Breed Evaluation


A report of Carcass quality by P. E. Strydom conducted at the Irene Animal Production Institute in 1975 indicates that Bonsmara had lower kidney and channel fat than three other breeds tested when slaughtered at equal amounts of subcutaneous fat. This is in contrast to work in the US that has shown that another Sanga breed (Tuli) has larger amounts of kidney, heart and pelvic (KPH) fat than non-Sanga beef breeds. This low level of internal fat is desired in that it must be trimmed from the carcass and, therefore, reduces the worth of the carcass. Also, this fat has been implicated as a factor that increases maintenance requirements and thus reduces feed efficiency of animals. Dairy animals store large amounts of KPH because it is easily retrieved for milk synthesis, but this fat may contribute to the 5-10% reduction in feed efficiency reported for full-fed Holsteins, Jerseys and Tuli cattle.


Strydom also reported that a component breed of the Bonsmara (the Africaner) had more tender meat than the Brahman and that the Bonsmara had much more tender meat than the Brahman and Simmentaller (82.5 lbs. require to shear the meat as compared to 113.0 and 111.0 lbs. for the Brahman and Simmentaller). The Bonsmara cattle were not quite as tender as Charolais or Hereford, but the Hereford-Bonsmara and Charolais-Bonsmara crosses were as tender as any tested (requiring 76.1 and 73,8 lbs. to shear the meat as compared to 79.7 and 71.6 lbs. for the Charolais and Hereford, respectively).


Schoeman reported the results of the 1980 to 1993 South African National Beef Cattle Performance and Progeny Test in the 1996 South African Tydskr Veek. He reported that the Bonsmara had a 206 kg weaning weight as compared to 178 kg for Africaner, 205 kg for Brahman, 195 kg for Hereford, 225 kg for Limousin, 161 kg for Nguni, 206 kg for Angus, 222 kg for Santa Gertrudis and 236 kg for Simmentaller. Final weight off the feeding test was 483 kg for Bonsmara, 396 kg for Africaner, 431 kg for Brahman, 481 kg for Hereford, 481 kg for Limousin, 344 kg for Nguni, 482 kg for Angus, 506 kg for Santa Gertrudis, and 553 kg for Simmentaller.


It appears that the Bonsmara may have similar growth and meat tenderness patterns as the medium framed English breeds when well-fed. If they can combine these traits with their promised ability to adapt to hot, nutritionally deprived environments, then they will have a place in the Americas. Some evidence for this hardiness has recently been reported in South Africa. Scholtz and Lombard (1984, 2nd. World Congress of Sheep and Beef Cattle Breeding) have reported that Bonsmara have higher blood urea and ammonia levels indicating that they are capable of a higher quality diet under harsh conditions or that they recycle nitrogen more efficiently, thereby conserving it.