Front Cover
 Title Page
 Back Cover

Group Title: Report
Title: History and development of Senepol cattle
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00096191/00001
 Material Information
Title: History and development of Senepol cattle
Series Title: Report
Alternate Title: Senepol cattle history and development
Physical Description: 12 p. : col. ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hupp, Harold D ( Harold Dean ), 1948-
College of the Virgin Islands -- Agricultural Experiment Station
Donor: unknown ( endowment )
Publisher: Agricultural Experiment Station, College of the Virgin Islands
Place of Publication: St. Croix V.I
St. Croix V.I
Publication Date: 1981
Copyright Date: 1981
Edition: 2nd revised printing.
Subject: Senepol cattle   ( lcsh )
Senopal cattle -- Virgin Islands of the United States   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States Virgin Islands
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 11).
Statement of Responsibility: by H.D. Hupp.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00096191
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 62247488


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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Back Cover
        Page 13
        Page 14
Full Text


From the Director

This report is part of the continued research effort
of the Agricultural Experiment Station of the College
of the Virgin Islands into improving the agricultural
resources of the Virgin Islands. The beef industry,
including the development of Senepol cattle, is one of
the important agricultural enterprises under full-time
The development of the Senepol cattle breed was
begun in the early 1900s, but due to a lack of scientific
characterization and performance evaluation, the
animals were not commercially exploited.
In order to relieve this situation, efforts were made
to organize the islands' Senepol breeders and initiate a
research program that would open the door for the
growth of this industry.
In April 1976 at my invitation, federal officials
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited St.
Croix to appraise the situation and make
recommendations to begin this process.
A four-point program was suggested: (1) develop a
breed registry to varify the purity of the breed and
establish breed standards; (2) compare the Senepol
cattle performance against other breeds;
(3) characterize the purebred Senepol via a sound

Agricultural Experiment Station

College of the Virgin Islands

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

performance testing program; (4) develop exportation
procedures including a quarantine station.
Since that time, major progress has been made
including the incorporation of the Virgin Islands
Senepol Association of St. Croix. The Agricultural
Experiment Station has become a contributing member
of the S-10 Research Project in Breeding Methods for
Beef Cattle in the Southern Region. A cooperative
breed evaluation project has been started at
Brooksville, Florida. Dr. Harold Hupp, has joined the
Agricultural Experiment Station and has begun full-
time research into the characterization and
performance of the breed. And, a quarantine station
has been set up by the V.I. Department of Agriculture.
Accomplishments of the first two years effort in-
clude the exportation of twenty-two Senepol cattle on
June 23, 1977. This is the first exportation ever of the
breed. Semen exportation has also begun.
The Agricultural Experiment Station of the College
of the Virgin Islands is pleased to assist the Senepol
breeders in their efforts to make a significant
contribution to the improvement of the beef industry
in the Virgin Islands as well as other tropical and
subtropical regions. We look forward to continued
cooperative efforts in achieving this goal.

Darshan S. Padda, Director
April 1978

Report 11

April 1978

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Hupp is the animal scientist for the Agricultural Experiment Station, College of the
Virgin Islands.
COVER PHOTOS: Senepol Catde in typical environments on the island of St. Croix. Photos courtesp-.otlh Waiic
Islands Senepol Association.

History of

Modern Cattle

It is believed that all present-day cattle originated in
Asia, the theorized birthplace of the subfamily Bov-
vinae (Bisschop 1937). However, the cattle that are in-
digenous to the modern world are descendants from
three base stocks: (1) Hamitic or Egyptian Longhorn
cattle, (2) Brachyceros or shorthorn cattle, and (3)
Longhorn Zebu cattle.
The three parent stocks can be put into two distinct
classes: humped, Bos indicus, and humpless, Bos
taurus. Humped cattle, which includes the Zebu stock,
have a muscular or muscular-fatty-tissue hump in the
cervico-thoracic or thoracic region. This hump has been
associated with the ability to survive long drought
periods (Epstein and Mason 1971). Humpless cattle are

further divided into (1) longhorn humpless, Bos
primigenius, and (2) shorthorn humpless, Bos brachy-
ceros or Bos longifrons.
The Senepol cattle breed of the Virgin Islands is a
direct descendant of Bos taurus with crossbred char-
acteristics of both longhorn and shorthorn humpless
cattle. The ancestry of the Senepol breed is a cross
between the Red Poll, which was derived from the
Brachyceros stock, and the N'dama, which was de-
rived from the Hamitic stock.


