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Breed Details
Region of the world: South Africa
Name variations: Africander, Afrikaner, Africaner, Afrikanerbees (Afrikaans)
Breeds related to: Sanga
Breed Group Sanga
Breed Status: Common

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Breed Information

The Afrikaner cattle (Afrikander cattle) are a hardy breed of beef cattle which are popular in South Africa. In Afrikaans, this breed is called Afrikanerbees.1

The modern Afrikaner is an easy-care, trouble free, no-nonsense Breed. Outstanding tick-disease and heat resistance, An indigenous Breed extremely well adapted to extensive conditions, Easy to handle, Ideal for cross-breeding, Low maintenance – requirements – 100 Afrikaner cows with calves can thrive on the same pasture area as 80 large framed cows with calves.2

The Africander is a native South African breed. It belongs to the Sanga type and is used primarily for meat production. The breed is usually red with long lateral horns. Sanga type cattle, in huge herds, were owned by the Hottentots when the Dutch established the Cape Colony in 1652. The animals were obtained by the colonists who improved them for use as draft animals. It was Africander oxen that drew the wagons which carried Boer farmers and families on the Great Trek of 1835 - 36 from the Cape of Good Hope to the Orange Free State, Natal and the Transvaal to escape British rule. the word trek is originally Afrikaans, meaning draft.

The Africander is South Africa's most popular native breed, comprising 30% of the cattle population. Africander cattle exhibit good resistance to heat, a high level of tick resistance, quiet temperament and a satisfactorily high level of fertility under harsh conditions. Mature cows weigh approximately 525 to 600 kg (1150 - 1350 pounds) and bulls weigh 750 to 1000 kg (1650 - 2200 pounds).

The Africander was used with Shorthorn in developing the Bonsmara breed and with Holstein in creating the Drakensberger.

Africander in Australia
The small numbers of Africander cattle in Australia have developed from a relatively small base importation from America. As it belongs to the Bos indicus group, the Africander is mainly found in the hot-tropical-humid and sub-tropical-dry areas of Australia.

The Africander tends to late maturity and yields a carcass with comparatively low fat cover. Through the use of bulls and frozen semen, the Africander has been used in up-grading indigenous cattle in tropical countries as it passes on fertility, docility and excellent weight gains to progeny.3

Group Origin:
The term 'Sanga' is an Ethiopian word meaning 'bull' and it relates to the origin and centre of dispersal of this group of cattle breeds. It is in this part of East and Northeast Africa where sanga cattle first evolved as a result of the interbreeding of the Longhorn-, Shorthorn- and zebu type cattle, commencing about 3000 to 4000 years ago, a process that has continued up to the present time (Payne and Wilson, 1999). The sanga show a mixture of features from the zebu (humps and dewlap) and Humpless cattle (long horns and no humps). Another theory based on archaeological findings (Muzzolini, 2000) maintains that African humped zebu evolved in central Sahara in the first millennium BC, which possibly provided the foundation for crossing with the Humpless Longhorn cattle to produce the sanga in the Sahara, from where it gradually spread with migrating Nilo-Hamitic and Hamitic peoples across central and southern Africa. However, recent molecular genetics evidence (Hanotte et al., 2002) suggests that genetics introgression of the Bos indicus (zebu) spread from the Horn of Africa to the west of the continent and the zebu genes might have dispersed rapidly into the indegenous Africa populations. In any case, the sanga breeds of cattle dominated the cattle population in the region until 1887, when Italian priests imported a shipload of Italian cattle and introduced the cattle plague (Rinderpest). This disease annihilated most of the existing cattle populations, especially the Sanga, and led to the first great Famine in East Africa. After the epidemic, zebu cattle were continually introduced along the coastline and crossbreeding with Sanga remnants resulted in several zebu-Sanga and Sanga-zebu populations (Felius, 1995). The present distribution of the sanga cattle extends from Eritrea, through Ethiopia, southern Sudan and the Great Lakes region of East Africa to southern Africa where they are the traditional cattle in all countries south of the Zambezi. Since the cattle plague, eastern Africa has been dominated by the short-horned zebu. While there are hardly any breed improvement programmes for the sanga of eastern Africa, the majority in southern Africa have well-organised programmes and most have breed societies. Selective breeding of the Mashona, Tuli, and Africander resulted in local cattle more productive in beef productivity than exotic beef breeds. They have also provided the basis for the Commercial Composite breeds of South Africa, namely Drakensberger and Bonsmara (Payne and Wilson, 1999).
Breed Origin :
The original cattle and their traditional owners arrived in South Africa about 590-700 AD and migrated along the western side of southern Africa to areas of the western Cape Province. The breed evolved through gradual genetic selection (initially for traction) from among the acquired local Sanga stock by settled Dutch (Afrikaans) in South Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. Surviving herds of the Rinderpest plague of 1896-99 and the Boer War of 1899-1902 provided the foundation stock of the modern Africander breed. The herd book was set up in 1907 and the breed association was established in 1912. The breed has since been exported to neighboring
Main Location:
Mostly maintained by commercial farmers (of European origin) in South Africa, and is the most popular indigenous breed. Also found in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, DR Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Felius, 1995).

Special Characteristic:
Characteristic body conformation, large size and spreading horn that are oval in cross-section; the preferred coat colour is dark red; good walking and grazing ability; easy calving, exceptionally good mothering ability that provided ideal mother line for crossbreeding and the development of hardy composites; good longevity; good quality beef and high performance tropical beef breed. 4

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Afrikaner's Breeder's Society
  3. Oklahoma State University
    • Genus Bos: Cattle Breeds of the World, 1985, MSO-AGVET (Merck & Co., Inc.), Rahway, N.J.
    • Mason, I.L. 1996. A W.orld Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.
    • Handbook of Australian Livestock, Australian Meat & Livestock Corporation,1989, 3rd Edition
  4. DAGRIS: Domestic Animal Genetic Resources Information System, International Livestock Research Institute

Breeder's Associations

Additional Information

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