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Shorthorn cattle of west and central Africa II. Ecological settings, utility, management and production systems

The environment
Specific ecological settings of Shorthorn cattle populations
Utility, management and production systems

J.E.O. Rege, G.S. Aboagye and C.L. Tawah.

The authors can be contacted as follows: Dr J. E. O., Rege International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), PO Box 5689, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Dr G. S. Aboagye, Department of Animal Science, University of Ghana, Logon, Accra, Ghana; and Dr C.L. Tawah, Centre for Animal and veterinary Research, PO Box 65, Ngaoundéré, Adamawa, Cameroon.

The environment

Competition from the generally larger and supposedly more productive zebu cattle restricts the ecological habitat of trypanotolerant cattle to the tsetse-infested zones where the zebu cannot survive. As a result, the single most important factor determining the distribution of trypanotolerant cattle in the region is the distribution of tsetse flies. This, in turn, is closely related to geographical relief, hydrography, climate and vegetation. ILCA (1979a) has presented a summary description of some of the features of the West and Central African region where trypanotolerant livestock are found. The northern limit of the area is considered to be the 750 mm isohyet, above which is the dry, tsetse-free Sahelian zone. Between the 750 mm and 1 500 mm isohyets is a transition climate that, in terms of rainfall and vegetation, can be divided into a Sahelo-Sudanian zone up to about 1 250 mm and a Sudano-Guinean zone from 1 250 to 1 500 mm. Farther south, the humid tropical climate can be subdivided, mainly in terms of vegetation, into the Guinea savannah and forest zones. These zones differ in both amount and distribution of rainfall.

Superimposed on this broad zonal delineation are the effects of such local relief features as inland basins, river valleys and mountains or highland areas. Between the coastal regions and the basins of the Niger River, Western Congo and Lake Chad, prominent massifs are found. Local highland areas include the Fouta Djallon Ranges (1 000 to 1 500 m above sea level), the Guinea Dorsal (800 to 1 752 msl), the Togolese Mountains (600 to 920 msl), the Jos Plateau in Nigeria (800 to 1 690 msl), the Adamawa Mountains in Cameroon (900 to 3 008 msl) and the Crystal Mountains in Gabon (600 to 1 000 msl). In addition to the coastal rain forest, the river basins ramified by a network of rivers and streams - are also covered by dense rain forest.

Somba cattle in Benin - Bovins Somba au Bénin - Vacunos Somba en Benin. Photos/Fotos: J.-P. Dehoux & G. Hounsou-Ve (A)

Somba cattle in Benin - Bovins Somba au Bénin - Vacunos Somba en Benin. Photos/Fotos: J.-P. Dehoux & G. Hounsou-Ve (B)

Somba cattle in Benin - Bovins Somba au Bénin - Vacunos Somba en Benin. Photos/Fotos: J.-P. Dehoux & G. Hounsou-Ve (C)

Somba cattle in Benin - Bovins Somba au Bénin - Vacunos Somba en Benin. Photos/Fotos: J.-P. Dehoux & G. Hounsou-Ve (D)

The effects of these local relief features on local ecology can be considerable. For example, the Sudan savannah is characterized by high temperatures, low relative humidity of about 8 percent in dry months, generally dry conditions with rainfall averaging 635 mm annually, an extended dry season of five to six months and a single rainy season. The Atacora Mountains, however, have an annual rainfall of more than 1 300 mm. In addition, the natural vegetation here is open woodland with grassland comprising Andropogon, Hyparrhenia and Imperata spp. or woodland savannah with species such as Isoberlina doka and Monotes Kerstinguii. Similarly, the Namchi area, home of the Namchi, or Doayo, breed at the foothills of Poli Mountain in Cameroon, receives more than 1 000 mm of rain over a period of only about three months. As has been stated, the distribution of trypanotolerant livestock is closely linked with that of the tsetse fly and is influenced by the degree of disease challenge presented by varying tsetse population densities and the ability of a species to transmit the disease (Jordan, 1988).

