Tuli: Zimbabwe’s own breed
In the 1940’s Len Harvey was a lands development officer tasked with developing an indigenous breed of cattle. In the Lowveld area, south of Gwanda, Mr Harvey had observed that there was a distinctive type of “yellow” Sanga cattle amongst the indigenous cattle that were superior and adapted to the local conditions. In 1945, government set aside a parcel of land to start a breeding programme to develop and improve this local breed of cattle through careful selection and by avoiding indiscriminate crossbreeding.
Harvey then set about buying in cattle from the local farmers to see if they could pass on the traits that had caught his eye which made these cattle better adapted and suited to their environment. In 1946, the Tuli Breeding Station was set up along the banks of the Tuli River. This was the start of our very own breed of cattle, as we now say: Proudly Zimbabwean!
The initial herd was made up of 20 cows and a bull and Harvey continued to purchase cattle at the local sales and within a few months it rose to 60 cows and two bulls. The project was deemed to be a success and more land was allocated, enlarging the breeding station to 20 000 acres. By 1961 the herd had grown to 1 000 head and the Tuli Breed Society was formed.
The Boomerang Stud was formed in 1965 by the Goodwins. They purchased seven cows, 18 heifers and an outstanding bull D457 known as “Patch”. The characteristic of passing on the “Patch” is still prevalent today and can be seen on some of the cattle that will be on auction on May 17 at Mt Hampden. The Jambo Stud, belonging to the Johnsons in Tengwe, is the longest surviving private Tuli herd that has been in stud breeding for 51 impressive years. Breeders from all around the country, ranging from the very dry and arid areas of the Lowveld to the higher rainfall areas of Mashonaland, have all been very successful cattle farmers with the Tuli breed and this is a strong testament to the adaptability, early maturing, high fertility and hardiness of this great Zimbabwean breed of cattle.
The early successes of this breed in winning some of the very prestigious awards at our agricultural shows, against some very tough competition from the other breeds, has encouraged more farmers to breed with the Tuli thereby enhancing the breed.
The Tuli has been exported to as far as the United States, Canada and Australia where they are involved in successful cross breeding programmes, and in South Africa, there is a very large and vibrant Tuli society. Our other neighbours Zambia, Botswana, Namibia all have our Tuli cattle. All these success stories contribute to why the Tuli has become a very successful breed in its own right. We question ourselves as to what has made this such a successful breed and listed below are some of the reasons why:
1) Very adaptable to our different circumstances and conditions;
2) Very fertile and early maturing, heifers can conceive at 15 months, and cows tend to calve every year;
3) Hardy cattle which are not as severely affected by the everyday challenges of ticks, parasites and other diseases;
4) They make very good use of low-quality grazing and are also able to browse trees and bushes to good advantage, and in drought years like this year, one will find the Tuli in better condition than the other breeds;
5) The mothers have very good maternal instincts;
6) The breed contains the poll (no horns) genes and this makes for easier management;
7) Tuli cross-breed extremely well with other breeds, and the strong attractive traits of the Tuli compliment the other breeds both of Bos Indicus (Brahman type cattle) and the Bos Taurus (Simmental, Limousine, Hereford etc type cattle) very well and exhibit a high degree of hybrid vigour producing top crossbred cattle; and
8) The meat quality of the Tuli is well known and has some marbling in the meat.
All these traits are the strong points of the Tuli and this breed is better suited to less intensive management, which is particularly important in the economic times we find ourselves in, where farmers are unable to dip their cattle as frequently as they would like, winter maintenance isn’t given as it should be etc, and yet the Tuli still tends to do well.
More and more farmers in Zimbabwe are no longer directly involved in their cattle management on a day to day basis and the Tuli is ideally suited to this type of management. Climate does seem to be changing and this is one breed that will be able to adapt to the changing climatic conditions.
The Zimbabwe Tuli Society is one of the strongest societies in the country and under Zimbabwe Herd Book we maintain a very good set of records which pertain to the Tulis.
We are the only society which can boast the fact that our record keeping is good enough to be able to obtain Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) on a wide variety of different traits. An EBV is a tremendous tool available to the breeder and buyer a like to more accurately predict the performance of future progeny.
The Zimbabwe Tuli Society are holding their second annual production sale on May 17, 2019, at Mt Hampden. For breeders to enter the sale they have had to have submitted 5 top heifers.
Bulls are also on offer and a breeder may sell one bull for every five females entered. In today’s times, when quality breeding stock is in short supply, this is a wonderful opportunity for other cattlemen and cattlewomen to increase their herds with some very good genetics. Do not miss this opportunity.
Visit our webpage, www.tuli.co.zw or facebook page, Tuli Cattle Society, for further information on the breed, breeders and sale.