Boran Cattle Facts, Profile, and Characteristics

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Introduction to Boran Cattle Breed:

Today, let us discuss Boran Cattle Facts, Features, and Profile.

The Boran cattle breed originated in the northern region of Kenya, on the Somali border. Kenyan ranchers recognized them as the best indigenous beef animal in East Africa and through careful selection, improved the breed to the very much efficient animals they are today. Boran cattle are a beef cattle breed raised mainly for meat production. It is a Zebu breed cattle which were developed from the native short horned Zebu cattle of the Borana people of the southern Ethiopia. In most cases, the breed is usually fawn or white in coloration with the bulls being darker with black points. These are having great similarities to the American Brahman cattle and they are also descended from the cattle from the western coast of India.

The Boran cattle breed have developed adaptive traits of crucial importance for their survival. Some of these characters are the capability to withstand periodic shortage of water and feed, ability to walk long distances in search of water and feed and ability to digest low quality feeds. The herd instinct of the Boran cattle makes it easy to manage and survive in bush country.

History of Boran Cattle:

The Boran cattle developed in eastern Africa, more specifically the Borana plateau in southern Ethiopia. As far as can be determined this is the breed in Africa to have this specific combination of genes. The Boran breed is not synthetic or compound breeds that have been crossbred in the last few decades. It has been bred as a pure breed for 1300 yrs. The importance of this to the commercial breeder is that the Boran cattle will have much stronger hybrid vigor than modern compound breeds.

The Boran cattle developed into the dominant breed in eastern Africa and especially in Kenya, where the Kenyan Boran Cattle Breeders’ Society (BCBS) have bred the “Improved Boran” since the turn of the century. As far as can be determined this is the only breed in Africa to have this particular combination of genes.

The Boran is a breed of cattle that had its last infusion of ‘new’ genes in 700 AD. The Boran breed is therefore not synthetic or compound breeds that have been crossbred in the last few decades. The importance of this to the commercial breeder is that the Boran breed will have much stronger hybrid vigor than modern compound breeds. Today Boran cattle breeders have greatly improved the beef conformation of their animals, but they have never lost sight of the important qualities of the indigenous Boran.

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Typical breed Characteristics of Boran Cattle:

The Boran breed is a medium-sized beef animal. They can be gray color, red or fawn in color. They are recognized for their high fertility, excellent mothering ability, excellent temperament and great survivability under harsh conditions. Their early maturity and meat quality will ensure their value in crossbreeding projects aimed at improving the productivity of Australian beef herds. The Boran is medium in size with a small head, small ears, loose dewlap and a large hump above the shoulders. They can be horned. They vary in height from 114 to 147 cm tall, and in weight bulls weigh approximately 500 kg to 850 kg. Cows weigh about 380 kg to 450 kg. There are different types of these animals. The Orma Boran breed is the smallest of the Boran cattle breeds, and smaller than the Kenyan Boran. The weight of the mature Orma Boran bulls ranges from 250 kg to 395 kg. On the other hand average live body weight of the mature cows varies from 225 kg to 355 kg. The Kenyan Boran cattle breed was developed from the Orma Boran, Borana and Somali Boran. Due to the size and well-developed hindquarters of the Kenyan Boran, it is differentiated from other type Boran. The Kenyan Boran is little larger than the Orma Boran. And on an average, live body weight of the mature Kenyan Boran bull ranges from 550 to 850. While live body weights of the mature cows vary from 400 kg to 550 kg. Usually the coat color of the Kenyan Boran cattle is white color with spots, but brown and red coat colors have also been found. Both bulls and cows usually have horns, and their horns are relatively very smaller in size.

Boran Cattle Breed Profile:

Breed Name: Boran.

Breed Purpose: Mainly for Meat.

Special Notes: Strong, very hardy, well adapted to native climates, good for meat, excellent meat quality, grow relatively faster.

Breed Size: Small to medium.

Weight:  Bulls   250-395 kg.

Cows  225-355 kg.

Climate Tolerance:  Native climates.

Coat Color: Black, fawn, red, white.

Milk Yield: Poor.

Country/Place of Origin: Eastern Africa.


Boran is a beef cattle breed. They are used mainly for meat production.

Breed status:

According to a report by Rege (1999), the estimated population of the Ethiopian Boran breed was 1,896,000; the Improved Boran in Kenya was estimated at 580,570, the Unimproved Boran in Kenya was about 1,882,000 and Orma Boran cattle was at 547,000. There was a massive death of cattle breed in the Borana region of Ethiopia due to severe drought as the main cause of the declining Ethiopian Boran population. The Boran breed has been already popular in Australia and North America, where breed societies for it already exists; hence further protecting it from endangerment.

Read: Cattle Feed Information.

Characteristics of Boran Cattle:

The Boran male and female share breed points, the sexes, however, show marked dimorphism – the female being notably small, whilst the male grows to a big size. The cow has a well-carried udder with strong attachments and neat, small teats, in contrast to some Asian Zebu breed cattle. Boran heifers get to puberty at an average age of 385 days. She is a superb mother, not only will she feed her calf so well that high weaning weights are attainable, but she guards against predators, and will never allow her calf to get lost in the bush. Calving problems barely exist. Calves at birth weight an average of 28 kg for males and for females 25 kg. The developed beef conformation shows up in car case appraisals. The depth of the eye muscle, marbling, even fat cover and ratio of hind to forequarter make the Boran cattle difficult to beat, hence the preference of Kenya butchers for young, well-finished Boran steers.


  • It is quite regular for a 15 year old cow to be sound mouthed healthy and fertile.
  • It is also on record that a 16 year old Boran breed bull is still producing high quality semen for artificial insemination.


  • It is acknowledged that the greatest attribute of the Boran breed is its fertility.
  • Even under harsh conditions the Boran breed cow will continue to breed and rear calves and do this without punishing herself.
  • One explanation for this more fertility is that the cow has relatively low body weight loss over the suckling period, thereby maintaining a good condition, thus able to conceive again.

Disease Resistance:

  • A loose but very motile skin with a short covering of hair and a high secretion of an oily substance makes the Boran a less desirable host for ticks and flies.
  • Thick eye banks with long eyelashes and a long tail with a big well-formed twitch all protect this indigenous breed against insects.


  • Boran cattle are recognized as being generally, quiet, docile and very easy to handle. This trait has developed over many generations of cattle breed living close to man.

The Boran breed is the mothering cow of Africa. Boran cows have good udders with well-formed teats.

  • They produce enough milk to wean calves that weigh more than 50 percent of dam’s weight at weaning.
  • Their good mothering nature provides a deterrent against predators.
  • Boran cattle have an excellent survival rate of calves.
  • Cows produce small calves at birth, male calves average 28kg and female calves 25kg. Calving troubles hardly exist.

Distribution of Boran Cattle:

Today the Boran is now found in Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia and the United States of America.

Cost of Boran cattle:

The cost of Boran cow depends on milk production, age, lactation status and pregnancy status and the Boran bull costs from Rs.20, 000 –Rs.30, 000 depending on its age and lactation status.

Advantages of Boran Cattle:

  • High fertility
  • Excellent mothering ability
  • Excellent temperament
  • Great survivability under harsh conditions

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