BEITBRIDGE indigenous livestock farmers are keen to re-establish the dominance of the Tuli breed of cattle, which originated from the western tip of their district.
By Own Correspondent
Tuli is the name of a beef cattle breed that is a form of Sanga cattle and closely related to the Tswana breed from Botswana.
They are described as having a small thoraco-cervical hump and are uni-coloured: yellow, golden-brown or red.
The Tuli are huge in stature and do well in semi-arid conditions, but, of late, have been overshadowed by imported cattle breeds like the Brahman, Hereford and Friesland brought by settlers.
When the first white settlers arrived in the country with their huge beasts, they were shocked to find the Tuli easily more superior than their closely guarded breeds for which they quarantined the present day Tuli circle.
They were left with egg on their faces and left with no choice but to adopt the Tuli.
They have since exported the Tuli to other parts of the world like Argentina, Mexico and the United State, while South Africa has cross-bred Tuli and Limousin cattle to produce what they now call Tulim cattle.
In their notes seen by the NewsDay, the livestock farmers, mostly beneficiaries of land reform, want to revisit the Tuli breed and are looking for seed.
“It used to be the most popular breed in our region. Let’s try to bring it back fellow farmers,” one farmer, identified as Andrew Ndlovu, wrote.
Another farmer, Gift Mbedzi, from the Msane area, said he preferred the Tuli cows for crossing with Brahman bulls.
The farmers agreed that pedigree Tuli cattle were superior and there was need for an establishment of a research centre in their area for their plan to reach fruition.
In documented history of the Tuli breed, the Rhodesian whites credit themselves as having “found” the Tuli.
“The Tuli breed was founded by the Rhodesian government at a government station situated on the Banks of the Tuli River. The purpose was to establish an indigenous breed suited to the prevailing hot dry conditions,” they wrote in their history.
The person charged with the task of establishing this was Len Harvey, a member of the Department of Conservation and Extension under the auspices of the Agriculture ministry.
Another farmer, Morgan Ndou, has identified a ranch near West Nicholson as having Tuli bulls sold at about $2 500 each.
The farmers feel the breed will withstand harsh climatic conditions synonymous with Beitbridge.
The farmers, who are yet to benefit from command livestock, a government programme meant to rejuvenate the country’s beef industry, feel government’s contribution towards promotion of indefensible breeds would have advantages.
“A long-term plan to have research centres in every district will eventually pay back,” another farmer said.
Without support, Beitbridge farmers have pioneered the transformation of goat breeds they have mixed with SAS Boer goats that are bigger in size.
Although publicity favours areas around Harare, the farmers have quietly developed goats far bigger in size, which they have been selling to farmers deeper inland of the country.
Beitbridge, with its arid conditions and salty conditions, presents a perfect breeding site for livestock and wild animals abundant on the area.