Specific ecological settings of Shorthorn cattle populations

Ghana Shorthorn

Found in all vegetative zones, including the humid forest zone, the distribution of the Ghana Shorthorn indicates that its habitat is not limited to the savannah regions alone, despite the fact that it is classified as a Savanna Shorthorn. The Guinean savannah woodland area in Ghana found north of the forest zone stretches down to the southeastern plains. It comprises a continuous cover of grass and low fire-resistant trees. Typical trees are Parkia spp., Jacarand spp. and Butyrospermum parkii (WAA, 1976). There is a single rainy season from March to October in the northern half of the country during which 1000 to 1200 mm of rain falls annually. Temperatures are very high with a mean annual maximum of 34.5°C in the extreme north. The humid rain forest in the southwest of Ghana receives an average rainfall of between 1 210 and 3 312 mm annually. The other forests are semi-deciduous with a bimodal rainfall pattern and mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures of 30° and 21°C, respectively. The coastal savannah of Ghana receives an annual rainfall of 800 to 1 000 mm between April and November. During the dry seasons (November and March), maximum daily temperatures can be as high as 32.2°C. Mean monthly relative humidity is about 70 percent at 15.00 h (GMT).

Andropopogon, Brachiaria and Hyparrhenia spp. are the most common grasses of the coastal savannah. The southeastern part of this area, near Ada and Keta Lagoon? is the habitat of the few Dwarf (Forest) Muturu in Ghana. This is an unusual location for animals whose size is usually associated with a forest habitat. This area forms part of the Accra plains, a savannah region unusual for the coastal belt, which extends eastward to the Togo border. Tsetse fly infestation in this area is reportedly low (ILCA, 1979b).


In both Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso, the habitat of the Baoulé has a Sudano-Guinean climate. The climate is tropical subhumid with a dry season from November to April during which the Harmattan winds influence the area. The rainy season lasts from May to October with a peak from July to September. The northern frontiers of Côte d'Ivoire have a Sudanian vegetation with occasional islands of dense, dry forest over mostly savannah landscape. Farther south the vegetation is sub-Sudanian, characterized by dry woodland and savannah. The Bagou River flows through the region from south to north, and its gallery forests form the major habitat of tsetse of the palpalis group. In the dry season, Glossina palpalis and G. tachinoides are mainly confined to the riverine gallery forests. In the rainy season, however, G. tachinoides may be detected in forest islands at some distance from watercourses.


The Muturu's present location in Nigeria is the forest zone and Guinea savannah of the Middle Belt (Adeniji, 1985). The Dwarf (Forest) Muturu is found in the rain forest (Rouse, 1970; Olutogun, 1976; Fricke, 1979) just north of the coastal mangrove swamp, but a few hundred Muturu were reportedly found in the swamps of the states of Cross River, Bendel, Ondo, Ogun, Lagos (ILCA, 1979b) and Rivers (Akinwumi and Ikpi, 1985). The coastal forests, located south of the seventh parallel in the west and below the sixth parallel in the east (ILCA, 1979b), have constantly high temperatures (ranging from 26° to 28°C) and high humidity, with an annual rainfall of between 1 800 and 3 000 mm (Jeune Afrique, 1973). The rainy season lasts from seven to eight months between May and December, interrupted in August by a short dry season that becomes less distinct towards the south and disappears along the coast where there is virtually daily rainfall.

The habitat of the Nigerian Savanna Muturu is the "derived" savannah and the Guinea savannah. The former, which covers a narrow belt between the Guinea savannah to the north and the rain forest to the south, is a climax vegetation created by the destruction of the original forest cover through constant shifting cultivation and population pressures (Olutogun, 1976). Located in the higher rainfall belt of the country, the derived savannah represents a better natural grassland. Such annual grasses as Brachiaria defiexa and Digitaria horizontalis are among the first species to appear after the original forest is cleared. Perennials, including Pennisetum purpureum, Panicum maximum, Ctenium newtonii, Andropopogon tectorum and Hyparrhenia rufa, appear later.

The Guinea savannah receives an average of 1 500 to 2 000 mm of rainfall, while the surrounding plateau and plains receive 1 000 to 1 500 mm and the drier west receives 500 to 1 000 mm. It is characterized by tall perennial grasses (1.5 to 3.0 m high) such as Andropopogon and Hyparrhenia that grow in tussocks and provide wide ground coverage. Pennisetum and Panicum, among others, form the lower (1.0 to 1.5 m) storey (Fricke, 1979). The type of grass is dictated by soil moisture. Dry soils are dominated by such plant associations as Loudetia arundinacea, Ctenium newtonii and Monocymbium ceresii, while damp soils support grasses such as Pennisetum purpureum, Chloris, Robusta and Brachiaria spp.

