Its quiet disposition could get you fooled. Despite its large muscular body frame, strong legs and wide berth, this animal displays an aura of timidity. Yet the Boran is a prize animal.
The breed originated from southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya and is often associated with pastoralists, who rear them primarily for milk and meat. It has since been adopted by commercial cattlemen and breeders.
This beef breed does well in areas with large open-grasslands and bushes, typical of ranches. Unlike the small East African Zebus that are the toast of many rural homesteads, this breed is much rarer.
Genetically, these animals are said to be “admixed”. This means that the breed’s genetic makeup comprises three ancestries; the indicine (humped breeds-Asian zebu), the taurine (hump-less breeds, both European taurine and African taurine). The exceptional performance of the breed in Africa has prompted the tag, ‘God’s gift to herdsmen’.
Feed conversion rate
Why God’s gift to herdsmen? The Boran are renowned beef breeds. Despite the docile temperament, they have a “fierce” feed conversion rate. This means they are very good convertors of roughage into quality beef.
The Boran can gain up to 0.7 -1.0 kg per day, depending on the grass quality. They are good grazers and browsers, with the ability to efficiently graze on available vegetation and said to “graze on the trot”.
They thrive best in ranches where they exhibit tenacity in terms of grazing and adapting to harsh arid weather. Their skin coats are sleek and shiny, a characteristic key to their ability to better regulate heat enabling to graze even in extreme heat.
This is an excellent phenotypic (outward appearance) attribute as the animal gets to feed more. Their excellent herd instinct skills make it easier to manage large numbers in open grazing fields.
The cows have excellent mothering ability and calving intervals are reportedly about 11 months, meaning you’ll have a calf every other year.
This breed has been the preferred choice for many crossbreeding programmes and embryo transfer technology. The crossbreeds have a commendable record as shown by the good growth rate of Angus and Boran crosses, with a daily weight gain of 1.36kg and can weigh an average of 436kg at 13 months. This is hybrid vigour at its best.
The improved Boran breed (a breed that has been developed through careful and continuous selection processes) demonstrates excellent beef production qualities.
The typical weight of a mature bull ranges between 650 and 850kg, while the cow weighs 380-500kg. A steer that is ready for slaughter, usually 3-3.5 years-old, weighs approximately 460kg. This is definitely a lot of meat on the bone.
This means farmers are guaranteed higher returns, of up to Sh90,000 per head.
Recently, a rancher sold a choice stud bull for Sh360,000. Given the current financial climate, the owners must be laughing all the way to the bank.
Most of the Boran rearing ranches are involved in large-scale export of primemeat and rearing bulls for breeding.
The writer is a livestock expert