In the 19th century, N'Dama cattle from Senegal were brought to the St Croix, a Caribbean Island situated around 1200 miles from Florida. As these cattle evolved under the Caribbean sun, traits such as tick and disease resistance and heat tolerance (made possible by their short haired sleek coats) improved.
Henry Netlhrop can be credited with helping to develop the breed in its early days. Later, his son Bromley recognised the importance of improving their levels of production in order to sustain better performance in the tropical climates of the Virgin Islands. A successful attempt came when Red Poll bloodlines were introduced to the N'Dama cattle. This new polled type, which was to become the foundation of the Senepol breed, exhibited higher fertility and better milking abilities.
Thereafter, breeding programs focused (in particular) on maternal behaviour, early maturity and red coat colour. The isolation of St Croix has ensured that local Senepol cattle remain pure and refined. Stringent breeding policies, set out by the Senepol breeding registry there, promise to sustain this purity in the future. Since 1977, Senepol cattle have been exported to other countries.
Senepol are naturally polled, medium-sized cattle, whose coat colour is solid red. Some cows remain productive up until 20 years of age. Senepols are known for their maternal efficiency, easy calving, longevity, heat tolerance, superior immune response, hybrid vigour, flavoursome beef and parasite resistance. Bulls are known for their high libidos as well. Mature bulls typically weigh around 900 kilograms, while mature cows can reach weights of 650 kilograms.
Today, Senepol cattle can be found throughout countries including United States, Mexico, Phillipines, Brazil, Venezuela, Australia and Zimbabwe. The Australian Senepol Cattle Breeders Association is responsible for promoting and preserving the breed in Australia.