Article by: Julie Havercroft
The Boran Breeders Society held its third national sale at Mount Hampden at the end of June and sold 65 head of cattle. Nearly a month before the upcoming National Sale, this sale whet people’s appetite and gave people there a taster of what’s to come from Boran breeders in Zimbabwe.
One breeding cow sold for $2300. Sixteen bulls sold for an average price of $4753 and the top price of the sale was $8750, fetched by a bull belonging to Mark Hook, Mutorashanga. It sold to a stud breeder from Arch Borans. 16 bulls sold at an average of $4753. 32 bulling heifers sold for an average of $2195, the top price for this category was $3750. Sixteen lots of cow and calf sold for an average of $2500 and the top price for this category was $3300.
A breed of cattle indigenous to eastern Africa, Borans have risen in popularity among cattlemen in
Zimbabwe because of their hardiness, early maturation and disease resistance. They are also not selective grazers and are adaptable to tough veld grazing conditions. They also cross breed well and introduce a hybrid vigour into a commercial herd. Members of the newly resurrected Boran Breeders Society are passionate about promoting the breed.
A small group of Boran breeders knew what the Boran had to offer to the commercial and small scale beef breeder. “We had all experienced the “x-factor” – hybrid vigour the Boran pass on when crossed with other breeds.
“We believed this breed could help alleviate poverty throughout Zimbabwe by improving cattle
production and quality of the rural cattle.
“We realised we had to make the Boran available to all beef producers throughout Zimbabwe, so we revived the society,” Mark Hook, the society’s chairman, says.
Hook had been breeding Beefmaster since 1993. During the land reform program, all the farm’s fencing disappeared. He had to herd his Beefmaster during the day and kraal them at night. The herd did not cope well with this and their conception rates fell. Mark says he read up about Borans and felt they would fare better than any other breed in the current beef breeding environment of no fencing. He started breeding Borans in 2007. “ Borans have been herded and kraaled by man for 8000 years. This has resulted in them having a large gut capacity to fill in daylight hours and digest while kraaled.
“They also herd very well and never split up into small groups. This is a huge plus with having to graze near neighbours’ crops. Boran have been classified as a pure breed for 1300 years. They are hardy, adaptable and highly disease resistant,” Hook says.
Amon Jack, known as AJ, had three bulls on sale at the Boran sale and a further one had been selected for sale at the National Sale. AJ and his brother, Devine Jack, are first generation beef farmers. He, along with his brother, inherited eight Mashona cattle from an uncle nine years ago. They had no cattle handling or rearing experience and AJ freely admits that they learnt as they went along. Three years after this “accidental” start, AJ decided to start breeding pedigree cattle and chose Boran. They wanted to provide the country with new Boran genetics and assist in rebuilding the national herd.
To this end, they imported his foundation herd of 22 cows from South Africa and started building his stud herd from them. His pedigree stud’s name is “Bhengu” named after the family totem, meaning porcupine. Situated in Wedza, the Bhengu Special Pedigree is now 213 strong and growing. Bulls bred in the pedigree herd are used in their commercial herd to test their progeny. This venture is going from strength to strength. When asked why did he choose Borans, AJ says their fertility was a huge factor.