The longhorn humpless cattle were bred in Northern
Africa several thousand years before the shorthorn
humpless and humped cattle were introduced into
Africa. The Hamitic people and the Hamitic cattle ap-
peared simultaneously about 3000 B.C. on the Tassile-
N-Ajjes plateau in the southern part of the Algerian
Desert (Epstein and Mason 1971).

Origin of the Beef Cattle (Adapted from Rouse 1970b and Bisschop 1937)

Migration of the Ancestors of the Senepol Cattle

The Bos primigenius urus has been divided into only
three local races; one each of Asia, Africa, and Europe.
The last of this base stock lived in Europe until 1627
(Epstein and Mason 1971).
At the end of the neolithic era, the Hamitic people
were forced to migrate westward along the northern
coast of Africa taking their cattle with them. At Gi-
braltar the migration split into two groups. One group
went north into the Iberian peninsula where later de-
scendants, such as the Texas Longhorn, were taken to
the Americas. The other group moved south and west
into open country along the Gulf of Guinea between
French Senegal and northern Nigeria becoming the
ancestor of the N'Dama cattle. In this way the Hamitic
cattle finally disappeared from Egypt (Bisschop 1937).
Hamatic cattle had sufficient size, 1.5 meters
(4.8 feet) tall and 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) long, to make
good draft animals. However, the cows produced little
milk. These cattle were primarily horned, though there
were instances where the cattle were without horns or
polled (Boston 1963). Most of the color patterns pre-
sent in today's cattle were present in this ancient stock.

The N'Dama Cattle

The Fouta Djallan plateau in Guinea is the origin of
the N'Dama cattle. It is not clear if the N'Dama are de-
scendants from the Hamitic Longhorn cattle only

(Mason 1951; Epstein and Mason 1971) or if they are
a result of a Hamitic Longhorn x Brachyceros cross
(Johnston 1906; Curson and Thornton 1936). The
latter theory is based primarily on physical size and not
morphological differences. The N'Dama cattle are also
called Gambia Longhorn, Futa, Futa Longhorn,
Malinke Boenca, and Mandingo (Masion 1951; Epstein
and Mason 1971). Today, N'Dama cattle are found in
Portuguese Guinea, Chad, Nigeria, Congo, Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Mali, Ghana, and Senegal (Rouse 1970b;
Epstein and Mason 1971).
The N'Dama have a short broad head and broad
muzzle. The horns curve up and outward and vary in
length averaging 60 centimeters (24 inches) long. In
Sierra Leone, Portuguese Guinea, and surrounding
areas, the N'Dama cattle have had instances of being
polled or scurred, that is loose-cartilage (Epstein and
Mason 1971). The compact body has a thick, deep
neck and a straight, well fleshed, wide back from the
withers to the tail head. The hindquarters are fairly
deep and well muscled. The dewlap and umbilical
fold are poorly developed (tight). The legs are short
and fine boned (Epstein and Mason 1971).
The color varies from fawn to dark red with darker
extremities and lighter underside. The common colors
are light to dark fawn, gray, dun, light red, chestnut,
and red with black head. The dun animals have a dark
dorsal stripe, dark circles around the eyes, and a light

ring around the dark muzzle is common (Stewart 1937;
Ross 1944). White can be found on the stomach and
switch of the tail.
A valuable characteristic of the N'Dama is their high
degree of nonspecific resistance to trypanosomiasis and
piraplasmosis. They also have a marked resistance to
tick-born infestation, and they acclimatize fairly well to
tropical rain forest climate. The N'Dama have good
beef conformation and sufficient size to make good
draft animals. However, the cows are poor milkers
averaging only about 450 kilograms (992 pounds)
per lactation (Mason 1951; Epstein and Mason 1971).
Epstein and Mason (1971) report N'Dama mature in
four to five years, averaging 250 to 300 kilograms
(550 to 660 pounds) in Mali and 250 to 300 kilograms
(550 to 660 pounds) for females in Nigeria and 300
to 360 kilograms (660 to 794 pounds) for males in the
Faulkner area of Nigeria.


