Mucubal Cattle

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Mucubal Cattle

Tenge, Mpunda, Nziloi, Gwenje

The Mucubal cattle breed, known locally by many different names, is a breed native to Angola and along the margins of the rivers that cross the desert area in the province of Namibe, in the southeastern part of the country. These cattle have long, large legs with large hooves. They have a long neck and curved back, and males have a large hump. The coat color varies, but generally is a light piebald red. More rarely found are individuals with a black piebald coloring. They have a heavy skeleton, long tail, and very large, angular, sloping head with extremely developed horns. Their weight reaches over 500 kg in adult males, while females reach over 300 kg.   Mucubal cattle belong to the sub-group of Ovambo cattle, which includes the Humbe, Damara and Herero breeds. The native Mucubal belongs to the Herero breed group. It is believed that the Damara and Herero breeds have a common ancestry, located along the border with the Republic of Namibia. There, the nomadic tribes migrated with their livestock southeast towards Angola. The traditional Mucubal cattle (that gets its name from the population that raises it) is particularly adapted to an arid or semi-arid climate thanks to adaptations that allow it to make long journeys without food or water. The indigenous Mucubal tribe practices a type of nomadic ranching, following an ancient tradition. Each year, various groups of the tribe follow the migratory routes, taking advantage of the rainy season for as long as possible, covering long distances.   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 Mucubal, show influences of being crossed with other, imported breeds. The Mucubal 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

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Breeds and animal husbandry

Indigenous community:Mucubal