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How to register with the Society as a Mashona Breeder
email helenlock21@gmail.com to apply for Membership of the Mashona Cattle Society.
Then, through the Society, you can apply to become a registered stud breeder with
Zimbabwe Herd Book.
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For more information about this,
download the documents at right:
ZHB Members Guide Oct 2021

Summary of ZHB Breeders Requirements Oct 2021

At our AGM in December 2021, Professor John Lawrence gave a very informative presentation on Theileriosis.
Livestock Today Magazine published this article, reporting back on his presentation. Click below to download the article. We thank Livestock Today for sharing this:

Livestock Today: "Control and treatment of Theileriosis
to reduce cattle deaths" (Prof John Lawrence report back).

To see photos of our Field Day hosted at Gombola Farm in late 2021, go to our NEWS page!
Established in 1950, for over 70 years The Mashona Cattle Society has worked
to preserve, promote and improve the hardy Mashona cattle breed.

Today, this amazing indigenous breed of cattle, unique to Zimbabwe, has earned its rightful place on the world stage of livestock genetic heritage, for its resilience and productivity under difficult climatic and production conditions.  The potential to use this, our own Zimbabwean breed, in cross-breeding on other continents in response to the challenge of climate change, is now well-recognised.

For centuries, Mashona cattle have provided meat, milk, tillage and manure in Zimbabwe’s rural areas.  Fully adapted to its tough environment, this is one of the world's hardiest, most productive breeds. Established in scientific trials spanning decades as the most productive cattle breed in Zimbabwe, the Mashona is proving its worth in commercial beef production on this continent, and is now the baseline breed for cattle evaluation in Zimbabwe, against which the survivability, fertility and performance of all other cattle are measured.

This resilient breed was brought back from near extinction by The Mashona Cattle Society, which campaigned to preserve it from massive, misguided genetic dilution. Our dedicated breeders ceaselessly continue in their efforts to develop genetically pure, stronger, more productive Mashona Cattle, thus contributing to improved farmer livelihoods and food security in Zimbabwe.

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Aims and Objectives of The Mashona Cattle Society:

  • To conserve the purity of Zimbabwe's unique Mashona cattle heritage for collective benefit, for
    today and for future generations;
  • To contribute to food security and livelihoods through the breeding of good genetic stock and the sharing of knowledge with all interested parties and communities;
  • To continually improve the genetics of the breed, through selective breeding for productivity and performance;
  • To measure this with beef performance recording and bull performance testing;
  • To study and conduct research into the types, features and attributes of the Mashona cattle breed;
  • To keep records of the pedigrees of all inspected animals;
  • To verify records where required, and settle differences and disputes regarding the breeding
    and purity of Mashona cattle;
  • To set the breed standard of excellence and carry out inspections for herd accreditation;
  • To foster and maintain links with government and other parties, for the advancement of the
    objectives of the Society, and improvement of all indigenous cattle breeds in general;
  • To promote the breed through shows, sales, field days, the media and other platforms;
    highlighting the merits of Mashona cattle;
  • To acquire land, buildings and other assets on behalf of the Society for its use or for lease or sale
    in the interests of the Society;
  • To appoint and discharge officials for the execution of the services of the Society; and
  • To undertake any other functions in order to achieve these objectives.
History of the Mashona Cattle Society
Our Society started its life in 1950 as the Indigenous Cattle Society, which later became the Mashona Cattle Society.  Setting this Society up was a daunting task for its visionaries, Frank Willoughby and Allie McLeod, who first carried out selective breeding of Mashona cattle, well recognising the huge potential of this resilient breed. 

In those early days, the Mashona breed was often ridiculed, and indigenous cattle were generally disparaged.  These hardy animals, so well-adapted to our challenging environments and climatic conditions, had not yet received the widespread recognition and admiration they later came to enjoy, for so many good reasons. 

Following much negotiation with the agricultural show societies of the time, the Indigenous Cattle Society obtained partial recognition of its breed and certificates of registration.

A Herd Book was opened for the registration of foundation stock and the names of four outstanding bulls were the first entries made, at a ceremony in Bulawayo.

