Afrikaner Breeding Society Centenary
The Afrikaner Breeding Society recently celebrated 100 years in South Africa.
The history of Afrikaner cattle in South Africa is an interesting one and is closely associated with the history of the country’s people. These typical Box indicus animals, the most important of our indigenous breeds, were the first cattle encountered by Jan van Riebeeck shortly after he had arrived at the Cape. Little is known about the origins of the breed. The most likely theory is that, in its most primitive state, it originated on the steppes of Asia from the wild cattle of that time. Since then, it had descended from the lateral-horned Zebu without any infusion of foreign blood.
This hardy, no-nonsense breed has a number of outstanding traits, its value in cross-breeding programmes being particularly appreciated.
About 2 000 years ago it crossed into Africa from Aden and gradually migrated southwards during successive centuries, with only the animals best adapted to arid desert conditions, extreme heat, tropical diseases and both internal and external parasites finally reaching the southern tip of the continent. As long ago as the 15th century, Portuguese sailors reported that the Hottentots in the south-western region of the country already owned herds of these cattle.
However, South African cattle farmers began to appreciate the Afrikaner’s outstanding qualities only in about 1912. Then, largely due to the efforts of Alex Holm, Director of the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture and a champion of the breed, a studbook was formed so that planned breeding could take place for controlling the breed’s development into the Afrikaner we know today. Not many people are aware that, some years earlier, the breed was almost exterminated when huge numbers died of rinderpest or were destroyed during the South African War. As a direct result, various exotic breeds were imported, mainly from Britain and Europe, to build up the country’s depleted cattle numbers.
KEPT STOCK PURE
Although considerable interbreeding occurred at the time, some breeders, to their credit, succeeded in keeping their Afrikaner stock pure, ensuring the continued existence of this hardy breed.
Prominent among these breeders were Jozef du Plessis of Rietfontein Farm, Kroonstad, who kept his herd intact. Others who started to build up their purebred herds included the well-known Malan, Pieterse, Ras, De Wet, Lubbe, Greyling, Van Biljon and Jordaan families, all of whom played a significant part in the development and distribution of the breed.
For more on The Afrikaner Breeding Society go to http://www.afrikanerbees.com