Having looked at this adult animal once, it is easy to guess how the Watussi bull differs from other breeds. The species has the largest horns in the world among other artiodactyls, which can reach a length from tip to tip of 2.4 meters. In the cow kingdom, these bright representatives of the fauna are deservedly called "bulls of kings", and in ancient times they were considered sacred. The history of the origin of the breed is interesting, as well as the importance of Wattusi bulls to humans in antiquity and their place in the modern world.
Description of watussi
This exotic breed of cows originated from Africa, the inhabitants of Rounda and Burundi call it watussi, and the neighboring Ugandan tribes of Nkole gave the name to the horned bulls "ankole". The Tutsi tribe calls this breed in its own way - "inyambo", which means "a cow with very long horns". In many regions of Africa, representatives of this species are still considered sacred to this day.
There are two versions of the emergence of ankole-watusi bulls:
- according to the first version, indigenous Africans claim that watussi is an independent breed that arose 6 thousand years ago, the progenitor of which was an ancient relict bull (tur);
- according to the second version, the breed is 4 thousand years old, and its progenitors are primitive wild tours (Bos taurus), which came to Africa from the banks of the Nile, Indian humpbacked zebu bulls and Egyptian cows.
In fact, as genetic studies show, the truth lies somewhere in between. In the genes of modern watussi bulls, traces of both wild rounds and an Egyptian cow and an Indian bull have been found.
Whoever was the ancestor of the breed, the main feature of the species is the huge horns: it is for them that it is valued. By the way, if the watussi bull is deprived of its pride - horny outgrowths, it will absolutely not differ from the rest of the representatives of the cow kingdom.
The distance between the tips of the horns of an adult, on average, is about 1.5 m. However, in a good pasture and with proper care, it can reach 2.4 - 3.7 meters. Bulls with cylindrical or lyre-shaped horns are especially appreciated. Males of the Watussi breed, on average, weigh 600 - 700 kg, females - 450 - 550 kg, which is slightly inferior to the ancient wild tour, whose weight reached 800 kg and even more. The height of the cow reaches 170 cm, its body length is approximately 2.5 - 2.6 m. The watussi bull usually lives for 27 - 30 years.
The greater the distance between the tips of the horns and the wider they are at the base, the more valuable the animal. The lucky owner of the most beautiful "crown" is given the sacred status and title of the king of the herd. Previously, such bulls were given to a herd belonging to the king, who had only the best representatives of the breed. However, the payment for this situation is heavy, because the weight of one horn ranges from 45 to 50 kg, and it is not easy to wear such a "decoration".
Interesting fact: On May 6, 2003, a bull of the Watussi Larch breed (Lurch) got into the Guinness Book of Records, which wore horns with a diameter of 2.5 m and weighing 45 kg each on its head.
The horns of ankole-watussi bulls have not only a decorative function: they serve as a kind of air conditioner, with the help of which the body temperature of the animal is regulated. This is due to the blood vessels that permeate the horny growths that are hollow inside: the blood circulating in them is cooled by the air stream and spreads further throughout the body, preventing the animal from overheating. This is very important for bulls, since the African climate is very hot: the air temperature in the shade often reaches +50 degrees Celsius. That is why the animals with the largest horns are considered the most valuable. After all, they are better than others adapted to the climate, which means they are more tenacious and have a higher chance of giving good offspring.
Despite the fact that the historical homeland of watussi bulls is Africa, this breed quickly became widespread throughout the world, due to its unpretentiousness in food and maintenance, as well as good adaptability to climatic conditions.
After 1960, Ankole Watusi were bred in America, where the breed quickly spread throughout the continent. The population of American watussi bulls is about 1,500.
On the territory of the post-Soviet space, vatussi cows can be found in the Crimea and in the Askania-Nova nature reserve. In addition, many zoos in the world want to get themselves this handsome bull, which is not so easy. Africa remains the main habitat of the rare breed.
In wild natural conditions, the watussi bull lives and grazes in the open territories of steppes, fields and savannahs. The climate in Africa is hot, which does not contribute to excessive mobility of animals due to the risk of overheating. Therefore, even bulls of this breed are distinguished by a calm disposition and show aggression only during the mating season, in the form of fights and attempts to defend their right to reproduce. Otherwise, both wild and, especially, domesticated animals are slow and calm.
Since the vegetation is rather scarce in the vastness of hot Africa, the watussi cows had to adapt to the local feeding conditions. They are able to digest and extract all the nutrients from literally any vegetation they find. An adult bull needs to eat up to 100 kg of feed, a cow slightly less - up to 60 - 70 kg. Therefore, these artiodactyls do not disdain even the most meager and coarse food, squeezing everything out of it.
It is the ability to adapt to harsh climatic conditions, the ability to do without water for a long time and be content with poor food that made this breed so popular among the peoples inhabiting Africa.
Unlike their progenitor, Watussi cows have very good genetics, which contributes to the constant preservation of their original kind. In males and females, puberty occurs simultaneously, by about 6 to 9 months. Gobies are ready for mating games at any time, but in heifers this period directly depends on the sexual cycle. Often this time occurs in early spring, when the rainy season comes and ends closer to mid-May. After 9 - 11 months of pregnancy, the Watussi cow gives birth to one or two calves weighing 17 to 23 kg.
Huge horns make this breed invulnerable to almost any predator and, if necessary, able to fend for itself. Watussi cows are distinguished by a well-developed maternal instinct and very jealously guard their offspring. At night, the whole herd drives the young to the center, and the adult bulls are located in a circle, protecting the calves from possible danger with their powerful weapon - horns.
Role in human life
Since the watussi bull was considered and is still a sacred animal in many African tribes, the breed is not bred for meat. On the contrary, the owner's wealth is measured by the number of healthy livestock.
Since ancient times, these cows have been used as a source of milk, and due to the fact that the breed does not differ in a special milk yield (only about 1.5 thousand liters per cow per year), a special milk technology was invented, which increases the productivity of cows.
During the day, the cow is isolated from the herd: she grazes separately. And only in the evening and in the morning she is admitted to the calf, which is allowed to drink only a few sips. This stimulates more milk production, however, the young are suffering and, in fact, are on a starvation diet. Therefore, it is not surprising that only a small percentage of calves, the strongest and strongest, survive, and the rest simply die from malnutrition and disease. This barbaric way of the African tribes to increase milk yield caused the population of the Watussi breed to gradually but inexorably decline.
In addition, Africans use this breed of cows for bloodletting, consuming blood mixed with milk daily as a tonic and energizing nutritious protein drink. In some tribes, it is believed that the blood of the sacred cow Watussi is endowed with some mystical properties that give the person who drank it supernatural strength and endurance. Thus, one adult animal must unwittingly share with its owner about four liters of blood per month.
These cows, giving their milk and blood, became a real salvation for African aborigines, an opportunity to maintain human vitality and prevent them from dying in especially difficult times.
If you look at the breeding of watussi bulls from the point of view of European or Russian livestock raising, then the breed does not represent any special industrial value. Rather, it is an exotic species of cows that cannot boast of special milk yield.
The African bull Watussi, which has incredibly beautiful and majestic horns, unfortunately, is gradually losing its population. And, first of all, this is due to the savage way of increasing the amount of milk yield, which is adopted among African aborigines. However, nature reserves in America and Europe are trying to maintain the number of this species of bulls so that the majestic animals do not disappear from the face of our planet forever.https: //www.youtube.com/watch? V = avkyjWe37rc