Zébu de Madagascar
The zebu is one of the symbols of Madagascar. It belongs to the same family as European cattle, but has its origins in tropical Asia, which is why it is much better adapted to tropical temperatures. It is a medium-sized cow with small head and ears, short and smooth fur and can have different colors: black, red, brown and gray.
The animals live and feed on pastureS. During the rainy season (between December and May) the herds pasture on the grasslands far away from rivers, on plateaus, and during the dry season (between June and December) they are brought back down to the valleys and stay on the river shores, where the humidity ensures a longer season of vegetation.
Close to important urban centers, where there is a big market for milk, the cows are milked once a day after feeding the calfs. In other places, the possibilities of commercializing the milk and its derivatives are much smaller, so cows are not milked at all. Their milk production is low, around 2-3 liters per day.
Madagascan zebus are mostly bred for meat production. The first calf is usually born after 3 or 4 years and in extensive breeding systems the interval between births is usually two years.
The Madagascan Zebu is well suited for pasture rearing, which IS the most common method used on the island, apart from some provinces in which cattle is stable-fattened. The animals are slaughtered at between 6 and 12 years of age, when they weigh about 350 kg.
They are widely used for the preparation of rice paddies, aeration of fields and to pull carts and goods.
This animal is important in Madagascan rites, especially as a sacrifice in family events and ceremonies, and its meat is not only shared to fill stomachs, but also to honor “fihavanana” a value system on which the Madagascan system is based. The zebu represents an important part of Madagascan heritage, especially in the region of Ihorombe