Shorthorn cattle, Brachyceros, began to migrate
from Asia to Africa and Europe about 2200 to 1780
B.C. The Brachyceros cattle entered Africa through the
Isthmus of Suez. By 1700 to 1580 B.C. shorthorn
cattle were the dominant cattle of Egypt, finally re-
placing the Hamitic cattle completely by 1580 to 946
In time the Brachyceros cattle were also displaced
from Egypt and followed the same westward migration
route as the Hamitic cattle. Again, the migration split
at Gibraltar with one group going notth into Nor-
mandy becoming the ancestors of the Jersey, Guernsey,
and Red Poll cattle. The second group migrated south
and west into the unoccupied, infested Glossina jungle
along the Gulf of Guinea (Bisschop 1937, Epstein and
Mason 1971).
The Brachyceros cattle were considerably smaller
than the Hamitic cattle, lean with well developed ud-

ders, and more resistant to adverse environmental con-
ditions. Their forequarters were better developed than
the hindquarters (Epstein 1937). The shorthorn cattle
that evolved in the harsh African environment are, con-
sequently, smaller today than their European relatives
(Epstein and Mason 1971).

The Red Poll Breed

Red Poll cattle were developed as a dual-purpose
breed in the Norfolk and Suffolk counties of England
from Brachyceros stock. The Norfolk cattle were hom-
ed and considered an excellent beef cattle. The Suffolk
cattle were polled and fair as beef cattle, but they were
considered the best milkers in England. The Red Poll
originated by crossing these two pure strains of cattle
about 1815. In 1862 this cross was recognized as a
breed by the Royal Agricultural Society. By 1888 the
Great Britain Red Polled Society was organized. Later
the name was changed to Red Poll to avoid implica-
tions of dehorning (Rouse 1970a; Anderson and Kiser
As the name implies, this breed is polled. Their red
color varies from light red to almost black. Too light
or too dark a color is undesirable. The switch of the
tail may be white, red, or mixed. White is also allowed
behind the navel. White anywhere else on the body
makes the animal ineligible for registration.
The Red Poll is a medium-sized breed with moder-
ate flesh. The cows weigh from 544 to 680 kilograms
(1200 to 1500 pounds) and produce over 3400 kilo-
grams (7500 pounds) per lactation. Mature bulls weigh
from 816 to 907 kilograms (1800 to 2000 pounds).
The Red Poll conformation approaches that of the an-
gular dairy type but is more thickly fleshed. The dew-
lap and umbilical fold are tight.
Today the breed can be found throughout England
and other parts of the world, particularly southern
Africa, North America, and the dairy area of Australia.
The Red Poll has only a limited influx into Central and
South America.

Courtesy of the Virgin Islands Senepol Association

Early N'Dama base stock on
St. Croix (above). Typical
Red Poll bull.

