Recommended Nigerian Cattle Breeds for Smallholder Dairy (Milk) Production

There are three types of cattle breed. They are Beef Cattle Breeds; Dairy Cattle Breeds; and Dual Purpose Breeds. Beef Cattle are raised or bred mainly for meat (beef) production. Dairy Cattle are raised or bred mainly for milk production. Dual Purpose Cattle are raised or bred for both beef and milk production.

The objective of this post is to review and discuss the local dairy cattle breeds in Nigeria. That is to say, the different cattle breeds in Nigeria that interested dairy cattle farmers can raise or breed to start production of dairy milk. Though there are numerous exotic dairy cattle breeds known for producing quality and high volume of milk that Nigerian dairy farmers can breed for milk production, smallholder farmers will little amount of money can take advantage of the local dairy cattle in Nigeria.

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There are two major local dairy cattle breeds in Nigeria. They are:

  1. Sokoto Gudali
  2. Bunaji (White Fulani)

Physical Characteristics of Sokoto Gudali

Sokoto Gudali cattle are one of the cattle breeds that are native and predominate to Nigeria. They are popular for their black and white coat colors with a light underside, and there are a few others with multiple coating. Sokoto Gudali has a deeper body and short horns. They have a long and wide head, straight or slightly convex face and long, large and convex ears. Their humps are thoracic in position.

Adult male Sokoto Gudali cattle have heights that ranging from 130cm to 138cm. The females have heights ranging from 116cm to 132cm. The adult males weigh between 495kg and 660kg while the adult female weighs between 240kg and 355kg. Other productive performances of Sokoto Gudali are as follows:

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Age at first calving: 38½ – 49½ months
Calving interval: 378 – 537 days
Milk yield: 4 – 5kg per day

Physical Characteristics of Bunaji (White Fulani)

Bunaji, also referred to as White Fulani cattle, are owned by the Fulani people. They have a white coat colour, black eye, ears, muzzle, tail tip and hooves. They have well-developed dewlaps and humps. They also have long and wide heads and straight or concave face.

The adults have an average height of 130cm. Adult bulls weigh between 325kg and 665kg, while adult cows weigh between 250kg and 350kg. Other productive performances of Sokoto Gudali are as follows:

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Age at first calving: 40 – 49 months
Average calving interval: 403 days
Milk yield: 2.5 – 3kg per day

White fulani cattle

Both Sokoto Gudali and Bunaji are poor milk producers when compared to breeds like Holstein Friesian, Brown Swiss, Jersey and Ayrshire. Hence, they are not recommended for medium or large scale dairy production, but for only smallholder dairy production. Both breeds (Sokoto Gudali and Bunaji) can be bred for meat and milk production.

Do you have questions or comments regarding these two cattle breeds? Drop them in the comment box below.

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