BREED ORIGIN & CHARACTERISTICS
The N’Dama, a native (Bos Taurus) of Senegal, North West Africa was crossed with the British breed, Red Poll. The two breed composite was developed on the island of St Croix in the Caribbean, at the beginning of the 20th century. The result of infusing the Red Poll was a combining of the N’Dama’s superior traits of heat tolerance, insect resistance and ability to thrive on poor quality forage, with the carcase quality, high fertility, feed efficiency, quiet nature and renowned maternal and milking ability of the Red Poll. The Senepol has been a fixed breed now for almost a century.
- solid red colour, ranging from dark red to a lighter ginger colour
- in general have a very short hair coat type
- are naturally polled
- have good eye and skin pigmentation
- a docile temperament – being easily managed and handled in extensive pastoral conditions
The development of the breed placed high natural selection pressure on structural soundness, hardiness and fertility. The island environment of St Croix encompasses both wet tropics with high humidity and rainfall and hot, dry savanna country. Tropical parasites and cattle tick are abundant and the native feed low in quality. This ‘home’ of Senepol has produced a tough, adaptable breed of cattle with the ability to thrive under harsh conditions, maintaining fertility, tropical resistance and feed efficiency whilst producing an excellent eating quality carcase.
Senepol are best described as being of medium frame – extremes of muscle and bone having been avoided in striking a workable balance of feed efficiency to growth, fertility and calving ease.
- reach puberty earlier than Bos Indicus breeds
- females are renowned for their ease of calving and calves for their fast ‘get up and go’ vigour
- heifers will calve as two year olds under normal management conditions
- longevity is well documented, breeders often still efficiently producing calves well into their teen years
- average birthweight of calves is 34kg
- average mature weight of cows is 500 – 700kg at pasture
- bulls average 800 – 950kgs at pasture
- bulls have a high libido, are fertile and aggressive breeders from an early age.
A pure Bos Taurus breed with superior heat tolerance (USDA Subtropical Research Station, Brooksville, Florida) Dr Tim Olsen’s long term research findings established that Senepol cows maintained a cooler rectal temperature than Brahman cows whilst grazing during the heat of the day. These studies also found that the F1 Senepol maintained rectal temperatures the same as full blood Senepol thereby indicating the ability to pass on the factor in crossbreeding.
Disease and Insect Resistance
- Senepol have a greater immune response compared to other beef breeds. This fact has been largely attributed to the N’Dama influence. N’Dama cattle are highly resistant to the Tsetse fly, a carrier of the disease Bovine Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness). This trait is of importance in Australia where Buffalo fly is prevalent.
Slick coat gene
- An identified gene (Sk – Dr Tim Olsen) confers a very short haired, sleek coat when an animal carries a copy of the gene. To date Senepol is the only breed available in Australia that is known to be a carrier of this gene.
- The gene is associated with the heat tolerance of the Senepol breed.
- Smooth coated animals in tick infested country will carry less tick burden than hairy coated animals. The natural licking (grooming) process, as well as the animal’s inherent tick resistance, greatly reduces tick larvae from maturing. The Senepol and its slick haired crosses, from field counts conducted in Queensland, appears to have a very high level of genetic tick resistance.
Senepol offers crossbreeders excellent hybrid vigour from a tropically adapted Taurine breed, with a genetic package which ahs not been subjected to unbalanced ‘single trait’ selection. Senepol admirably complement tropical beef production where traditionally Bos Indicus derived breeds have been used. Senepol are the ideal Bos Taurus for crossbreeding with British & European breeds in hotter country and for use in the development of tropical composite herds.
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