Nguni cattle are a sub-type of the African Sanga cattle associated with the pastrolist cattle culture of the Negro/Bantu people of Africa. Protein analyses indicate that they have characteristics of both Bos Taurus and Bos Indicus cattle.
Physiologically they have characteristics that place them apart from both types. What is certain is that they have been shaped by natural selection in the African environment for thousands of years.
The ancestors of the present day Nguni of South Africa were brought into the country by the southward migration of the Khoi people from the central lakes area of Africa. These cattle are still found wherever the decendants of the original groups of the Nguni tribe settled, namely Swaziland, Zululand and Mozambique.
The Nguni was originally, and indeed still is, a draft animal. Under sound management conditions it is becoming increasingly popular as a beef breed.
The areas where Nguni cattle occur are climatically the most harsh and disease-ridden tracts of Africa. These areas are prone to droughts and other realities that mother nature can throw at us from time to time.
Figure 2. Image provided by Nguni Breeders' Society South Africa.
Nguni cattle have the following qualities, characteristics and traits:
- They are not large cattle with bulls weighing 500-700kg (~1100-1550 lbs.) and cows
weighing 320-440kg (~700-975 lbs.). Calves wean at approximately 175kg (~385 lbs.)
and grow at 0.70 kg (~1.55 lbs) per day until weaning.
- The bulls have well developed, rounded cervio-thoracic humps which are muscular rather
than fatty. The cows have small almost non existant humps.
- The cattle are heat and light tolerant and have thick pigmented skins covered with
fine short hair of different mixtures of colour (Black, white, red, brown, cream and
- They have long productive lives, cows will produce 10 or more calves calving regularly.
The cows show great efficiency and often wean calves that weigh 45-50% of their body
- Nguni cattle are less prone to dystocia, this being ascribed to their sloping rumps,
small uterus and low birth mass.
- They develop excellent resistance to ticks and immunity to tick borne diseases. Disease
incidence and mortality are low.
- They are excellent foragers and will graze and browse on steep slopes and in thick
- Finished carcasses dress out at roughly 180-220 kg (~400-500 lbs). Marbling is good
with a thin covering of fat.
- Nguni fatten well on natural grazing as well as in the feedlot.
- The historical development of the Nguni has resulted in a breed with good temperament
and mothering ability.
Apart from the area where the Nguni occur naturally there are some 140 registered breeders owning 1,400 registered cattle.
Information and provided by Select Genes Ltd., PO Box 494, Irene 1675, Republic of South Africa.