Background to boran studs in Kenya

MogwooniJackie and Mandy Kenyon

Herd Designation: K6K

Size: Mogwooni Ltd is 16,054 acres with a carrying capacity of 1 LAU to 11 acres.

Average annual rainfall: +/- 21″ (500-550mm).

Number of animals: Mogwooni run about 250 stud cows which are culled yearly purely on performance.

Breeding policy: The main priority has been fertility, beef production and temperament. We run a single sire operation breeding all the year round which gives us a birth rate over the last 10 years of 95%+. We then cull our cows at the age of 10 years irrespective of past performance as our younger stock should be better because of our breeding and selection.

Selection Criteria: Due to the harsh conditions we try and breed a smaller animal with very good conformation for fertility and beef production.

We try and burn between 10% and 20% of the farm every year but this is sometimes hampered by drought. We do not boma our cattle at night to allow them night grazing.

The farm was purchased by Mr & Mrs J.D. Kenyon on 1st June 1963 (Independence Day) and we have had continuous management ever since. Since 1964, all our birth records, weaning weights, 14-18 month bull weights, sale weights, deaths and culling records have been kept by the Livestock Recording Centre.

Grazing policy: The farm is split up onto 33 paddocks, with every paddock having water. We also run about 1,000 Dorpers and 600 Gala goats from Somalia.

Average weaning weights: The average weaning weights for heifer calves at 8 months is 180kgs and 210kgs for bull calves.  The weaning percentage is between 45% and 55%.

Suiyan Ranch (formerly Pinguone Ranch/Kisima) – Gilfrid Powys

Herd Designation: V7Y and ZIP

Size: 44,000 acres

Average annual rainfall: 440 ml (last 20 years)

Rainfall is very erratic and the area is very prone to severe drought, it is probably one of the harshest areas to be commercially ranched in Kenya.

Number of animals: On average the ranch carries 2,700 head and a breeding herd of 600 Boran. These are being increased as the farm moves out of sheep.

Breeding policy: Bulls are run with the herds of cows throughout the year. Primarily we try to stick to certain lines of cattle, splitting our stud into 3 herds, each having bulls from one of the three original Boran studs on the farm (Mutara, Mogwooni and Solio). As we progress we are now crossing between these as we select for the type of cattle that best suit this harsh area.

Selection criteria: Animals are selected primarily for drought tolerance and must obviously be true to form. Fertility is critical and even during bad years a cow must maintain a calving interval of less than 15 months. Disease resistance is one of our strongest points and we believe that our cattle are mostly resistant to anaplasmosis allowing us to dip infrequently (this is mostly only done when tick numbers become too high on the animals).

Grazing policy: All cattle are kept in herds and due to the very high density of lion and other predators, are brought into bomas (thorn pens) every night. The grazing is managed on a rotational resting policy and so we maintain high densities of cattle in certain areas which we heavily graze and then allow a full seasons’ rest before returning. Supplements are kept to a minimum (minerals in a salt lick) and only during very dry periods is molasses and urea given.

Average weaning weight: 170 kg

ADC Mutara – State Ranch

Herd Designation: ADC

Size: 60,000 acres

Number of animals: 6,000 head cattle, mostly Boran. They run about 200 registered Boran cows and the rest are commercial Boran.

The original owner, Brian Curry, was a pioneer of the Boran and Founder member of the Society when they started registering Boran in 1950’s. He worked with indigenous Borans from the 1930’s and had wide knowledge of the great traits of the Boran cattle. Mutara was taken over by the ADC in 1980. Every breeder in Kenya has used Mutara blood-lines in their herds at some time or another. It has shown to breed well with most other lines of Boran in Kenya. The red and grey Boran herds are kept separate on Mutara and the picturesque herds roaming the Laikipia plains are a joy to the eyes. Most South African breeders are sold on the Boran by the red herds that perform so well at Mutara.

Lolomarik Farm Gordon Murray

Herd Designation: KIM

Size: Lolomarik Farm, 10,300 acres, is situated on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya at an altitude of 7000 feet above sea level. The farm is all paddocked with piped water in each field. The boundary fence is electric and patrolled each day. There are a certain amount of wild animals on the farm, mainly zebra, buffalo, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, hyena and cheetah.

Average annual rainfall: Its annual rainfall is 25 inches per annum which is received in the months of March, April, May and October, November, December. Daytime temperatures average 22ºC and night time temperatures 10ºC with the prevailing wind coming from the north-east. The farm could be described as high and dry, with red oat grass being the natural grass.

