Breeds of Cattle in Ethiopia

The predominant breed of cattle in the south-central area of Ethiopia where we were working is the Arsi cattle. These cattle are very small-framed compared to cattle in the United States. Almost to the point that you would call them "miniature cattle" or "dwarf cattle". Heifers from our farm in Kokosa are in the picture to the left. They are about 3 feet tall (from the ground to the top of their backs).

Their size is probably due to a combination of lower nutrition and poor genetic selection over thousands of years. Typically, the male animals are not castrated, and the cattle are allowed to congregate together from different herds, so there's little or no control on the breeding of the animals. Due to their small size, we were not able to use these at all for embryo recipients and just ended up breeding them with Jersey semen.

The other common breed of cattle in the area is the Boran cattle, that are a larger-framed cattle, very similar to the Brahman cattle in the United States. When these animals are fed properly, they are about the same size as mature cattle in the United States.

In our program, we are working with the Boran cattle at the Adami Tulu Research Institution. Some of our boran heifers are pictured at the right. They are about 4 feet tall now, and will grow to 5 feet tall as adults. Unfortunately, due to a drought in Southern Ethiopia, many of those were not fed properly before they came to the Research Institution. Consequently, we were not able to put embryos in many of the animals that were acquired for that purpose.

We are hopeful that, with good feeding, these animals will be healthy enough to be used as embryo recipients on our next visit.


  1. What about Fogera, Begait, Sheko, Abigar......breeds?

  2. I did not have an opportunity to work with those breeds. Tell us about them.


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