The indigenous cattle of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania: Distinct phenotypic features, performance and uses
Livestock Research for Rural Development
Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, P.O. Box 9152, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Uyole Livestock research Centre, P.O. Box 400 Mbeya, Tanzania; National Livestock research Institute, P.O. Box 202 Mpwapwa, Tanzania
This study was carried out in the Southern Highlands zone of Tanzania which is in the southwestern part of the country. The study considered two cattle strains which have been raised by the indigenous people for many years. The study areas have a similar farming system in which cattle play a very important role. The strains of cattle studied were Ufipa and Iringa Red. The main objective of this study was to characterize the phenotypic features, the production system, the traits of cattle that are of special interest to the community that keep them and the risky status of the cattle strains. For the Ufipa cattle the study was conducted in February 2007 and covered Sumbawanga rural, Sumbawanga urban and Nkasi districts of Rukwa region. Results showed that the Ufipa cattle are in reasonable number and have got uniform features of body size and conformation, horn size, orientation and spacing. The cattle have both Zebu and Sanga features though the Zebu features dominate. Their coat colour varies and may range from black, brown, and red, to grey. The horns are long with majority of animals showing forward orientation. The results also showed that Ufipa cattle are mainly kept for draft power such that about 35 % of the cattle herd composition is made of castrates. The number of the Ufipa cattle is fairly large and its risky status fall under need to monitor and what puts it at risk is nonselective castration leading to poor breeding bulls. The Iringa Red cattle are found in Iringa region in the South Western part of Tanzania. The study for Iringa Red cattle strain was conducted in two phases, in 2005 it covered Iringa rural and Kilolo districts and in 2007 it covered Mufindi district. The distinguishing features of the Iringa Red cattle are the red coat colour, darkish red and few are brown with white pied or spotted. The colour of the muzzle is brown and none pigmented. The hump is thoracic medium to large and mostly hanging in males. The cattle are of medium body size when compared to other strains of the Tanzania Shorthorn Zebu. In Mufindi district, about 70% of the cattle in the herds belong to the Iringa Red strain. The farmer' main preferences on the Iringa Red cattle are tolerance to disease and better draft power. Unlike the Ufipa cattle there is some selection on bulls to be used for breeding. The major risk factor facing this strain of cattle is introduction of other cattle stains from pastoralists who are moving into the traditional lands of the Iringa red cattle.
Animalia; Bos; Bos indicus; Sanga