Rules were drawn up for a system of registration based on records and visual inspection of both parents and progeny.  This system is today recognised as highly enlightened and effective, and well ahead of its time.

From the outset, the Society fostered technical exchange with Government officials and other stakeholders. Of the 24 people present at the inaugural meeting in 1950, only two were private breeders. Today, the Society co-opts Special Advisors onto its Council.

In the early 1950s, herds were established throughout Mashonaland and Masvingo Province.

The Lomagundi East Branch was established in 1954, based in Banket, with 14 members, with the objective of encouraging the development of the breed in the Lomagundi area. This Branch created a more performance-oriented on-farm competition to replace showground competitions of breeding stock, establishing the Sir Robert Wilkinson Trophy Competition in 1956.

Initially based on assessment of six cows with three of their progeny, this changed in 1961 to a bull with his entire calf-crop for one year. The competition was opened to all members of the Society in 1959.  

The Lomagundi East Branch was disbanded in 1969 due to reduced membership and the Sir Robert Wilkinson Trophy was transferred to the parent Society, which had meantime continued to develop.

The many merits of the Mashona breed had rapidly gained recognition at shows, and demand for bulls and heifers was exceeding supply by then. 

The initial enthusiasm of founder members continued through the 1960s, carried by various inspired breeders who included JP Wilkinson, RK Harvey, Brig. DJA Stuart, PPW Peech, the Barron and Colborne families, and many others.

In addition to the Central Testing Station at Murehwa, herds were established at Grasslands Research Station, Makoholi Experiment Station and Domboshawa Training Institute.

As part of a more complex breeding experiment, the performance testing of Mashona bulls in individual feed pens was started at Makoholi in 1961. Since then, the use of high-performance bulls selected from annual tests has had a profound influence on the development of the breed.

After Independence, increased focus upon small scale and communal farming, combined with resources to back this focus, led to indigenous cattle playing a more prominent role in national research programmes and at educational institutions.

A Mashona herd was established at Henderson Research Station in the 1980s. The Grasslands herd was transferred to Chibero College of Agriculture in 1990. 50 heifers from Makoholi were sent to Henderson Research Station and some 40 selected heifers were assembled at Gwebi in Phase I of the Cross-Breeding Trial. They were subsequently used as foundation animals for the existing College herd.

Initiated at Matopos Research Station in 1974, the most extensive research yet on the comparative performance of all cattle breeds in Zimbabwe found the Mashona breed to be the most productive breed in Zimbabwe, per unit of veld.

The establishment of the lndibreed Group Breeding Scheme by the Mashona Cattle Society in 1991 was another particularly important development.

In the first decade of the 2000s, the Society became dormant, but active breeder Carmen Stubbs continued to work with the Zimbabwe Herd Book (ZHB) to continue to promote the breed.

The Mashona Cattle Society was happily re-established in 2010.  In recent years, the Society has been approached to assist research institutes to attain Mashona herd accreditation for ZHB registration again, after several years of uncontrolled crossbreeding. Genetic purity of animals is essential for conclusive research in the national agricultural research programme which is now increasingly oriented to assist small-holders to manage climate change.

Today the Society continues its work of actively promoting the Mashona breed through Field Days, Shows, the media and other platforms, highlighting the many merits of this hardy, resilient, well-adapted breed.

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Mashona-Cattle-Society-Zimbabwe-mashona-calves-mixed-colours-scenic-with-golden-grass-background The efforts and activities of the Society and its dedicated breeders have contributed to a much greater realisation of the benefits of indigenous cattle, the Mashona breed in particular, bringing about a marked change in thinking on the breeds of cattle best suited for Zimbabwe. More recently the hardiness and resilience of these breeds in the face of climate change has been recognised as undeniable, with much potential for use of these adapted genes on other continents than our own.

The robustness and adaptability of this unique breed give it the ability to remain productive even under low levels of nutrition, low water availability and heavy parasitic infestation; conditions typical of the smallholder production environment.  Such attributes in today’s world in which climate change is now a current, urgent reality, are critically important selection criteria in breeding, to ensure survival, growth, productivity and fertility.

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