this was found
at a recent trial at Marania Farm - Timau where
using Boran cross Angus steers & heifers)

 Milk Production from Boran / Friesian F1: -

1st Lactation : -
Av = 9.3 kgs per day
High= 13.8 kg per day
2nd Lactation : -
Av= 10.4 kg per day
High = 15.6kg per day
3rd Lactation : -
Av= 13.4 kg per day
High = 19.5 kg per day

 Exports to international countries?

Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Australia

 Origin / History?
Ethiopia over 2000 years old as domestic animal for milk / beef

 How pure is the stock?

Improved by commercial European ranchers -
early 1900's to date

 Typical weight - mature bull?

650 kg to 850 kg

 Typical weight - mature cow?

380 kg to 450 kg

 What are the steers reared on?

Predominantly grass

 What age are they ready for slaughter?

Between 3 years to 31/2 years

 Average yield of carcase?

52 % off grass

 With supplementary feed, how soon are they ready for slaughter?
18 to 22 months @ 380 to 400 kg.

 Describe the beef?

Tender and juicy

 Suitability for cross breeding with any dairy of beef breed?

DAIRY - Friesian cross
BEEF - all British & Continental breeds

 How soon do young cattle develop resistance?

From birth

 Is this a purely beef producing breed?

Principally yes, but also has good milk potential

 Does Boran cow yield adequate milk for its calves?


 Mothering abilities?

 Are calves guarded by mother?

Do they herd together?
Yes / Yes

 What is potential calving interval?

11 months

 Any calving / birth problems?

Hardly any

 Semen exported to breeders?

Yes - Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and East Africa

 Feed required, as compared to other breeds?

Much less

 Convert feed into more protein and butterfat per unit of body weight?

 Dairy producers can realize more profits potential while reducing management
Definitely yes

 Do Boran reach reproductive maturity at an early age?

Yes, if conditions are right, can be at 18 months

 Are Boran registered at birth?

By which governing body?
Book - birth notification soon after birth & registration?
Yes - Kenya Stud Book / before 3 years

 Thrive under extreme heat?

Yes, has many more sweat pores compared to European cattle

 Prone to tick attack?

Short, strong, shiny hair, which discourages tick attacks

 Walks long distances?

Yes, oval shaped conformation + slightly sickle hocks, which enable the Boran to
walk long distances without effort