The habitats of both Muturu types (Forest and Savanna) fall within the tsetse belt. G. fusca is associated with the coastal forest, while the morsitans and palpalis groups are found in the savannah areas (ILCA, 1979b).

Liberian Dwarf

In Liberia, the main habitat of Muturu is the eastern coastal areas of Maryland and Sinoe counties and farther inland in Grand Gedeh and Bong. The whole country has a humid tropical climate and forest vegetation. The low coastal belt, about 80 km wide, receives over 5 000 mm of rainfall (Jeune Afrique, 1973; ILCA, 1979b) and is well watered by shallow lagoons, tidal creeks and mangrove marshes. Average annual temperature is 27°C with mean maximum of 37°C and minimum of 10°C. Behind the coastal belt lies an undulating plateau 500 to 800 m above sea level that is partly covered with grass and dense forests. Inland and to the north is the mountain area which is also covered by forest. Long rainy seasons between May and November alternate with dry seasons from November to December and April to May. Most precipitation is received in June and September. The whole of Liberia is tsetse-infested. G. palpalis, G. pallicera and G. fusca are widely distributed, while G. medicorum is found in the south (ILCA, 1979b).


In Cameroon, the habitat of the Bakweri is around the foot of Mount Cameroon, between Buea and Victoria in the South West Province. This area has a humid forest climate with annual rainfall of between 1 500 and 4 000 mm. The habitat is similar to that of the Muturu in the forest areas of Nigeria and Liberia. The dominant tsetse species are G. tabaniformis, G. nigrofusca, G. pallicera and G. caligenia (ILCA, 1979b).

Somba, Kapsiki, Doayo and Bakosi

Somba cattle are principally found in Sudano-Guinean savannahs, while the Kapsiki and Namchi inhabit the Sahelo-Sudanian zone, with the Kapsiki being predominantly on the Sahelian side and the Doayo (Namchi) in-the more Sudanian climate. The habitat of the Kapsiki cattle in the Mandara Mountains is at an altitude of 600 to 1 000 m. The rainy season is between June and October with the maximum rainfall occurring in August. Rainfall recorded between 1983 and 1984 ranged from 514 to 830 mm, while minimum and maximum temperatures were 8° to 10°C and 32°C, respectively (Dineur and Thys, 1986). The dry season lasts for seven months. The vegetation is savannah interspersed with such trees as Isoberlina spp., Adansonia digitata, Boswellia dalzielli, Combretum spp., Daniellia oliveri and Ficus populifolia. The most common grasses are Hyparrhenia hirta, Andropogon gayanus, Pennisetum pedicellatum, Cymbopogon giganteus, Rhynchelytrum repens, Thelepogon elegans and Aristida spp. The habitat of the Kapsiki breed is presumed to be tsetse-free (Dineur and Thys, 1986). The Bakosi area in Banghem is derived savannah merging into humid forest. Annual rainfall ranges from 2 000 to 3 000 mm. The level of tsetse infestation in the area is not fully known, but it is unlikely that there are any tsetse flies in the higher altitude areas and varying degrees of infestation may possibly be found in the forests (ILCA, 1979b).

Lagune and other Forest Shorthorns

In general, Dwarf (Forest) Shorthorns, including the Lagune, have a restricted ecological zone (Pagot, 1974) limited to the coastal forests of Côte d'Ivoire, Togo and Benin, the Atacora Mountains of Benin and the riverine areas of Chad (for "Logone"), as well as to the tropical forests of Gabon, Zaire and the Congo and the Guinea savannah of Zaire and the Congo. A description of these habitats has been presented by ILCA (1979b). The coastal forests are characterized by Guinean or Sudano-Guinean climate with an annual rainfall ranging from 1 200 mm in Benin to 2 400 mm in Côte d'Ivoire. Two rainy seasons occur from March to July and from September to November. The most common tsetse fly species in these habitats are G. palpalis, G. fusca, G. medicorum, G. pallicera pallicera and G. longipalpis. Trypanosomes commonly found are T. vivax, T. brucei and T. congolense.