Courtesy of the American Red Poll Association

Courtesy of Virgin Islands Senepol Association

Courtesy of Virgin Islands Senepol Association


Development of

Senepol Cattle

The development of the Senepol cattle breed was
started in the early 1900s by crossbreeding Red Poll
and N'Dama cattle. The breed was developed to meet
the specific requirements of the tropical Caribbean
climate, because most cattle imported into this region
from temperate zones with greater production poten-
tial had broken down due to heat and nutritional
The Senepol breed combines the N'Dama character-
istics of heat tolerance and insect resistance with the
extreme gentleness, good meat, and high milk produc-
tion of the Red Poll.
In 1880 George Elliot, Longford Estates, imported
the first sixty heifers and two N'Dama bulls. This be-
came the nucleus of the N'Dama cattle on St. Croix.
By 1889, Henry Christian Nelthropp, Granard Estates,
was one of the largest purebred N'Dama breeders with
250 head, which he maintained as purebreds.
Nelthropp's son, Bromley, of Estate Butzberg want-
ed to develop a strain of cattle that would combine the
characteristics necessary for good production in the
tropical Virgin Island environment. In 1918 Bromley
purchased a Red Poll bull, Captain Kidd, from the
Trinidad Ministry of Agriculture. The bull was brought
from England in 1914 to improve the beef industry in
Trinidad. However, Captain Kidd's calves were polled
while large-horned work oxen commanded the pre-
mium price. On St. Croix the bull was renamed Doug-
las and was used in a crossing program with N'Dama
females (Allred 1963; Gaztambide Arrillaga 1955;
Nelthropp 1952; Rouse 1973).
Douglas and two of his sons were used as herd sires.
In 1942 Bromley Nelthropp purchased from Estate
Tutu, St. Thomas, another Red Poll bull, Doctor, and
two locally born purebred Red Poll cows. From the
midtwenties on, Bromley sold or exchanged his crosses
to other local N'Dama breeders, and later bought or ex-
changed polled heifers from bulls that had been pre-
viously owned by him. (Nelthropp 1952; Rouse 1973).

Bromley Nelthropp selected for the following
qualifications: (1) red color, good conformation, and
early maturity, (2) no horns, (3) gentle, pet-like dis-
position, and (4) definite heat tolerance. By 1949 his
Senepol herd was completely dispersed to local breed-
ers, who have continued to exchange breeding stock.
The continued development of Senepol cattle has
been carried on by local cattlemen. In the early 1950s
one breeder crossed Santa Gertrudis bulls on Senepol
cows. The crosses did not prove satisfactory, and the
use of Santa Gertrudis bulls was discontinued after
two years. These crosses were upgraded to 7/8 or
more Senepol and reintroduced into the purebred
herd. It is probable that other breeders also did Sene-
pol upgrading to local stock while selecting for the
same qualities Nelthropp had.
The Senepol cattle have been called Nelthropp
Cattle, Cruzan Breed, and St. Croix Cattle. The Sene-
pol trademark was registered in Puerto Rico and the
United States in 1954 as "St. Croix Senepol." The
Virgin Islands Senepol Association of St. Croix was
chartered on October 12, 1976.
Senepol cattle are distributed throughout many is-
lands of the Lesser Antilles. In June 1977, the first
group of twenty-two Senepol cattle was sent to the
US. mainland.

Courtesy of Virgin Islands Senepol Association

Typical Senepol bpll (upper left) and cow and calf
(left). Cow and calf grazing at midday.

Courtesy of Virgin Islands Senepol Association

Young Senepol heifer (above). Forequarter of Senepol



The Senepol cattle resulting from the crossing of
the Red Poll and N'Dama cattle breed true and show
uniform characteristics. Senepol cattle resemble both
parent stocks, with Red Poll characteristics dominant.
This breed is predominantly polled, though scurs are
present. The coat color varies from light tan to dark
red. The switch of the tail may be red, white or mix-
ed. White other than on the switch or on the under-
side disqualifies the animal for registration. The muz-
zle is fairly broad with open nostrils, and its color is
cream or gray.
The Senepol is a medium-sized beef breed with
fairly good beef characteristics. The forequarters are
more developed than the hindquarters. The dewlap
and umbilical fold are fairly tight. The hide is thick,

pliable, and fairly loose with a short, fine hair coat.
The eyes are moderately large and full, denoting
alertness. Medium-sized ears are carried out and up-
Bulls have a long, masculine neck with a moderate
crest. The withers are less defined than those of the
cow. Shoulders are flashed. The back is straight from
the withers to the tail head. The thighs are flat, trim,
wide apart, and well cut between the twist. The testicles
are uniform and normal in size. Bulls have a long, deep,
wide barrel with a developed heart girth. Legs are
squarely set and clean and have sufficient bone to min-
imize leg and foot problems.
Cows have a refined feminine head. The withers are
fairly sharp and defined with some flesh. The neck is
long and clean, blending into the shoulders. The back
is clean and straight with a strong loin. The legs are
medium length with a beef frame to allow sufficient
underpinning. The thighs are not thick and plump
and do not interfere with the udder attachment.
The Senepol have a strongly attached medium-sized
udder. The udder is symmetrical and moderately



