Mother and Calf
The BCBS considers fertility to be a most important selection criterion. For hundreds of years it has been so for the Borana people of northern Kenya and Ethiopia. This selection process under harsh conditions over many generations is one reason for such fertility in the Boran as compared to other Bos indicus breeds. Moreover, low body-weight loss over the suckling period leads to short calving intervals .Another reason why Borans breed regularly is that calving difficulties are uncommon. The pelvic position is such that it promotes easy delivery. Even with calves sired by large-breeds, problems are negligible – a positive feature for trouble-free management
“The Boran should be the mother cow of the beef industry” – Quote by international judge
At birth, male Boran calves weigh an average of 28 kg and females, 25 kg. The generally lighter calves make for ease of calving. This is an advantage under ranch conditions. Calves are active and alert soon after birth; leading to high survival rates.
Variable environmental conditions and other factors lead to a wide range in weaning weights, however the leading Boran herds report the following averages at eight and half months of age: – Bull calves – 250 kg Heifer calves – 210 kg Steer calves – 220 kg Crossbred calves – 275 kg
Post Weaning Weights
Studies from Kenya in 1974 show that a 600-day weight is a more precise selection criterion than weaning weight as an indication of ability to grow in the grazing environment. Genetic differences for growth potential are more reliably expressed at this age – the animal having made it on its own after weaning. On good grazing, the Boran steer will reach 450 – 500 kg at three years and a two-year-old bulling heifer should weigh about 320 kg. 1028 improved Boran steers gained an average of 1.044 kgs live weight per day on a 50:50 roughage/concentrate ration. (H.Squires, Production Economist, FAO/UNDP Kenya Beef Project, Lanet. 1969 –1973)
The Boran cow is instinctively a good mother. Her strong maternal qualities ensure high calf survival rates and high weaner / dam weight ratios. The Boran cow has ample milk to produce heavy weaners, both purebred and crossbred. Milk intake studies have shown that a calf’s intake is not so much limited by the milk yield of the mother, but by its appetite. Vigorous crossbred calves, as expected, have large appetites and wean at weights up to 25% greater than pure Boran calves.