The humid tropical forests have an annual rainfall varying from 1 600 mm to 3 000 mm. In Gabon, this habitat is infested with G. palpalis, G. tabaniforms and G. haningtoni. In the Guinea savannahs of the Congo and Zaire, rainfall varies from 1 200 mm in the Congo to 2 000 mm at the equator in Zaire. gas-Zaire, Bandundu and Equateur are the most heavily infested regions in Zaire. The main tsetse species here are G. fuscipes and G. palpalis. Common trypanosomes are T. vivax and T. congolense. Although the Logone breed is said to be trypanotolerant, no tsetse flies are present in its habitat in the riverine areas of Chad (Landais, 1980).

Utility, management and production systems

Ghana Shorthorn

Ghana Shorthorns are poor milkers (Maule, 1990) and so are generally not milked (Ngere, 1974). Montsma (1960) concluded that the milk yield of Ghana Shorthorns was too low to warrant the sale of fresh milk without adverse effects on the growth and general wellbeing of the calf. Moreover, when milked in the absence of the calf, they go dry within a few weeks (Ngere et al., 1975). The breed has good conformation for meat production, however (Domingo, 1976), and yields reasonable beef carcasses (Ngere, 1974). It is also used for draught.

Over 99 percent of all Ghana Shorthorns are kept in village herds (Straw and Hoste, 1987). Most cattle owners in Ghana are resident farmers, but town dwellers are increasingly becoming absentee cattle owners using hired herders, usually the Fulani (ILCA, 1979b). In such situations, the herders milk the animals, which forms a large part of their salary. Cattle are grazed on communally owned land (Cockcroft, 1977). In many cases, especially in the main livestock region in the north, animals of several households are herded together and tended- by village children, partly because the animals are good-natured (ILCA, 1979b). Animals are penned at night. In the southeast, a herd may be allowed to graze on a farmer's land in exchange for the manure produced. In northern Ghana, herd sizes are usually small, with a typical family owning 5 to 20 head of cattle (ILCA, 1979b). A high percentage of oxen - up to 10 percent of a herd - are kept in areas where they are used for draught.

Baoulé and Lobi

Unlike Ghana Shorthorns, milking is practiced in some Baoulé herds in northern Côte d'Ivoire (Godet et al., 1981). Here, herders usually receive a salary plus all or part of the milk from the herds. Among the Lobi people of Bouna in the Northern Region of Côte d'Ivoire, milking is rarer than elsewhere - less than 50 percent of the herds were reportedly milked and only 25 percent of these were milked regularly (Godet, 1976). As has been noted, sales for cash represent an important cattle function in these production systems. In Baoulé herds, there appears to be a high offtake of young males between two and four years of age. Results from a survey carried out in Dabakala, Korhogo and Bouna in Côte d'Ivoire (Poivey and Seitz, 1977) revealed that herds consisted of 31 percent males and 69 percent females with virtually no steers and an insignificant proportion of males over two years of age. Some herds had as many as six adult (mature) bulls. These obviously function as the breeding bulls, at village level, in communal pastures.

About 99 percent of the cattle are kept under village conditions (Straw and Hoste, 1987) and the rest are kept in research stations and ranches, most of which are government-owned. In the north of Côte d'Ivoire, Baoulé cattle from one village are often herded together by hired Fulani herders who also milk the animals. Calves are separated from their dams in the evenings on return from grazing. In the mornings, they are allowed to suck their dams to stimulate milk let-down, facilitating milk offtake. Generally a maximum of three teats are milked, after which calves are allowed to consume the remainder of the milk (Godet et al., 1981). Fulani herders are often dissatisfied with their terms of employment, resulting in rapid turnover among them (ILCA, 1979b). The wellbeing of the animals tends to suffer as a result of this. In Côte d'Ivoire, SODEPALM (Societé pour le développement de l'élevage sous palmeraies) established a few Baoulé herds in 1979 with improved conditions on palm tree plantations. These animals are reported to have adapted well.

All the Lobi cattle in Burkina Faso are kept under village production systems (Straw and Hoste, 1987), while 99 percent of Baoulé in the Central African Republic are kept under the métayage system (ILCA, 1979a). This system is used to introduce cattle husbandry at the village level in regions where cattle rearing has not been a traditional activity. A basic breeding herd consisting of five to ten heifers and a bull is provided under contract to an individual or a small group of villagers by a commercial, governmental or religious organization that maintains central breeding herds. The central organization undertakes to provide technical assistance and veterinary inputs. In the event of loss resulting from natural causes, the animals are replaced without charge. The Baoulé cattle in Gabon are kept under the old métayage method or are generally left to wander freely with minimal supervision and no purchased inputs (Straw and Hoste, 1987).


