The name "Bonsmara" is derived from the name of the South African scientist, Professor Jan Bonsma, who helped develop the breed and Mara Station, the South African farm where the animals were bred.
An exciting new breed of cattle, the Bonsmara breed was first developed in South Africa in the 1930’s by Professor Bonsma in an effort to produce a breed which could rival European cattle in quality and be able to successfully withstand subtropic climates. After several years of selective breeding of Hereford and Shorthorn half-breeds with three-quarter Afrikaners, the breed was eventually refined.
Dr. Bonsma completed his research in 1956, resulting in the modern day Bonsmara which is a composite of 5/8 Afrikaner, a Bos Taurus (tropically adapted) breed, 3/16 Hereford and 3/16 Shorthorn. Now, after 50 years of selection, economically important traits have been stabilized within the breed to insure high productivity and adaptability in harsh or drought conditions.
This is the only breed scientifically produced with complete pictorial genealogy with every characteristic quantified.
Characteristics of the new breed showed promising results, such as a 20% increase in weaning weights of crossbred cows compared to the parent breeds. Also, the calving percentages of crossbred cows were higher while the mortality rate of calves was significantly lower. African cattle producers were impressed by the breed’s high quality, durability and productivity that in less than 25 years, Bonsmara became the strongest beef breed in South Africa.
Overall, there have been approximately one million animals studied.
The Bonsmara breed completely dominates beef production in South Africa under an extensive range environment where climate and terrain is very similar to the Southern United States.