The Ankole-Watusi is one you may have seen on a documentary of some sort at one stage. The Breed is probably best known for the very large horns which grow from it's head.
There are no exact origins, but there has been mentions of the long horned cattle of the same descriptions as far back as 4000BC. These long horned beasts had already established themselves in the Nile Valley at this time, in fact they even appear in photographs of Egyptian pyramids. These have been named as the direct descendants of the Ankole Watusi. Therefore their ancestry traces back over 6,000 years.
In the 2000 years to follow this Egyptian descendant of the Ankole Watusi migrated to Ethiopia and then further down the continent. By then the animal had met up with the Longhorn Zebu, which had made its way to the continent from Pakistan and India.
These two, similar breeds, mated to form the Ankole-Watusi and spread from India and Pakistan into Africa and Europe.
Other varying reports suggest the official Ankole-Watusi breed originates a cross of the above mentioned bovine and from an Ankole type of bovine imported into Germany as a zoo specimen back in the 12th century. This led to the breed spreading throughout European zoo, before they eventually made their way into the US. The first herd in America was started in 1960, with an international registry set up in 1983. According to a census carried out in 2016, in total there is approximately 1,500 head of the breed, with 80% of these found in the US.
As mentioned above the perhaps standing characteristic of the breed is their long horns. The Ankole-Watusi is a modern American breed of domestic cattle. It derives from the Ankole group of Sanga cattle breeds found in central Africa.
The breed are usually red in colour, but can also be found in many varying colours. They can be found with spotted colours or solids. As mentioned above they have huge horns, which are wide spread. Their horns are the largest found in any of the world's cattle breeds, with the biggest ever recorded a whopping 40.7 inches.
The Ankole-Watusi are known as the show stoppers of the bovine world. They are medium sized animals, but tend to catch the eye whenever their nearby. They have often been dubbed as the "cattle of kings".
They are widely known to be elegant and graceful cattle, with a straight topline and a sloping rump. They also have a neck hump, usually. They are usually medium sized, with an average cow weighing up to 545 kgs, while bulls can weigh as much as 730 kgs. Newborn calves generally weigh between 13-22kgs at birth. This is another reason why the breed is useful, with bulls being used to breed first calf heifers of different breed types.
Calves tend sleep together, with an "auntie" cow for protection. At night all the herd-members sleep together, with the calves in the center of the group for protection. The horns of the adults serve as protection against any intruders.
Ankole-Watusi can tolerate temperature and weather extremes well, due to them originating from warmer climates. Their large horns act as radiators, with blood circulating through the horn area cooled and then returned to the main body. This allows excess body heat to be dispersed and means they can adapt to most climates with ease.
Easy calvers, well able to protect themselves and the undisputed champion of cattle horns, it's easy to see why the Ankole-Watusi is the "cattle of kings".