Muturu are generally not milked (Ross, 1944; Fricke, 1979; Ngere, 1990) since their yield is just sufficient for their calves. Throughout most of southern Nigeria, however, milk is extracted from Muturu by native doctors for medicinal preparations. The animals and their hides are used mainly for ritual sacrifices and ceremonies (Fricke, 1979), particularly funerals (ILCA, 1979b). When a pagan dies, for example, one or more oxen are sacrificed and the corpse is rolled up in the hides of the slaughtered animals, while the meat forms part of the ceremonial feast. Occasionally, Muturu cattle are slaughtered specifically to provide meat (Ferguson, 1967; Domingo, 1976; Fricke, 1979).

Muturu are used for draught in some areas (Domingo, 1976; Adeniji, 1985), although they are not commonly used as work animals. Some villages own only a few head, which scavenge around the huts (Rouse, 1970). Muturu are commonly kept as pets (Ross, 1944; Rouse, 1970) or, frequently, they are used for prestige or dowry purposes (Ross, 1944). Manure is collected only occasionally (ILCA, 1979b).

Because of the wide distribution of Muturu, it is difficult to make general statements about management practices, which range from permanent confinement with stall feeding, through to tethering, to year-round grazing. Grandin (1980) gave a detailed description of the Muturu-keeping systems found among the Egun in the 1970s, but significant changes have occurred in these systems since then. Akinwumi and Ikpi (1985) also made a comprehensive presentation of the production systems of the Muturu in Nigeria and, more recently, Resource Inventory and Management Ltd (RIM, 1992) presented detailed coverage of management systems of Muturu in different regions of Nigeria. These presentations indicate a very wide variation in the systems of herding, feeding and housing. Availability of labour and access to grazing land seem to be the overriding determinants of the type of husbandry system used. On the one hand, expanding cultivation in many areas, especially in Igboland, either has tended to discourage the keeping of Muturu or has forced owners to turn to stall-feeding or tethering systems. On the other hand, some of the northern Muturu populations, such as those in the northeast and on the Dimmuk escarpment, have ready access to mountain pastures that are of no value as arable land and can therefore be grazed by cattle with little supervision without risk of damage to crops.

In Igboland, about 45 percent of the herds are taken out to graze, 45 percent are tethered and 10 percent are permanently stall-fed. The animals are kept in enclosures surrounded by hedges (oka-efi) with built-in sheds for shelter during the night or in bad weather. Traditionally, these cattle were considered sacred (juju cattle) in this region and were the property of local deities or were dedicated to the shrine. With the decline in tradition and the destruction of shrines, however, many villages are without a bull, which threatens the survival of these cattle populations.

The Koma people of the Antlantika Mountains in Gongola State keep semi-feral Muturu, which are neither tended nor supplemented, on the slopes outside their villages. Individual animals required for sacrifice have to be hunted down, although by-laws were passed in the 1970s to restrict the hunting of Muturu to year-round cut-and-carry systems in Yorubaland. This has not worked very well mainly because of the labour-intensiveness of stall feeding. As a result, both free-range and stall feeding are practiced in Yorubaland.

Traditions and beliefs relating to the Muturu on the Jos Plateau appear to reflect the "wild" nature of the animal (RIM, 1992). Not only are the animals not milked, but it is also considered taboo to tie them up. In addition, ticks are not removed as they are considered to be harmless. In this area, cattle are confined during the night in pens set close to the compound. Manure from these pens is collected at the beginning of the rains to fertilize the fields.

Most Muturu in southern Nigeria are in the hands of private owners, whether individuals, the community or traditional chiefs and royal families. The animals receive little care and largely survive by scavenging around the village. They are usually seen grazing and sleeping in the fields of community schools. Where the animals are communally owned, rampant superstition limits their control and they are often allowed to roam about, destroying crop farms. Aggrieved crop farmers are not permitted to harm them. In some areas, cattle ownership is limited to traditional rulers and highly placed chiefs from whom permission must be sought before an animal is killed.

