Mr Robin Stanley with his Boran cattle. The cattleman by choice is very fond of these animals, which he says are referred to as God’s gift to the cattle man. Photos/Courtesy

Boran Cattle: The ‘mother’ of Africa’s meat industry

They are often referred to as God’s gift to the cattleman due to their ability to withstand prolonged droughts, high temperatures and scarce vegetation, yet despite this they have superior-meat producing qualities

By Joseph Kabia

In the heart of Salama hills in In the rugged terrain of Salama Hills, nestled within Kenya’s Makueni County, Robin Stanley, a dedicated cattleman, keeps a watchful eye over his cherished herd.

Robin’s sleepless nights are evidence to his unwavering commitment, especially when the rains evade the parched Kamba land, and the boreholes run dry.

“Water and grass are the lifelines of cattlemen,” Robin emphasises as he reflects on his journey with Boran and Holstein-Friesian cattle at Yoani Farm, a family legacy that has endured for over 70 years.

In this region, annual rainfall can plummet to as little as 293 mm, with 630 mm being the best-case scenario, and even that is not guaranteed.

Securing a reliable source of boreholes has been a perpetual challenge for Yoani Farm, yielding only a limited water supply for the animals.

“During the dry season,” Robin confides, “we bear the high costs of acquiring hay bales. At times we are forced to secure more than 5,000 bales to sustain our animals.”

But it’s not just the dry spells that threaten his livelihood and income; army worms invade during the rainy season, devouring the emerging grass.

“The army worms, along with illegal grazing, pose further threats to our cattle rearing,” Robin laments. “Their invasion is akin to de-horning a calf; once they consume the grass, it never grows back.”

Robin proudly tends to his 70 Boran cattle, including registered bulls recognised by the Kenya Boran Association. These cattle are often referred to as “God’s gift to the cattleman” due to their remarkable adaptability, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions.

“The Boran cattle breed holds a significant place in Kenya’s livestock history, known for its resistance, adaptability, and impressive meat-producing capabilities,” he says delving into the history of Boran cattle.

Originating from the Boran plateau, which spans Ethiopia and Northern Kenya, these cattle owe their genetic lineage to the ancient African cattle genetics honed over millennia of adapting to the harsh East African landscapes.

“The genetic history of the Boran cattle is intertwined with the unique environmental challenges of the region that they originated from. They have ancient African cattle genetics, which have been honed and perfected over thousands of years of natural selection and adaptation to the arid and semiarid landscapes of East Africa. They are considered one of the oldest genetically pure indigenous cattle breeds in Africa,” the cattleman says.

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Source:By Joseph Kabia