At present, limited data is available on the overall
performance of Senepol cattle. The following initial
breed characterization is derived from records of two
of the larger Senepol breeders and personal observa-
tion and communication.
The breeders characterize their breed as follows.
To facilitate a year round beef supply, producers have
two or three calving seasons per year. The cows calve
unassisted under pasture conditions with 95 percent
calf crop at weaning. The calves will average 29 to 36
kilograms (65 to 80 pounds) at birth, 227 kilograms
(500 pounds) at eight months and 363 to 386 kilo-
grams (800 to 850 pounds) at twelve to fourteen
months, when they are usually marketed. Dairy re-
cords on Senepol cows are also limited. Under dairy
conditions, Senepol cows average 11.3 kilograms
(25 pounds) of milk per day for an average of 268
Sires will reach mature weights of 771 to 907 kilo-
grams (1700 to 2000 pounds) at three to four years
under pasture conditions. Mature cows will average

500 to 544 kilograms (1100 to 1200 pounds). Heifers
will calve first at two to three years of age and at
about twelve-month intervals thereafter. Eighteen-
year-old cows have been known to raise average and
above average calves. Both cows and bulls are docile
and easy to manage. The Senepol are extensively
grazed on primarily native pangola grass, guinea grass,
and elephant grass with minimal supplementation.
These animals graze during the hottest part of the day
and are able to go without water for several days at
a time.
Preliminary research has resulted in weight data on
1453 head of Senepol cattle. To date 590 records
have been processed through a Beef Cattle Improve-
ment Association program. Of the 590 head having
adjusted 205-day weights, 364 were purebred Senepol
with adjusted weights of 225 kilograms (497 pounds)
at 226 days. The remaining 226 head were Senepol
x Charolais cross calves weighing 247 kilograms
(546 pounds) at 221 days. Three hundred twenty-one
weanlings averaged 296 kilograms (652 pounds) at
255 days. Thirty-seven yearling bulls had unadjusted
weights of 270 kilograms (596 pounds) at twelve
months. One hundred forty heifers weighed 268 kilo-
grams (591 pounds) at twelve months. One hundred
five breeding heifers averaged 376 kilograms (828
pounds) at fifteen months. Ten mature bulls weighed
861 kilograms (1899 pounds) averaging seven years
old, and 250 mature cows weighed 423 kilograms
(932 pounds) averaging 6.7 years old.

Herding cows and calves in the fall on St. Croix. Courtesy of Virgin Islands Senepol Association


Allred, B. W. 1963. The St. Croix cattle. The Cattleman 50:43.
Anderson, A. L., and Kiser, J. J. 1966. Introductory animal
science. New York: The Macmillian Co., p 348.
Bisschop, J. H. R. 1937. Parent stock and derived types of
African cattle with particular reference to the importance
of conformation characteristics in the study of their
origin. South Africa J. Sci. 33:852-870.
Boston, E. J. 1963. Cattle breeds in Europe and Africa. In:
Man and Cattle Royal Anthropological Institute, occa-
sional paper no. 18.
Curson, H. H., and Epstein, H. 1934. A comparison of Hamitic
Longhorn, West African Shorthorn, and Afrikander
cattle particularly with regard to the skull. Onderstepoort
J. Vet. Sci. and Animallnd., vol. 2, no. 2.
Curson, H. H., and Thornton, R. W. 1936. A contribution to
the study of African native cattle. Onderstepoort J. Vet
Sci. and Animal Ind., vol. 7, no. 2.
Epstein, H. 1934. The West African shorthorn. J. South
African Vet. Med. Assoc., vol. 5, no. 3.
Epstein, H., and Mason, I. L. 1971. The origin of the domestic
animals of Africa, vol. 1. New York: Africana Publishing

