Santas, Excellent Milk Producers With Wonderful Mothering Ability

Namibian farmers have various livestock species and within these species there is a wide range of well-adapted breeds and eco-types. Some of these breeds and eco-types are of economic importance, but relatively unknown. It is in this connection that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry found it necessary to summarise information about livestock breeds in the form of the Namibia Livestock Catalogue, that was launched recently. Farmers’ Forum has started a regular column to serve as a guideline in livestock production. Today, Deon Schlechter looks at the Santa Gertrudis, a breed with which Namibian breeders are regarded as forerunners and is well-adapted to Africa’s extreme conditions.

The Santa Gertrudis cattle breed was developed on King Ranch in Texas during the time period 1925 to 1932. The breed has a long heritage and was created as follows: From 1910 to 1918 the crossing of Zebu bulls and Shorthorn cows proved to be successful. From 1918 to 1928 an extensive, vigorous breeding programme was implemented, in which Zebu bulls were randomly crossed with about 5 000 purely bred Shorthorn cows. The first generation progeny of this cross was then again interbred separately. In 1920 a bull named “Monkey” was born to a cow that was an extraordinary good miler. The bull was also an exceptional performer and was used to father a whole line of offspring. Monkey was therefore, the founding sire of the Santa Gtrudis breed, and in 1940 the breed was officially recognised as the first breed developed in the United States of America (USA).

The characteristic coat colour of the breed is dark red. The coat is smooth and the eyes well-hooded for extra protection. Santa Gertrudis cattle have a medium frame with bulls weighing about 900 kg and the cows 530 kg. They are highly adaptable to changing environmental conditions, making them very desirable for southern Africa. They are excellent walkers and great foragers. Cows have a long productive life, producing and raising calves up to the age of 15 years. Santa Gertrudis cows have very few calving problems and the calves are usually small in size.

This breed are excellent milk producers and have a wonderful mothering ability. This breed gains weight excessively well. They do well under both veld andor feedlot conditions and the breed is well-marbled and of an excellent quality. Bulls produce heavy weaners under extreme conditions.

Source : New Era