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Bororo Cattle

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Other common names: M'Bororo Cattle; M'Bororo Zebu; Red Bororo; Red Fulani Cattle; Bororo Zebu; Red Zebu; Red Peul Zebu; Djafoun; Rahadji; Fellata; Foulata

The basics:
The Bororo Cattle is one of the most common cattle breeds in the Sudano-Sahelian ecological zone of West Africa. It is a large breed, supremely well adapted to arid regions. It is found all the way across West Africa from Senegal to Nigeria and has been introduced by nomads into Chad.

The Bororo is classed as part of the West African Zebu breed group and are directly descended from the original zebu (Asiatic cattle) introduced to Africa about 3800 years ago. They have the classic long, lyre-shaped horns of the African longhorn breeds. The Bororo is by far the commonest longhorn zebu type in West Africa and accounts for almost 60% of the total herd.

Like all zebu breeds, they mature slowly and though this is a large animal adult weight is not gained until six years of age. They are of medium height but quite muscular. At birth calves weight some 15 to 20kg and birthing is typically easy. Annual growth rate is about 70kg per annum. Milk production is maximally about 4l per day at the beginning of lactation, but tails off to 1.5l at the end.

Appearance / health:
The Bororo is a medium-sized cow, with the bulls growing to about 1.5m tall at the withers (the cows are smaller). They have the distinctive long, lyre-shaped horns of many West African cattle breeds. Typically the skins are black or flame red, though a white subtype is also known. The hair is short and sleek in appearance. The faces are very fine and the ears are large and spatulate. The breed is characterized by the ventral part of the belly which is distended in appearance.

The Bororo has a pronounced zebu hump on its back. This contains fatty deposits that act as water and energy storage, allowing the Bororo to survive a considerably time without food or water. The hooves are unusually broad and the toes are often widely spaced, an adaptation to frequent travel on sand.

This is a very healthy animal that is well adapted to a nomadic existence. It stores fat as an energy and water reserve and can travel long distances without requiring food or water. Though they can store water, they do still need to drink regularly. Their natural semi-arid environment means that they do not often suffer from external parasites. Recent studies have shown that the Bororo is partially resistant to trypanosomiasis.

Behavior / temperament:
Unusually for West African cattle breeds, the Bororo are known for being fierce and rather temperamental and the bulls can be a handful to handle. But, as they can live in regions where few other animals can exist they are economically important. They are calmer as a herd and the long daily nomadic marches they are subjected to seems to help keep them under control.

Housing / diet:
Bororo cattle have been selectively bred to be very hardy and resistant to heat. Indeed, they can be herded across the dry Sahel region of West Africa. Under normal conditions they are raised outdoors all the time, only being tethered at night so that they can be guarded from predators. In cooler climates they need to be housed indoors, particularly during the colder and wetter months.

They have very efficient digestive systems that can digest any type of plant matter. They grow slowly and require much less fodder than other cattle breeds.

Written by Dyfed Lloyd Evans