Beef Production in South Africa

©Glenneis Kriel
Hereford cattle produced near Villiersdorp in the Western Cape.

South Africa has a rich heritage of beef production, with cattle being used in the past and even today to measure people’s wealth and in some cultures to pay a bride price, called lobola. Production takes place almost across the country, with different breeds being suited to different climatic conditions and areas.

There is also a large variety of farmers, ranging from subsistence to large commercial producers and breeders.

Afrikaner Cattle

Thanks to the breed’s ability to tolerate a wide range of climatic conditions and its excellent ability to thrive on even poor quality veld, Afrikaner cattle are produced throughout South Africa, as well as in some of our neighbouring countries...more

Angus Beef

Aberdeen Angus, internationally known as Angus, was one of the first cattle breeds exclusively bred for beef production....more

Ankole Cattle

The Ankole can be traced back to the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians and has formed part of the longhorn cattle tribes for more than 6 000 years....more

Beefmaster Cattle

Tom Lasater, who ranched in South Texas and in Colorado in the USA, developed the Beefmaster in 1948 through strategic cross-breeding of Brahman, Hereford and Shorthorn....more

Bonsmara Beef

Bonsmara has over time become the most produced beef breed in South Africa, accounting for between 50% and 60% of the total commercial beef herd. The Bonsmara Breeders Society boasted over 130 000 registered cattle in 2019....more

Boran Cattle

The Boran breed developed more than a thousand years ago, from the native short-horned cattle of the Borana people of southern Ethiopia....more

Brahman Cattle

The Brahman is the first cattle breed to have been developed in the United States. European breeds struggled to reach their full genetic potential under the harsh climatic and veld conditions of states, such as California, Louisiana and Texas....more

Braunvieh Cattle

The Braunvieh, named after the brown colour of its coats, is one of the oldest and purest cattle breeds, with records dating as far back as 800 BC....more

Charolais Cattle

The Charolais, one of the oldest of several French cattle breeds, is thought to have originated in the Jura mountains of Eastern France....more

Drakensberger Cattle

Drakensberger cattle developed out of the black indigenous cattle of South Africa. As early as 2 December 1497, Vasco da Gama mentioned the "fat, black ox" that he obtained in a trade....more

Hereford Cattle

The origin of the Hereford breed is uncertain, but the breed seems to have developed from draught oxen descended from the small red cattle of Roman Briton and a large Welsh breed....more

Limousin Cattle

The Limousin cattle breed take their name from their region of origin, Limousin, in Southern France....more

Nguni Cattle

Nguni cattle are produced throughout South Africa thanks to their hardiness and ability to thrive on poor quality veld. The fact that it can tolerate high temperatures, bodes that it may play an increasingly important role in future meat production...more

Santa Gertrudis Cattle

The Santa Gertrudis are medium framed cattle in South Africa, with mature cows weighing around 530 kg and bulls weighing about 900 kg or more. Cows have strong maternal traits, producing small calves that grow above average...more

Shorthorn Cattle

As seen on The Cattle Site, the brothers Charles and Robert Colling, used line breeding techniques to improve their herd and by 1810, one of their bulls, called Comet, was the first-ever bull to be sold for 1 000 guineas....more

Simbra Cattle

The Simbra is a relatively new breed of cattle, developed in the 1960s, in America, when professional breeders selectively crossed Simmentalers with Brahmans, to produce a “package” of the best of these breeds....more

Simmentaler Cattle

The Simmentaler breed seems to have developed around the Middle Ages, from a cross between German cattle and a smaller indigenous Swiss breed....more

Sussex Cattle

The Sussex cattle breed is one of the oldest and purest breeds of English cattle. According to The Cattle Site, it is thought to have descended from the horned red cows once found throughout much of southern England...more

Tuli Cattle

The Tuli is a “fertile, profitable, range cattle”, as per the Tuli Cattle Breeders Society of South Africa logo. The Tuli forms part of the Sanga group, which according to DNA tests have existed for over 2000 years....more

Wagyu Beef

The word Wagyu means “Japanese cow” and, as the name suggests, refers to a couple of cattle breeds that originate in Japan....more