Origin and distribution: The cattle from which Ruzizi cattle originated were brought to western and southern Uganda by Hamitic tribes migrating from northeastern Africa and possibly the Sahel in the 13th and 15th centuries. The Ruzizi cattle are a strain of the Ankole group of cattle, Watusi breed (Epstein 1957). Tutsi (Watusi) people arrived with their massive horned Ankole cattle in present-day Rwanda and Burundi around the 14th century. They are considered to be the best developed Watusi cattle (Rege and Tawah 1999). They inhabit the Ruzizi valley and in the mountains to the west of the Ruzizi river between Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganika, near the border of the DR Congo with Rwanda and Burundi.

Physical characteristics: Average adult live weight in bulls exceeds 500 kg. The coat is brown, often lightened to a bay shade, while red, red-and-white and black-and-white animals also occur. They have a very small cervico-thoracic hump. The horns are long and sickle- or lyre-shaped.

Peculiarity: Their long sickle- or lyre-shaped horns, very small cervico-thoracic hump and their coat colour (usually brown but red, red-and-white and black-and-white) are the special characteristics (DAGRIS 2005).

Breed status: The breed in Burundi is under vulnerable category due to conflict and crossbreeding/interbreeding. Their risk status in Rwanda and DR Congo is unknown.

Utility: The breed is raised mainly for milk and meat. Performance data for this breed is not available.


DAGRIS, 2005:

Epstein H. 1971. The origin of the domestic animals of Africa Volume I. Africana Publishing Corporation. New York. London. Munich.

Rege J.E.O. and Tawah C.L. 1999. The state of African cattle genetic resources II. Geographical distributions, characteristics and uses of present-day breeds and strains. FAO/UNEP Animal Genetic Resources Information Bulletin26:1-26.

Related Literature

Felius M. 1995. Cattle breeds: an encyclopedia.Misset. Doetinchem (The Netherlands). 799 p.

Mason I.L. and Maule J.P. 1960. The indigenous livestock of eastern and Southern Africa. Common wealth Agricultural Bureaux. Farnham Royal, Bucks, England. pp. 25-29.

Maule J.P. 1990. The cattle of the tropics. Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh. Redwood Press Limited, Melksham, Wilts. pp. 69-70.

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