Kenya is the Home of the Pure-Boran Breed


Current published text states that origins of all domesticated cattle can be traced back to two main centres, Asian (Bos indicus) and the Near East-European (Bos taurus).

Due to recent improved technology in the methods of genetic identification and new archaeological findings, there is now believed to be a third origin, which was a native African taurine, centred in the Saharan Belt of Africa (Bos taurus),.

“Genetics studies at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have shown that the genetic composition of the Kenyan Boran is unique. If the genetic background of the Kenyan Boran is predominantly zebu, the breed also contains taurine background of two separate origins. A European-Near East taurine background of some antiquity and most likely also from recent crossbreeding and an African indigenous taurine background which is not found in any Asian zebu crosses such as Sahiwal or Brahman” (O.Hanotte. See also M.Okomo et al. 1998, J.E.O Rege et al. 2001).

As revealed by O.Hanotte at ILRI, they have shown that the Boran genome contains three distinct genetic influences. Other than the Zebu influence (Bos indicus), there are influences from both the Near East-European Bos Taurus as well as a distinct influence from native African Bos taurus. The predominant influence was however from the Zebu.

“The Zebus of the second wave have thoracic humps and started to come into north-east Africa in the 4th century AD, but the major importations date only from the time of the Arab invasions which started in 669 AD.”

“The Zebu were becoming common in Kenya in the 15th century.” Ian Mason, (Factors Influencing the World Distribution of Beef Cattle. F.A.O.1974).

From this ‘genetic package’, came the Borana cattle in Ethiopia, which became the dominant breed type of the region, known as the East African Shorthorned Zebu. They are typically the cattle kept by the Borana in Southern Ethiopia and the Somali and Orma tribes of Kenya. From these types came the Boran as adopted by commercial cattlemen in Kenya who developed the breed we see today.

The Boran now found in Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Australia and USA originated from genetic exports of Kenyan Boran cattle between the 1970’s and 1990’s. The breed in Zimbabwe and South Africa came from embryos exported from the excellent facility on Ol Pejeta Ranch at Nanyuki, Kenya, during 1994 and 2000.


Genus : Bos
Species : Indicus
Breed : Boran

  • Short, broad between the eyes
  • Prominent eyebrows, drooping eyelids, good eye banks
  • Muzzle broad, light colour is undesirable
  • Ears, small to medium, not drooping
  • Eyes, pink pigmentation around eyes undesirable

  • Neck, short and deep. Strong and muscular in bulls, evenly attached to head and shoulders
  • Dewlap, strong and heavy, running into a deep full brisket
  • Shoulders, deep, strong and well covered
  • Hump, rounded and set in line with forelegs, blending into withers

  • Long
  • Broad, strong and straight
  • Well covered and well muscled loins
Middle Piece

  • Good deep chest
  • Well filled out behind shoulders and elbow, well sprung, deep and full ribs with good heart room, but without tendency to either flatness or roundness
  • Flank, well let down
  • Sheath not pendulous, and showing good control of sphincter muscle
  • Testicles even and well developed
  • Udder well formed, not too small

  • Hips, wide and well covered. Not too prominent
  • Rump, long and broad with tail set only slightly lower than back line
  • Pin bones wide apart and well covered
  • Tail head broad, set slightly higher than pin bones and tapering to the hocks
  • Thigh, broad and full, running well down to the twist or second thigh
  • Twist, full and thick. The greatest width should be at the stifle
Legs and Feet

  • Hocks, strong and set fairly well apart. Not straight, sickle or cow hocked
  • Legs, medium length with good strong but NOT COARSE bone
  • Feet, sound, set straight forward and with a free action
  • Light coloured hooves undesirable
Hide Hair and Colour

  • Hide, loose and pliable but without excessive folding, preferably with dark pigmentation
  • Hair, short and fine
  • Colour, unbroken preferred. BRINDLE AND BLACK NOT ALLOWED
  • The whole animal to have an appearance of quality
Size and Weight

  • Well developed according to age. Weight for age combined with good fleshing, with consideration to the local conditions under which the animal has been reared. The large sex dimorphism, i.e. small female and large steer or bull, is a particular characteristic of the breed

  • Quiet and even

Boran cattle are bred for tough conditions and prized for their various strengths and advantages


  • Height of typical mature bull: 117-147 cm at withers
  • Height of typical mature cow: 114-127 cm at withers
  • Typical carcass weight off grass: 230-260 kg dressed weight with 52% dressing percentage
  • Weight of typical mature bull: 500 kg to 850 kg
  • Weight of typical mature cow: 380 kg to 450 kg
  • Steers reared on grass: ready for slaughter between 3 to 3.5 yrs (36 -42 months) 420-460 kg
  • Steers, supplementary fed: ready for slaughter between 18 to 22months @ 380 to 400 kg
  • On average cows calve once a year: potentially 11 months (higher than other indicus breeds)
  • Average weight gains per day on grass and feedlot: Grass = 0.7 kg – 1.0 kg per day depending on grass quality. Feedlot = 1.3 kg per day depending on type of cross used (this was found at a recent trial at Marania Farm – Timau where using Boran cross Angus steers and heifers)

Milk Production from Boran / Friesian F1:

  • 1st Lactation : Av = 9.3 kgs per day, High= 13.8 kg per day
  • 2nd Lactation : Av = 10.4 kgs per day, High= 15.6 kg per day
  • 3rd Lactation : Av = 13.4 kgs per day, High= 19.5 kg per day