In the year 1800, N’Dama Cattle (a Bos Taurus), was imported from Senegal to St. Croix. This breed, after remaining for centuries in Senegal, had developed resistance against heat and parasites. In 1918, the N’Dama breed was mixed with Red Poll, in order to obtain a breed with better maternal instincts, earlier sexual maturity and with absence of horns; by 1940 the Senepol breed had been established as a pure breed.
Outstanding characteristics of the Senepol breed:
- Grazes during the hottest time of the day
- Does not get tired after a day of work
- Able to survive several days without water
USDA research establishes the cooler temperatures maintained by Senepol compared to Brahman, Angus and Hereford cows while grazing during the summer months in Florida. The same study revealed that F1 Senepol calves (both Hereford-sired out of Senepol cows, and Senepol-sired out of Hereford cows) maintained rectal temperatures almost identical to full blood Senepol. Senepol posses heat tolerance, and they pass it on in crossbreeding programs.
Grazing studies performed at the USDA Subtropical Research Station, Brooksville, Fla., during a two summers time period concluded that Senepol grazed an average of 10.7 hours per day as compared to 9.3 hours a day for Hereford cattle – a grazing advantage of 1.4 hours/day. This adds to Senepol’s advantage in foraging ability and easy-fleshing traits.
Gentle by nature, intelligent and easy to handle
- Calves without assistance under tropical conditions
- Birth weight average between 29 to 36 kilograms (65 to 80 lbs.)
- Produce 11.3 kilograms (25 lbs.) of milk per day
- 268 days of lactation
Senepol cows are moderate-sized, and exhibit excellent fleshing and foraging ability. Mature cows average 1000 to 1,200 lbs., and consistently wean off 50% or better of their body weight while maintaining an efficient calving interval.
- They reproduce at 2 to 3 years, at 12 month intervals
- They have 13 to 15 calves during their lifetime
- Early maturity, compared to other tropical cattle
- At eight months, weight is 236 kilograms (500 lbs.)
- Between 12 and 14 months, weight is 364 to 386 kilograms (800 to 850 pounds)
USDA research indicates that Senepol have greater immunity when compared to other beef breeds.
USDA research indicates that Senepol have greater immunity when compared to other beef breeds. This is due greatly to the N’Dama influence in Senepol, and is also aided by generations of natural selection being applied on the island of St. Croix.
15 to 20 years production.
Cattleman who visit St. Croix for the first time are continually amazed at the number of 15 to 20 year-old cows that are still in production. Often overlooked, perhaps no characteristic is as “multiple-trait” oriented, or as meaningful to the overall profitability of a cow-calf operator as longevity.
Senepol are similar to Angus in calving ease and light birth weights. The huge advantage they offer is tremendous calf vigor. Breeders everywhere are proud of the increased survival of Senepol-sired calves because they jump up and nurse quickly.
Senepol and Senepol-cross steers have excelled repeatedly in Nebraska, Colorado, Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas panhandle feedlots.
For example, Jim Barron’s Spur Headquarters Ranch fed more than 2,000 F1 Senepool-cross steers. With 146 days on feed, the collective averages were; death loss of 0.28%, ADG of 3.62 lbs./day and dry matter conversion of 6.74 lbs. Feed / lb gain.