Bonsmara was bred at the Mara and Messina Research stations between 1937 to 1963 by scientists under the watchful eye of Prof Jan Bonsma. Bonsmara soon became world-renowned as the only beef cattle breed in the world which was created through a well documented crossbreeding programme, with the aid of objectively recorded performance data. Visual evaluation according to norms for functional efficiency, has been implemented from the start and is still strictly applied to today.
The name ‘Bonsmara’ was derived by combining Prof Bonsma’s surname (Bonsma) and Mara research station (Mara), where the first crossbred calves were born. Prof Bonsma and his colleagues constantly exercised crossbreed experiments in about 20 commercial herds in different parts of South Africa, to finally come across the best performing crossbreed sample, 5/8 Afrikaner and 3/8 Exotic Hereford/Shorthorn.
This led to the formation of the Bonsmara SA Society in 1964. Bonsmara were widely spread across South Africa and other African countries which promptly accepted Bonsmara included; Namibia, Uganda and Zambia. The international beef cattle industries of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, USA and Uruguay soon followed.
Strict selection for economical factors such as fertility, milk production, growth and adaptability are still applied and are contributing factors to the reality that Bonsmara proudly succeeded in becoming the strongest and most professionally administered beef cattle breed in South Africa in less than 25 years. After 52 years, Bonsmara still upholds its stature as one of the most prominent beef cattle breeds in South Africa, with more than 130 000 registered Bonsmara cattle.