Bred for Resilience: The Tuli Cattle of Zimbabwe

Dynamic, robust, and unwavering – such are the qualities attributed to the Tuli breed by Kerry Stewart, who manages the LZ Stud near Gwanda in southern Zimbabwe. Originating in Zimbabwe, the Tuli breed was specifically developed to thrive in challenging climatic conditions. Stewart, having grown up with the breed, emphasizes its adaptability to the intense sunlight of the region.

Medium-framed and coming in red, gold, ivory, and dun coat colors, the Tuli’s sleek, shiny coats contribute to their ability to withstand the harsh Zimbabwean climate. Developed in relative isolation, the Tuli boasts a unique genetic makeup, neither strictly Bos taurus nor B. indicus, making it highly successful in cross-breeding programs and producing hybrid vigor along with polled calves.

Stewart, who took over her family’s Tuli stud in 2014, extols the breed’s inherent capacity to excel in the demanding African conditions. Despite also managing herds of Sussex, Beefmaster, and Jersey, she asserts that the Tuli stands out for its calving ease, fertility, and adaptability to varying climatic conditions.

Describing the Tuli as a medium-framed, all-round beef animal with an even temperament, Stewart highlights its tick resistance and ability to walk long distances without losing condition. The breed’s short and smooth coat acts as a deterrent to ticks, while their outstanding mothering ability ensures calf protection against predators.

The Tuli’s toughness is attributed to years of natural selection in the region, maintaining good beef quality. Len Harvey, in the 1940s, initiated the development of the Tuli breed by selecting the healthiest specimens from the local Sanga breed in Zimbabwe. In 1955, the Tuli was registered as a Zimbabwean indigenous breed, and Harvey received recognition for his contribution to agriculture.

Stud breeders like Doug Follwell from Ntunteni and Keith Kaschula from Nuanetsi Ranch affirm the financial sense of Tulis due to low maintenance, outstanding tick resistance, and premium fertility. Kaschula notes the Tuli’s superiority in extensive farming conditions, coping well with long-distance walking and maintaining condition during tough periods.

Tulis, with their indiscriminate grazing habits, prove ideal for harsh environments, producing more calves per unit for small-scale farmers. Stewart emphasizes the importance of fitting cattle to the environment, stating that the Tuli’s adaptability makes financial sense, especially during drought years.

Phil Reed, running the Anivai Tuli Stud, notes a preference for Tulis over other breeds at sales due to their early maturity and quick reconception, offering a quicker return on investment. Other breeders like Chris Johnston and his son Oscar from Jambo Tuli stud attest to the Tuli’s fertility, adaptability, and hardiness over the past 55 years.

In conclusion, the Tuli breed, with its unique genetic makeup and adaptability to challenging conditions, continues to garner praise from breeders in Zimbabwe, proving its worth in various agricultural settings and cross-breeding programs worldwide.

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