Hardy breed named Musi at unveiling

A composite breed of cattle suitable for Botswana's arid conditions was unveiled at Palla Road near Mahalapye on Monday.

Named Musi after the place where the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) began the process of selective breeding that resulted in this hardy beast 29 years ago, it is hoped that the composite breed with lead to increased beef production.Musi the place lies 25 kilometres south of Good Hope towards Phitshane-Molopo,
Speaking at the launch, Dr Lobisa Setshwaelo, said the objective of the research was to find a genetic material that could perform like crossbreeds already found in Botswana and well above the indigenous Tswana breed while retaining the hardiness and adaptability of the native stock in one package.

"The proportions of the selected breeds in the Musi breed were designed to ultimately optimise the overall efficiency for beef production under Botswana conditions," Setshwelo said.

"The impact of climate change on extensive production systems now requires that livestock breeds should have high tolerance and adaptability to more challenging environmental conditions.

"I believe that these are the qualities livestock producers in Botswana will be looking for and will find in this new breed, given the harsh environment of Musi Ranch, on the margins of the desert, where the breed was developed."

Botswana's first genetically-controlled offering is a cross between Tswana, Tuli, Brahman, Bonsmara and Simmental. The Tswana was selected for hardiness and adaptability to the country's arid environment, while the Tuli was selected for its high fertility rates.

Brahman was chosen for high growth rates and low birth weights to reduce dystocia or calving difficulties. The Bonsmara was selected for the size of its dam line to reduce calving difficulties and for its high maternal ability, while Simmental was selected for very high growth rates and maternal ability because of its high milk production.

Setshwelo said recent figures published by DAR showed that the breed was performing well in communal farming and in ranches. "The ranch performance figures are very much comparable to those predicted in 1981," she said.There are 600 Musi cattle nationwide currently, the majority of them in DAR ranches across the country.

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