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Local breeds of cattle

Local breeds of cattle
You can click here if you want to know about exotic breeds

What are local breeds of cattle?

These are breeds of cattle that are mainly kept for meat production. There over 250 local or beef breeds of cattle all over the world but the most popular among these are Angus, Brahman, Beef Master, Piedmontese, Herefordshire, Gelbvieh, and Limousin among others. 

Some common things you should know about indigenous cattle.

Indigenous breeds are mostly kept in communal areas, such as the Sanga (related to the South-African Nguni). These animals are well adapted to the harsh local environment, which is characterized by high temperatures, prolonged dry periods, pests and diseases.

Below are the some of the different types of the local breeds of cattle as seen below;

1. The small East African zebu

For example, the Nandi cattle in Kenya and Teso cattle in Uganda.

Origin; the original zebu cattle is believed to have developed in the Indus valley in India.


It is the most widely distributed type of cattle in East Africa. It’s a dual-purpose cattle breed.

Physical characteristics.

  1. Coat color: Solid or spotted, multi-colored, black, black and white, grey, with straight short hairs.
  2. Mature weight: bulls weigh 300-450kgs and cows weigh 200-350kgs.
  3. They are small and stocky.
  4. They have short horns.
  5. They have pronounced humps and small dewlap.

Performance in average

  1. Milk yield per lactation is 698litres.
  2. Butterfat content is 5.9%.


  1. Their main attribute is that they are better converters of local herbs and glasses into milk and beef.
  2. Heat tolerant and adaptable to a wide range of climatic conditions.
  3. They are resistant to diseases and parasites.
  4. They have a good temperament.
  5. They are trypan tolerant.
  6.  Relatively shorter calving intervals as compared to other indigenous breeds.

2. Boran

It is sometimes called N.F.D cattle (Northern Frontier District cattle).

Origin; Kenyan rangers developed the improved Boran breed of cattle from indigenous cattle of the Borana people of southern Ethiopia for beef production. It belongs to the group of people of the large East African shorthorn zebus.

Distribution; the breed is now found in southern Ethiopia, Somalia, Karamoja and other parts of East Africa.

Physical characteristics

  1. Coat color; tropically white or red also grey and fawn with dark spots and black pigmented skin.
  2. Mature weight; bulls weigh 550-880kg and cows weigh 400-550kg.
  3.  Fairly long head with a broad forehead. 
  4. Hump is large and thoracic.
  5. A heavily muscled body, well-developed hind quarters and an extended dewlap.


Daily weight gain is 450g.


  1. Responds well to high-quality feeding and are vigorous grazers.
  2. Disease resistant, suited to dry range land and a wide range of climatic conditions can live on low-quality feeds yet it performs well.
  3. High fertility rates, low calf mortality, excellent mothering ability, longevity and easily herded.
  4. Good to cross with Bos Taurus for meat and milk production.

3. Nsagala (sanga) cattle


Sanga cattle are found in Ankole and Kigezi in Uganda and in Northern Tanzania.


  1. They are fairly large.
  2. They have long horns.
  3. They produce more milk than East African Zebu.
  4. They are susceptible to diseases especially tuberculosis.
  5. They have poor meat conformation. I.e. they have a lot of bones and fewer muscles.

4. Intermediate type of cattle.

Animals in this group are a cross between the sanga and the short-horn zebu.

Distribution; they are the Nyoro and Nsoga cattle in Uganda and some are kept by the Masai in Kenya

Characteristics; they are bigger and produce more milk than zebu.

Attributes; they are less susceptible to tuberculosis.

You can click here if you want to know about exotic breeds
Mwato Moses
Dr. MWATO MOSES Veterinary Doctor