Common elands were recommended for domestication by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2000, because of their physiological, morphological and breeding similarities to cattle. One of the most successful domestication experiments has been running at Askanya Nova (Ukraine) since 1892. There, an intensive husbandry system with early weaning, milking and fattening, similar to intensive cattle management, is performed. On the other hand, the extensive ranching of game (including common eland) prevails in Africa. This intensive farming is therefore unique in the world even by herd size of around 50 individuals.
Nutrition and production
The common eland is a ruminant with a digestive system similar to cattle. They are predominantly browsers, but grass forms a substantial proportion of their diet in parts of Africa. They are able to eat plants which are reportedly poisonous for cattle. Their breeding in Africa is sometimes superior to cattle, because they are more adaptable to seasonal changes in the forage quality. Eland have in the barn year round accessible ad libitum mixed ration based on conserved feed (corn silage, alfalfa silage and meadow hay). From spring to winter they have access to adjacent paddock where they graze. With its low fat content in muscle and tastiness, meat is very popular delicacy in Africa. Antelope meat from our farm compare to beef has over a comparable ration 7 times less total fat content, while higher proportion of essential unsaturated fatty acids.