The Ankole cows are known to have originated from Egypt where they reared for milk and meat. They were crossed with the Zebu cattle from India to produce thee Sanga. The Sanga became the parent stock from which most African breeds originate. The Ankole cow therefore belongs to the Sanga family. The Sanga has the typical Zebu characteristics including pendulous dewlap and sheath, upturned horns and a neck hump of variable size. The Sanga varieties are found in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. The original Sanga cattle are still kept in Ghana and Zambezi regions. These cows are known to have reached Uganda through Ethiopia.
Ankole cows in Uganda
Ankole longhorn Cows which are mainly reared in parts of Mbarara Isingiro, Ibanda, Ntugamo, Bushenyi and Kiruhura located in western Uganda. The e cows are known for their distinctive horns that can reach up to 2.4 m or 8 feet from tip to tip. The horns are used by cows for defense purposes. The mature cows have live weight ranging from 410 to 730 kg. The cows mainly eat grass and leaves with supplement of local salt and are grazed in open grazing areas. Ankole cows were traditional reared by herdsmen through moving from one place to another looking for good pastures and water.
The weight of the newborn calves’ ranges from 14 to 23 kgs and this low birth-weight makes Ankole bulls useful for cross breeding with first-calf-heifers of other breeds.
Significance of Ankole Cattle
These cows were considered sacred by the local cattle keepers because the owners whole depended on them. The cattle also provided food in the form of meat and milk for domestic consumption. The cows were a source of cash and they also gave the owner a special status in society. The person with many animals was considered as wealthy. The Ankole cattle were therefore significant for the following reasons;
- It is source of food in terms of meat, milk and milk by-products
- Source of cash for the owners.
- They are status symbol in society
- Used for traditional functions like payment of dowry
- It is the most valuable gift you can give someone.
- Skins from cows are used for clothing and decoration.
- Cow dung in used as organic manure in banana plantations and smearing houses.
- Urine of cows and cow dung are believed by locals to contain medicinal values
- Horns are used for decorations and various purposes