Number of animals: We have 1500 Merino sheep and 1500 Dorper sheep, the rams of which were imported from South Africa. We are carrying about 900 head of cattle at the moment with about 120 Stud Boran Cows; within these 120 Stud Cows we have a stud herd of 45 natural poll stud cows. The bulls have been purchased from Ol Pejeta, Mogwooni, Segera and Mutara. The average birth weights are 30 kg. and the average weaning weights are 192 kgs.

Breeding policy: Until recently we have let the bulls run with the cows all the time but have now decided that we should have a breeding season. This has been done to try and avoid calves being born in the very dry season. All cattle are inoculated against foot & mouth, lumpy skin disease, contagious abortion, backwater and anthrax. There is a worming policy for the younger animals.

Selection Criteria: Our cattle are best described as being compact, medium sized and well proportioned and therefore able to cope with the relatively high and dry conditions of Lolomarik Farm.

Lolomarik did reasonably well at the recent Livestock Breeder’s Show held in Nairobi in June 2006, receiving a fourth prize in the Heifer Class and third with a young bull. At the previous show we received Reserve Champion Boran Bull

Ol Pejeta Livestock Manager Giles Prettejohn

Herd Designation: KPO

Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a total of 90 000 acres, of which 75 000 is game fenced and holds wildlife and cattle together. The other 15 000 acres is made up of crop land and specialised cattle area with limited game. We run a total of 6 500 head cattle over the whole area with probably over 10,000 head of wildlife, ranging from the big 5 to the smallest Thompson gazelle. Of the cattle total, 2,000 are breeding cows, 200 bulls, and the remainder weaners, heifers and steers up to 30 months old. All breeding cows are now pure Boran, and 300 are registered with the Kenya Stud Book. New bulls are constantly brought in from other breeders for use on our stud cows, whose best sons are then used on the commercial cows. On Ol Pejeta the cattle have to compete for grazing with wildlife (zebra and buffalo) and be exposed to a massive tick challenge and tick-borne diseases. Only the Boran are capable, of not only surviving, but producing in such conditions. With our own abattoir we slaughter over 1 600 head per year and supply the top butchers in Nairobi with quality range-fed Boran beef.

Ol Pejeta has been the home of the embryo quarantine centre for exports of embryos to Zimbabwe, 1992 and South Africa since 1994. Embryo Plus has recently built a new quarantine centre at Ol Pejeta of international standards.

Woragus Boran Stud – Mark & Nicky Myatt-Taylor

Herd Designation: Z7F

Woragus Boran Stud is owned by Mark & Nicky Myatt-Taylor and was started in 1995 on leased grazing on the slopes of Mt.Kenya. In 2005 the entire herd was moved down to Southern Tanzania, presently running 140 Stud Cows. In 2013 Woragus moved back to Kenya and are located near Eldoret.

Breeding policies are:

  • A medium framed animal with great length.
  • Very functional ( fertility, hardy and converters of rough forage)
  • A weaner of more than 45% of its dams weight.
  • Inter calving period of 353 days.
  • Average weaning weight 213kgs.
  • High meat to bone ratio.

The Stud was modeled around their main stud bull Gianni 2812, which came from the famous Suguroi Stud, which was sold up in 1994.

The Home of Champions – recent show winners from the Livestock Breeders’ Show in Nairobi, June 2011.

The senior judge was Martin Seyfferdt of South Africa. His comments on number 147 (red bull on the left) “He has tremendous top line, good muscling and character. He is a very good quality bull, very good on his legs and carrying a lot of meat. He is one of the best bulls I have judged in the last 10 years”.

His comments on number 202 (dapple bull on the riight) “He has very good hind quarters, is good on his legs and feet and has good length and breadth of body”.

Both bulls are Gianni 2812 grandsons. The 202 line won the progeny class.

Sosian Ranch – Ranch Manager: Sean Outram

Herd Designation: ZS2

Sosian Ranch is a 24,000 acre ranch in Laikipia West situated at an altitude of between

1680-1800m asl. Our average rainfall is 500mm making it one of the drier cattle ranches. As a result we tend to breed smaller more compact animals which are better suited to the frequent dry spells we have in the area. The entire Sosian herd is run as a Boran stud. We have a total of 300 registered breeding Boran cows with a total herd of 1250-1500 head resulting in approximately one animal per 20 acres. The core of the Sosian herd comes from the very old original ranch cattle which have been bred on Sosian since the ranch begun in the 1930’s. However previous breeding was very varied and records were few so we only had an initial herd of 72 Sosian cows registered as foundation in 2007. Since then we have bought in cows and bulls from Mogwooni, Ol Pejeta, Suyian/Kisima, Loisaba, Stanley and Sons, Marula, and most recently some very valuable animals from the Kruger herd in Eldoret. (I am also in the process of trying to get hold of some of the old Segera cattle which are no longer run as a stud herd but would be another valuable injection of genetics).