We have got to know various members of the Urban Herd quite well over the years and have even named the more familiar among them. Before I return to them let me introduce you to an interesting South African breed of cattle called Bonsmara. Here are a few on a cattle farm in the Lothians area.

These reddish-looking cattle are the result of an extensive scientific breeding programme conducted by Professor Jan Bonsma from the Department of Agriculture to produce cattle that are well adapted to a sub-tropical climate; that will calve every year; and will produce good quality beef. The name is a combination of the name of the professor and ‘Mara’, the experimental farm on which they were bred. They animals have the attributes of both Bos indicus and Bos Taurus. Why this should make any difference I don’t know, but in order to conform to breed standards these cattle have to be de-horned!

Back to the Urban Herd. Look at the lovely shape of the horns on a cow we call The Master Hooter.

There are some interesting aspects about her, one of which you may have noticed is that, apart from an identifying notch in her ear, there is also a hole. Perhaps too many other cows have simple notches, although the pattern on the hide of this one is distinctive.

The other is that at some stage she lost the tuft at the end of her tail. The Urban Herd wander all over town and beyond, so who knows – it may have been grabbed by a dog or caught in a fence …

At this stage she and her companions are grazing along the road of our ‘industrial area’ on the edge of town. Behind her is a calf, sired no doubt by the Arctic Bull – who has sowed his wild oats across many of the Urban Herd cows!

Wait! Did you spot something interesting on the back of that calf? It looks equally interested and I felt ecstatic:

Red-billed Oxpeckers! How very exciting it is to spot these so close to home!

Cattle Egrets are the more usual companions of the Urban Herd, wherever they happen to wander.

Lastly, here is The Master Hooter’s Sister:


    • That is interesting. We have a number of Scottish-based names in this part of the Eastern Cape, largely thanks to the 1820 Settlers. The road I often drive out on in the Lothian district is referred to as the Highlands road 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • The three old counties surrounding the capital city were East, Mid and West Lothian. During a local-government shake up years ago, instead of having three separate County Councils these then came under the the “unitary authority” of Lothian Region.

        I guess those settlers wanted to hold onto something from their homeland…


        Liked by 1 person

  1. I love the patterns on the hide of nguni cattle, together with their sweeping horns.
    And to find oxpeckers on your urban herd, apart from the fact that they very interesting birds, is a really good sign that the use of poisons that trickle through the entire ecosystem, humans included, are slowly being abandoned.


    • There was a time when this was not allowed here either … politics … one has to embrace some changes or be unhappy for ever. I have grown rather fond of the various sections of the Urban Herd as I call them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very handsome markings, and it is a pity about dehorning. It is usually done by cauterization and it does hurt them initially. I’ve heard them bellow – poor things. 😦


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