French, M. H. 1958, Northampton, England. Letter to Ward
Cannady, St. Croix. In Annaly Farms' File.
Gaztambide Arrillaga, C. 1955. Development of the Senepol.
The Cattleman 42:24.
Hupp, H. D. 1978. The continuing development of the Senepol
cattle. 8th An. Agric. and Food Fair of the Virgin Islands
Johnston, H. 1906. Liberia London: Hutchinson & Co.
Lawaetz, H. 1972. History of Senepol cattle on St. Croix. 2nd
An. Agric. and Food Fair of the Virgin Islands Bull.
Mason, I. L. 1951. The classification of West African livestock.
Tech. Comm. No. 7, Commonwealth Bureau of Animal
Breeding and Genetics, Edinburgh.
Nelthropp, B., St. Croix, Interview by Fritz L. Lawaetz
January, 1950. In Annaly Farms' file.
Ross, S. D. 1944. Nigerian cattle types. Fm & For. 5:52-58.
Rouse, J. E. 1970a. World Cattle I: Cattle of Europe, South
America, Australia, and New Zealand. Norman: Univ.
Okla. Press.
Rouse, J. E. 1970b. World Cattle If: Cattle ofAfrica and Asia.
Norman: Univ. Okla. Press.
Rouse, J. E. 1973. World Cattle III: Cattle of North America
Norman: Univ. Okla. Press.
Stewart, J. L. 1937. The cattle of the Gold Coast. Accra: Govt.
Printing Dept. Reprinted in Vet. Rec. 49:1289-1297.

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are situated in the Lesser
Antilles between 170 30' to 180 30' north latitude and
650 15' to 600 40' west longitude. The three major is-
lands are St. Croix with 22,081 hectares (54,563 acres),
St. Thomas with 7,278 hectares (17,984 acres), and
St. John with 5,194 hectares (12,835 acres). The
Virgin Islands are located approximately 1930 kilo-
meters (1200 miles) southeast of Miami, about 2415
kilometers (1500 miles) south of New York, and about
64 kilometers (40 miles) east of Puerto Rico.
The rainfall an area receives depends primarily on
the islands topography and continual easterly trade

winds. The eastern portion of St. Croix receives only
51 to 76 centimeters (20 to 30 inches) of annual rain-
fall while the western portion of the island receives
127 to 152 centimeters (50 to 60 inches) annually.
St. Thomas has 102 to 127 centimeters (40 to 50 inches)
of annual rainfall in the central portion of the island
while the east and west ends receive about 90 to 102
centimeters (35 to 40 inches) annually. The monthly
daytime average varies 3C (60F), from a low of 280C
(830F) in January and February to a high of 32C
(890F) in July, August, and September. Nights will
average 7C (13F) cooler than the days.

Other Reports

1. Grain Sorghum and Forage: Production and Utilization Potential in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
2. Fruits and Vegetables: Production and Consumption Potentials and Marketing Problems in the U.S.
Virgin Islands
3. Profitability of Beef Production in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
4. Profitability of Dairy Farming in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
5. Profitability of Poultry Production in the U.S. Virgin Islands
6. Profitability of Hog Production in the U.S. Virgin Islands
7. Potential Returns from Goat and Sheep Enterprises in the U.S. Virgin Islands
8. Marketing Potential for Livestock Products in the U.S. Virgin Islands
9. Virgin Islands Forestry Research A Problem Analysis
10. Prospects for Growing Grapes in the U.S. Virgin Islands
11. Okra: A Beloved Virgin (Farmers Bulletin 1)
12. Sorghum in the Virgin Islands (Farmers Bulletin 2)

These reports are available free of charge by writing to the Agricultural Experiment Station, College of the Virgin Islands,
P.O. Box 920, Kingshill, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands 00850.

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