The Muturu village production systems can be classified into three broad groups: free-range, household (compound) and communal (cooperative). In addition to these, a few government stations such as Ado Ekiti, Imala and Odeda keep Muturu (Akinwumi and Ikpi, 1985). The free-range system has been associated with the "wildness" of the Muturu (Epstein, 1971; Fricke, 1979; Akinwumi and Ikpi, 1985). Household production systems are characterized by the provision of a shed and stall feeding. Common feeds used in this system include cassava leaves, chopped tubers, yam peels, maize on the cob, fresh maize leaves, kola nut pods and salt. Limited grazing on the compound is also possible. Under this system, animals grow quite fat when feeds are abundant. Such herds tend to have no bulls, however, and breeding is usually a problem.

The communal production system is common in the states of Ondo and Rivers in Nigeria. In Rivers State, the usual system of management is to allow the cattle to range freely throughout the year. In many cases, cattle are owned by the community and cannot be slaughtered without permission from elders or a special committee. The semi-feral animals are not milked. They receive little veterinary care and are not given any supplementary feed. Little attention is paid to their breeding. These factors plus the importation of zebus from the north make the disappearance of Muturu from Rivers State almost inevitable (RIM, 1992). More organized communal systems also exist, however, where owners pool their animals, often uniquely tagged, and engage one or two Fulani herders. A tract of land is set aside within the village for housing. Local government authorities occasionally provide a kraal within which improved pastures are developed and made available at a fee to the cattle owners. This system was adopted in response to the persistent agitation of crop farmers over the destruction of their crops and has had contrasting consequences in different states. In Ondo State, the acceptance of this system has essentially ensured the survival of Muturu, while in adjacent Bendel State several communities were forced to slaughter their cattle as a result of constant pressure from farmers of arable crops. This partly explains the decline in the Muturu population in this state between 1977 and 1984.

The Muturu in Liberia are also kept under village conditions although commercial production is being initiated on the rubber plantations of Liberian Agricultural Company and Firestone, as well as on private commercial farms. Under village conditions, these animals are rarely herded and receive very little care. In some cases they are tethered to avoid crop damage (ILCA, 1979b).

Kapsiki, Doayo, Bakosi and Bakweri

Kapsiki, Doayo (Namchi) and Bakosi cattle play an important role in the traditional life of the Kapsiki, Namchi and Bakosi peoples. The animals are neither milked (ILCA, 1979b) nor exploited commercially and are used in much the same way as Muturu cattle in Nigeria for dowries, special feasts and rituals. The Kapsiki cattle in Cameroon are also associated with burial ceremonies and, like the Muturu in Nigeria, play an important part in complex ritual rites. As many as four to five Kapsiki cows may be given as dowry (Dineur and Thys, 1986). At funerals, at least one animal must be slaughtered - the number slaughtered depending on the importance of the deceased - and the hides are used to wrap the corpse. The Kapsiki are used in some areas as draught animals. Intricate entrustment relations have also been developed among the Kapsiki people to ensure even distribution of the cattle throughout the community (van Beek, 1978). However, the role of cattle in religious ceremonies is declining as Islam becomes widespread in the area.

Herd size of Kapsiki cattle is quite variable. Households generally own five to ten head and sometimes fewer (ILCA, 1979b). Dineur and Thys (1986) reported an average herd size of 7±2 with a range of 2 to 30 head from a sample of 33 herds. These are brought together in collective herds and tended by children. This herding practice is also employed for the Namchi and Bakosi. At night, animals are kept in pens close to the compound. Reproduction among the Kapsiki is said to be controlled, a practice reportedly responsible for the maintenance of the breed in a relatively pure form (Dineur and Thys, 1986).

Bakosi cattle in Cameroon are also neither herded nor milked and are thought to be becoming smaller and less fertile as a result of isolation and inbreeding (ILCA, 1979b). One animal may have several owners. The few Dwarf Shorthorns in Cameroon - the Bakweri - are kept on palm plantations where they graze the legume Pueraria phaseolides (kudzu), which grows under the palm trees (ILCA, 1979b).


Somba is mainly a beef animal kept for social reasons (Maule, 1990), but it is milked in some areas (Avegan, 1984). Because of its small size, however, the Somba is not used for draught. They are usually tended by hired Fulani herders or by children. Herd sizes vary from 10 to 100 animals and can even reach 250 to 300 head. The animals are grazed exclusively on pastures, although traders or functionaries who may own these cattle provide salt-licks, agro-industrial by-products and crop residues on the pastures (Avegan, 1984). In the Somba area in Togo, for example, more than 80 percent of the residents practice mixed crop-livestock farming. They cultivate food crops, mainly maize, yams, millet and rice, cash crops, such as cotton, groundnuts, coffee and cocoa, and horticultural crops, including pineapples, pears, bananas, sugar cane, oranges and tangerines. Residues from these crops are the main source of supplementary feed.

