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Cattle Species & Biological Types

Cattle Species & Biological Types
Why are breeds important?
The world of cattle
○ There are more than 250 breeds of beef cattle in the whole world
○ In the U.S. there are over 60 of these breeds
○ Only around 20 breeds make up a large portion of the beef
industry in the U.S.
Why know breeds?
● The breed, or combination of breeds will have a significant impact on
the efficiency and profitability of the operation
● Breed influences
○ growth rate
○ reproductive efficiency
○ maternal ability
○ end-product specifications
And well cows gotta eat right?!
● Breed also affects
○ nutritional requirements
○ mature cow size
○ growth rate
● What and how much you feed is affected by the breed you choose
● Therefore, selecting appropriate breeds is an important decision for
beef cattle producers.
Species and Groups
Cattle taxonomy
Ms. Garcia
Ag Science 1
West Valley FFA
● Kingdom: Animalia
● Phylum: Chordata
● Class: Mammalia
● Order: Artiodactyla
● Family: Bovidae
● Genus: Bos
● Species: Taurus or Indicus
British v. Continental v. Brahman (aka Zebu)
● All cattle are under the genius Bos
○ There are 2 cattle species
■ Bos taurus
■ Bos indicus
○ There are 3 breed groups/biological types
■ British- taurus
■ Continental- taurus
■ Brahman- indicus
Biological type origin
● British breeds come from the United Kingdom
● Continental breeds come from Continental Europe
● Brahman come from South Asia/ India
Why are they different?
● They were all developed in different countries with very different
○ Climate
○ Land
○ Feed resources
○ Needs of cattle producers
● British and Continental breeds come from the same species
○ However were developed under very different circumstances
Ms. Garcia
Ag Science 1
West Valley FFA
○ Giving each type unique characteristics suited to different
● Brahman cattle are a completely different species
○ They have very different characteristics
■ Both in physical appearance and production traits
● British breeds of cattle were mostly developed in the forage rich
regions of England and Scotland.
● These breeds were developed to transform grasses into high quality
● The breeds were focused on a female that could raise a calf and a
bullock that would fatten on grass.
● These maternal breeds excel in fertility, longevity, marbling, and ability
to thrive in environments with limited feed resources.
● Characteristics:
○ Small size.
○ Calving ease.
○ Hardiness in cold
○ High % of waste at
○ Early maturity.
○ Marbled beef.
○ Fertility.
○ Meat tenderness
● British breeds:
○ Angus.
○ Longhorn
○ Hereford.
○ South Devon
○ Shorthorn.
○ Belted Galloway
● Continental European breeds were often developed as dual purpose
○ females were used as dairy and beef animals and
Ms. Garcia
Ag Science 1
West Valley FFA
○ the males were used as draft animals through their earlier years
then processed into beef.
● So these breeds tend to be larger in size, courser in stature, and heavier
in milk production.
● Characteristics:
○ Large size.
○ Late maturity.
○ Rapid weight gain on feed.
○ Large yield of beef.
○ Low of waste at slaughter.
○ Lean beef.
● Continental breeds:
○ Belgian Blue.
○ Charolais.
○ Gelbvieh.
○ Limousin.
○ Maine Anjou.
○ Salers.
○ Simmental.
● Bos Indicus Cattle (Zebus) are also known as Brahman cattle,
● They are a domestic cattle originating in South Asia/India.
● They are well adapted to withstand high temperatures
● Brahman cattle are used in many tropical countries
● Both as pure brahman breeds, as well as hybrids with Bos taurus cattle
● Brahman are all purpose cattle used for power, dairy and beef
● There are some 75 known breeds of zebu, split about evenly between
African breeds and South Asian ones.
● Characteristics:
Ms. Garcia
Ag Science 1
West Valley FFA
○ Large hump over the top of the shoulder and neck
○ Grow quickly
○ Docile
○ Grow in conditions that would be adverse to Bos Taurus
■ High heat
■ Less water
■ Less feed
● Brahman Breeds:
○ Brahman
○ Nelore
○ Gir
○ Red Sindhi
Ms. Garcia
Ag Science 1
West Valley FFA