Each coat pattern has a different name in isiNdebele, and if the animal has horns, they too all have names. Back in the day, when the Matabele lived in regiments, this coat pattern, “Inhlekwane,” was favoured by the Isiziba regiment.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of coat patterns. Nkone cattle usually have a dark skin (even if they have lighter hair colours) and must have a black nose, and black pigments around their eyes. These cattle are hardy and have to withstand high temperatures
Two bulls on Anglesea, “butting things out!” (Above)
This is a group of in-calf cows, just hanging out near the water trough. Those horn shapes are mostly Umdhlodhloma, according to John Brownlee, a researcher who wrote a booklet about the various horn shapes and coat colours.
Our Nkone weaners have to be kraaled, on Anglesea Farm or hyena will eat them!!!
Their grazing paddock is about 500m from the kraal, and the chaps who look after them, walk them there very early in the mornings. In these photos, the sun was just peaking over the horizon, shining through the dust created by hundreds of little hooves.
Blessing Chakandanikira (a well known Bulawayo artist) used these images to paint several watercolours.
When the European settlers arrived in Africa, they found indigenous cattle here already. Crossed with exotic breeds, they produced animals with hybrid vigour. Unfortunately, the original stock became diluted over time. Thankfully, small pockets of pure lines were kept (mostly on research stations,) and the Anglesea Nkone cattle developed from one of these.
I love this little lady – she has such lovely markings – I love her eyebrows – its almost as if she is wearing make-up! These cattle are very tame and handleable, and this one in particular comes over to talk to me when I visit the herd. Of course all cattle on Anglesea are individually marked, with tags, brands and tattoos and we keep track of them (ie medicines administered, monthly weights, calving dates and to whom they were bulled,) in a database.
When the early European settlers arrived here, in what later became Matabeleland, they found people here already with cattle – these beautiful animals with many different coat markings. They crossed well with exotic breeds and were nearly lost to us via inbreeding.
Luckily pockets of them were selected and bred true (mostly at the research stations, set up around Matabeleland) and later on farms such as Anglesea, in the Matopos. Initially called Nkone/Nkoni due to the predominant coat colour of that name, the name was changed to Nguni (the breed) and now, I hear, back to Nkone!
These photos were taken at the dip at Anglesea Farm, the cattle herded by the beef foreman, Johnson (featured in the first photo) and Neki (the man in charge of “maternity” or the pregnant cows) in the next two.
I love the way the early light is shadowed by the hills in some places in Matopos, and shows up a lovely golden colour where it touches the ground.