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Breed Information | Senepol SA

Breed Information

The Senepol is a red, Bos Taurus animal with the following characteristics:


The Senepol is naturally polled (hornless). This is a very desirable trait, since it reduces labour requirements, impacts positively on management of the herd and limits bruising of the carcass in feedlots or off the veld. When bred to other, horned breeds, the Senepol heredity will ensure that most of the progeny are also polled.


The Senepol is one of the very few Bos Taurus breed that has the heat tolerance necessary for efficient beef production in hot regions. The Senepol’s short red coat presents a striking sight as they graze in the noonday heat while other breeds seek the shelter of shade. Research done by the USDA has established that Senepol cattle maintain cooler body temperatures than most other breeds, which in turn leads to the Senepol grazing, on average, approximately 1 1/4 hours longer per day.

During very hot summer conditions one may notice that rosette-like “patterns” appear along the back of Senepol cattle. This is a natural occurrence due to the efficiently functioning baggy sweat glands that reduce the body temperature of the animal.


American USDA research has indicated that Senepol cattle have greater immunity when compared with other breeds. This is due to the N’Dama influence and the natural selection that was applied in the development of the Senepol on the island of St. Croix. Furthermore, Senepol herds rarely experience pink-eye or cancer of the eye.

The short, fine coat ensures that the Senepol carries fewer external parasites such as ticks. This fact has been verified by Senepol breeders from across South Africa.


The Senepol’s genetic make-up from two Bos Taurus breeds has resulted in a reproductively efficient animal. Veterinarians have report that Senepol females have a straight cervix which makes A.I. easier. Senepol females exhibit good, visible signs of oestrus and when flushed, the average yield per Senepol cow is 6.5 usable embryos.

Senepol bulls are aggressive breeders with excellent scrotal circumference. Most bulls produce top quality semen by the age of 12 to 14 months. The penile sheath is neat which helps avoid breeding pasture injuries that often result from excessively pendulous sheaths.


Senepol cows are generally of medium frame and possess the innate mothering and milking ability to rear their calves well. Average adult cow size is roughly between 499-544kg, with cows often weaning off calves in excess of 50% of their body weight while maintaining an efficient calving interval.Cows have neat, well-attached udders with good teats and teat placement which ensures longevity in the cow herd. Many cows remain productive in the herd until they are 15-18 years old.

Senepol cattle are early maturing, making it possible for replacement heifers to calve at two years of age.


Senepol cattle are known for their ease of calving and light birth weights. Actual birth weights of over 400 full blood Senepol calves in the U.S.A. taken on the day of calving showed an average of 31kg. Their generally quick deliveries prevent calf bruising and/or restricted oxygen to the brain and result in excellent vigor of Senepol calves.


Since the very early stages of the development of the Senepol breed, animals have been strictly selected for ease of handling and docile temperament.

The docile temperament of the Senepol is passed on to their progeny when used in cross breeding programmes.


Senepol cattle are ideal for use in most cross breeding programmes due to their strong heredity factor. Between 80% and 100% of Senepol cross calves will be polled and show the typical Senepol characteristics. They have performed so well in crossbreeding programs that many cattlemen call the Senepol the universal cross-breeding animal.

American USDA research on Senepol cross animals has shown heterosis levels of 5.4% for birth weight, 6.2% for weaning weight, and 6.4% for gain per day, surpassing the 3-4% level normally expected in Bos Taurus/Bos Taurus crosses.


Senepol cattle have done well, and won, a number of slaughter competitions in South Africa. Most recently Senepol beef received rave reviews from some of the judges, including Canadian beef specialist, Mark Schatzker, at the Ultimate Beef Challenge. Australian research indicated the presence of the, much sought after, tenderness gene in Senepol beef.