Senepol cattle evolved on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix when N'Dama cattle were imported for Senegal, West Africa in the 1800's. The island of St. Croix is the largest and southernmost of the U.S. Virgin Islands, located approximately 1,200 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. The N'Dama, a Bos taurus breed, was well suited for the Caribbean because of its heat tolerance, insect and disease resistance and ability to thrive on poor quality forage. In 1918, Red Poll genetics were introduced to the N'Dama stock to improve milking ability, fertility and making them polled. This blending of genetics proved quite successful, and formed the foundation of the Senepol breed. As more Red Poll influence was added, strict selection pressure was applied for 1) early maturity and maternal efficiency, 2) polled and solid red color, 3) definite heat tolerance and 4) gentle disposition.
Today Senepol cattle can be found throughout southern ranching communities and in other warm climates throughout the world. They are proving that the stringent selection on the isolated island of St. Croix has developed a breed with economic advantages that most cattlemen can't ignore. Senepol are 100 percent Bos Taurus. They have no Brahman or no Zebu genetics making for a complete heat tolerant out-cross.
Senepol possess heat tolerance and pass it on in crossbreeding programs. This was proven in USDA research establishing the cooler temperatures maintained by Senepol compared to Brahman, Angus and Hereford cows while grazing during the summer months in Florida.
Senepol have greater immune response when compared to other beef breeds. This is due greatly to the N'Dama influence in Senepol, and is aided by the generations of natural selection on St. Croix.
Senepol females excel in the areas of maternal efficiency. They are similar to Angus in calving ease and light birth weights with the biggest advantage being calf vigor. Breeders everywhere are proud of the increased survival of the Senepol-sired calves because they jump up and nurse quickly. Senepol are also aided by their moderate size, fleshing and foraging ability. Adult cows average 1,000 to 1,200 lbs., and consistently wean off 50 percent or better of their body weight while maintaining an efficient calving interval. As an often over-looked value Senepol hold their conformation and udder quality into an old age while continuing to wean off heavy calves. Every cattleman who visits St. Croix for the first time is amazed at the number of 15-20-year-old cows that are still in production.
Senepol beef has produced some of the industry's best Warner-Bratzler shear force values for beef tenderness in various University and USDA studies. The study, “Genetic Effects on Tenderness in Heat Tolerant Composite Cattle Breeds,” showed inclusion of tropically adapted Bos taurus breeds (such as Senepol) in the development of composites may be an effective strategy for reducing tenderness problems in heat tolerant cattle as presented at the '96 NCA Convention.
Senepol continue to prove their ability to perform in the areas other than the subtropics. Senepol and Senepol cross steers, have performed well repeatedly in Nebraska, Colorado, Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas panhandle feedlots. Generation after generation of Senepol have been selected for handling ease which can greatly compliment other heat tolerant breeds in feedlot handling plus handling on the ranch.
As a compliment to many breeds, Senepol help to bring their advantageous traits to areas where heat tolerance is needed. In USDA research, Senepol crosses have expressed more heterosis than any combination of British x British or British x Continental crosses.
The Senepol Cattle Breeders Association is based in Stratham, Georgia and recognizes over 500 breeders and more than 45,000 Senepol records. The herd book includes full blood Senepol as well as many composite breeds such as Seneford, Senegus and Senevieh. For more information on Senepol cattle or to locate breeders in your area, please contact the SCBA at P.O. Box 808, Stratham, GA 30666-0808. Phone 1 (800) SENEPOL, Fax (770) 725-5281 or Web site http://www.senepolcattle.com/.