Togo is not an important livestock country (Somoko-Balantpli and Freitas, 1978) and livestock rearing is a minor, almost marginal activity that enables certain traditional expenses to be met. In the whole of the southern part of the country, local farmers have little interest in livestock. They even show a certain contempt for cattle herding (ILCA, 1979a). However, the Kontomba of Région du Centre and the Kabré of Région du Kara, the two major regions of Somba cattle, seem to place more importance on livestock. Husbandry here differs from that of the Fulani in the north. After harvest, animals are allowed to roam freely, unattended, until the next cropping season.


Lagune cattle are slaughtered for beef (Pagot, 1974; Domingo 1976; Mortelmans and Kageruka, 1976; Adeniji, 1985). They are generally poor milk producers (Pagot, 1974; Domingo, 1976) and are not used for traction (Domingo, 1976). The populations imported into the Congo and Gabon were not used for milk, meat or traction and only culls were slaughtered (Anonymous, 1950). In Gabon, a multiplication herd of 53 head of Lagune cattle was established at the Estuaire Region with the main objective of manure production (ILCA, 1979b).

The management and production systems under which Lagune cattle are raised are mainly traditional, even though some animals are kept under improved conditions (Adeniji, 1985). In Benin, animals graze freely on natural pastures, under palm trees and coconut trees and on fallow land. There are no provisions for feed supplementation nor for veterinary care. On the contrary, under improved conditions, such as at the Samiondji station, animals graze natural or sown pastures in fenced paddocks and receive veterinary attention.

Generally, Lagune cattle fend for themselves around the villages (Agbemelo, 1983). Under these conditions, the husbandry systems are no different from the free-range system under which most southern Nigerian Muturu populations are kept. Unlike free-range Muturu, however, Lagune cattle are reported to be docile (Agbemelo, 1983). In Côte d'Ivoire, Lagune cattle are kept in areas where farmers do not traditionally keep cattle, and they are rarely herded (ILCA, 1979b). Lagune cattle in Zaire also roam freely in small herds of three to six, living on forest undergrowth and fallow land. They seek grazing everywhere and sometimes traverse long distances (Mortelmans and Kageruka, 1976). This is similar to the situation in the Congo, where the animals are kept exclusively in village herds (ILCA, 1979b). Lagune cattle imported into Gabon from Zaire were introduced at the village level through métayage operations (ILCA, 1979b). Here, they are kept in herds of 7 to 12, roaming freely during the day and penned at night. They are seldom given mineral supplements and are not sprayed against ticks. These animals were originally intended for Gabonese farmers, but it is reported that some were sold to immigrants from Cameroon who kept them under the same conditions for commercial purposes.

Zebu x Shorthorn crossbreeds

As pointed out in the previous article, there are four types of zebu x Shorthorn crossbreeds: the Méré in Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso; the Sanga in Ghana; the Borgou in Togo and Benin; and the Keteku (or Borgu) in Nigeria. The common environment of these populations is the intermediate Sudanian zone between the zebu-dominated north and the tsetse-infested south, which provides the greatest opportunity for interbreeding between the two groups. This is an important agricultural area, producing groundnuts, cotton and sorghum. Farming is intensive and livestock density is high (ILCA, 1979a). Livestock are confined to fallow land or areas unsuitable for cultivation during the rainy season. In the dry season animals are left to graze freely, and crop residues, mainly cereal straws and groundnut haulms, make an important contribution to their diet. Fodder is not usually grown but there is an abundance of groundnut stalks and standing hay.

When the cattle owners or herders are Fulani, the animals are managed in a similar way to any Fulani herd. Draught animals are widely used to pull carts and ploughs in many of these areas, such as Sine Salown in Senegal, southern Mali, southern Burkina Faso and the province of Borgou in Benin (ILCA, 1979b). Cattle are also used for manuring fields, which is achieved by letting animals feed on crop residues in the field. In some areas, animals are tethered in the fields. Herds are often large and the percentage of males high (28 to 32 percent).

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