Afrikaner Cattle

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Afrikaner cattle are very different looking to European breeds. The breed has creamy white horns, long legs, muscular thighs, rump, back and loins as well as a hump that sits behind the neck. Coat color varies from a light tan to a deep, dark cherry red. The Afrikaner is a low maintenance breed that is heat tolerant and very adept at withstanding harsh conditions which in large areas of the northern parts of South Africa. They are also more tick resistant than most other breeds. They have a good temperament, are intelligent and therefore are easy to farm with. The most important aspect of this breed is the high quality meat they produce, which has won acclaim in taste tests and been documented by scientific research conducted by the local Agricultural Research Council.   The exact history of the breed is uncertain. It is believed that the Bos indicus species of Asia bred with lateral-horned zebu cattle, which eventually made their way into South Africa, where the breed was observed in the 15th century. They were once associated with the Hottentot community of South Africa, and were later used by Dutch settlers in the area. In the 1900s, an outbreak of the rinderpest disease saw their numbers severely reduced. In addition, cattle numbers in South Africa dropped during the First World War, and were replaced by European breeds. These events inspired the creation of a formal register to keep track of the Afrikaner cattle. In 1964 (the earliest data still in existence) there were 759 registered farmers of Afrikaner cattle in the country.   Today these cattle are reared by a few farmers thinly spread over South Africa – such as Vryburg in the North West Province, Olifantshoek in the Northern Cape, Malmesbury in the Western Cape, and Bloemfontein in the Free State and Thabazimbi in the Limpopo Province. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 head of cattle for both breeding and meat production. Afrikaner beef makes up a very small percentage of the total beef market in South Africa, and over the past 50 years there has been a decline in farming of this breed.   As industrialized farming has taken hold of the commercial farming system of cattle in South Africa, the Afrikaner has become highly discriminated against. Most farmers now work with industrially commercialized breeds, which produce lean meat in a short period of time and can be sold to feedlots for the meat production industry. Nationwide, meat is graded (and priced) against this feedlot-produced beef as a standard, and so farmers of Afrikaner cattle receive less money per kilogram for their animals, who are slower growing and have a higher percentage of fat when slaughtered at a similar age. Further more, because they are raised on open pastures, their meat is darker red and fat yellower than industry “standard” beef. The result is that there are significantly fewer farmers engaged in exclusive single breed farming of Afrikaner cattle

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