Bos Taurus vs Bos indicus Breeds of Cattle

Did you know we have two types of cattle in Australia

Bos taurus

A typical Bos indicus bull
A typical Bos indicus bull

Tropical – Bos Indicus

These breeds have a Zebu component, which originated in southern Asia. Zebus are distinguished from the European breeds by the presence of a musculo-fatty hump, a pendulous dewlap, apendulous prepuce in the male, and a short sleek coat. They are better suited to the hot temperate regions of Australia because they are more tolerant of heat and are resistant to tickfever, a common disease in these areas.

Characteristics of the main Bos indicus breeds in Australia are:

  • Belmont Red. Origin: Queensland. Developed in Australia in 1968. 50% Africander,25% Hereford, 25% Shorthorn. Features: red colour; horned.
  • Brahman. Origin: USA. Introduced to Australia in 1933. Features aresilver-grey coat; horned. Calve easily, milk well and are very protective oftheir young. Maternal/rotation place in crossbreeding.
  • Brangus. Developed from Brahman and Angus. Upgrading of breed between 1950and 1960. Brangus are made up of 37.5% Brahman and 62.5% Angus. Black, polled,reasonable heat and tick tolerance. Medium sized, average to late maturity,yields a carcase without excess fat.
  • Braford. Developed in Queensland between 1946 and 1952. 50% Hereford and 50%Brahman, now stabilised. Heat resistant and relatively tick tolerant. Slightlylater maturing than the British breeds. Produces good yearling and steercarcases.
  • Droughtmaster. Queensland. Established in Australia in 1956. 37.5%-50% Brahman and50%-62.5% Shorthorn, with some mixture of Red Poll and Hereford. Features arered colour: horned or polled.
  • Santa Gertrudis. Origin: USA. 37.5% Brahman, 62.5% Shorthorn. Introduced toAustralia in 1952. Features are red colour; polled or horned. Maternal/rotational/terminal place incrossbreeding.

Temperate – Bos Taurus

Bos taurus

A typical Bos Taurus bull
 A typical Bos Taurus bull

Bos taurus breeds originated in Europe and are all humpless.  These breeds are better suited to areas in southern Australia.

Characteristics of some of the main Bos taurus breeds are:

  • Angus. Origin: Scotland. Introduced to Australia about 1840. Features are ablack coat (recessive red gene also), polled. Suited to vealer, steer andbullock production or maternal/rotational place in crossbreeding.
  • Hereford. Origin: England. Introduced to Australia in 1826. Features are redcoat with white face and underline, and horned. Suited to vealer, steer andbullock production or maternal/rotation place in crossbreeding.
  • Poll Hereford. Origin: USA. Introduced around 1920. Little difference betweenHereford and Poll Hereford apart from Poll factor. Well suited to all markets.
  • Murray Grey. Origin: Wodonga, Victoria. Developed in 1905 from Angus Shorthorn.Features are dun grey coat (range from silver grey to dark grey), polled. Suitedto vealer, steer and bullock production or maternal/rotational place incrossbreeding.
  • Shorthorn. Origin: England. Introduced to Australia in 1825. Features are red,roan or white coat; polled and horned breeds. Contributed to the development ofSanta Gertrudis, Belmont Red, Droughtmaster and Murray Grey. Suited to vealer,steer and bullock production or maternal/rotational place in crossbreeding.
  • Charolais. Origin: France. Introduced to Australia in 1969. Features are whiteor cream coat; polled and horned strains. Suited to bullock production or as aterminal sire in crossbreeding programs.
  • Limousin. Origin: France. Introduced to Australia in 1973. Light brown incolour and horned. Breed is heavily muscled and known for high meat yield with aminimum of fat. Smaller than other European breeds and earlier in maturity, butlater maturing than British breeds. Suitable for crossbreeding programs.
  • Simmental. Origin: Western Europe (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France etc) .Introduced to Australia in 1970. Features are red coat with broken whitemarkings and white face; horned and polled strains. Suited to vealer, steer andbullock production maternal/rotational/terminal place in crossbreeding.

Here is where they are located in Australia

Cattle-Numbers-Map_as-at-June-2011

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