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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Nguni cattle

Nguni cattle arrived in Southern Africa about nine hundred, or more, years ago with the arrival of the Nguni people, Swazi, Zulu and Xhosa. A truly indigenous breed. The cattle below are not pure bred, but there is something in their colouring, horns and shape of the head that is very distinctive of them.

Nguni bull in the foreground.

During the days of the old Zulu kings, Shaka, Dingane and Cetswayo, nguni cattle were selectively bred for the colour and patterns on their hides. Each Zulu regiment had it's own distinctively coloured shield, six foot high and about three feet wide at it's widest. The shield would cover the whole body of the warrior.

The shield was used more as an offensive weapon than a means of protection. A Zulu warrior was trained to use the left edge of his shield to pull away the left edge of the enemies shield, leaving the left armpit open for a killing thrust into the heart.

Nguni cow, this time brindle in colouring. In the days of the old Zulu Kings, all white cattle were the property of the King, who had huge herds of pure white cattle. *Africans don't need brands to identify their cattle, they can tell at a glance, which is theirs among hundreds of others They know their animals the way we know our pets.

Commercial farmers are beginning to value the unique qualities of Nguni cattle. They are hardy, very resistant to tick borne diseases, and survive in conditions where fancier breeds don't stand a chance.

In both pictures you can see Sissie, she is actually very scared of cattle but believes she must face her fears by attacking them, not that she makes much impression on them. Nguni cattle are used to dogs and people and except for an irritable stamp of a hoof, mostly just ignored her.

*The law today, though, says that every cattle owner must brand his animals with a registered brand, this is to combat theft.


e.m.b. said...

Very interesting about the Nguni! And I think I'd get along with Sissie very well! "she believes she must face her fears by attacking them." The only way! She has a good spirit.

Kay L. Davies said...

Sissie is wonderful, but I hope she doesn't get hurt. That bull looked a little scary.
It's too bad about the branding law, but I can understand why it might be necessary.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Shoreman said...

Sounds like the "old" days had a good honor system (steal my cattle, feel my spear). Not so now days and that is enforced by the need to brand them. Bet cattle rustlers don't get "strung" up like they did in the old west.


Pumice said...

Interesting and informative.

Grace and Peace.