Humbe cattle are a breed native to Angola, found in the immense high plains of Chela. They belong to a category of cattle called Sanga (in turn forming part of the Bos taurus africanus group), of which, one of the sub-categories, Ovambo, includes the Humbe breed. The breed gets its name from the Humbe community, who historically raised the cattle. These cattle are of average stature, with short limbs and large muscles. Their bodies are wide with a light skeleton. Short horns form the shape of a lyre. Their coats are not uniform, some are black, dark brown or chestnut brown, and others a mixture of various colors. Their noses are pigmented with black. The weight of a bull reaches about 400 kg from 6 – 8 years of age, while cows have a weight between 260 and 300 kg. Humbe cattle are characterized by a back hump that is apparently muscular. This is due to crossbreeding that occurred over time between cattle with and without humps, mixing of genes due to the many tribal migrations. Studies have identified Ethiopia and western Africa as the major centers of origin of the oldest cattle of the Sanga strain. The Humbe breed in particular is mainly localized in the south and southeast of the province of Huila in southwestern Agnola, to the north and northwest of the Cunene River. The climactic conditions found in this region are those typical of a dry steppe. In Angola, keeping cattle as livestock at the family farm level fills may needs: animal-powered labor, a source of milk, meat and butter, and providing social prestige in rural areas. However, many of the local breeds, like Humbe, show influences of being crossed with other, imported breeds. The Humbe breed has not been promoted nationally, and so expanded breeding and education is need to stimulate the tradition of raising theses animals, emphasizing their adaptability to environmental conditions in the areas in which they developed.
Image: Matteo Tonini