Brahman cattle have a long and rich history. Originating in India, various exports to the United States and Mexico during the late 1800s and early 1900s provided the early strains of the Brahman that were developed into the unique animals we know today. The most important of these strains were the Nellore, Gyr, Guzerat and Indu-Brazil.

The Brahman was introduced to the South African beef cattle scene in 1957 when the first two bulls, purchased from Jurgen Cranz, were imported from Namibia. Cranz had imported his first Brahman animals into Southern Africa in 1954.

The conditions in Africa and the extensive farming systems suited this breed very well, and Brahmans in South Africa soon became an economic and highly productive breed.

Traits unique to the Brahman

Brahmans are characterised by a large hump across the neck and shoulders. Other unique traits include:

  • Heat tolerance: An abundance of loose skin folds, black skin pigmentation, a short, dense and glossy hair coat, the ability to perspire freely and the fact that they do not produce excessive body heat all lead to the ability to withstand extreme temperatures.
  • Hardiness and adaptability: This ability allows them to survive on poor veld and in drought conditions.
  • Maternal properties: Brahman cows are excellent mothers. They tend to stay with their calves, becoming quite aggressive when threatened. They also have exceptional longevity and in many instances Brahman cows are only replaced at 15 years, often producing as many as twelve calves in their lifetime.
  • Calving ease: The inherent capacity of the Brahman cow to restrict pre-natal growth results in lower birth weights.
  • Parasite resistance: Due to the Brahman’s smooth hair coat, loose, pliable skin and oil gland secretion, the breed is capable of effectively resisting and even repelling parasites.
  • Economic efficiency: As Brahmans shed their milk teeth at a later age, they qualify for a grade A carcass at a later age. This results in an extended marketing period.
  • Hybrid vigour: In Brahman crosses this results in higher weaning weights, increased milk production, increased fertility and a stronger resistance to disease. On the veld, especially in warmer areas, no other breed can equal this performance.

Feedlot performance

The Brahman has proven itself as an excellent performer in the feedlot. Research done at the Sernick Feedlot concluded that Brahmans can be fed for 21 days less, where the point of optimal growth, fat depositing and marbling coincides with the lowest point in feeding cost.

The Brahman breed is doing us proud, but there is always room for improvement. Brahman breeders are therefore committed to adopting, developing and applying new technologies in order to evaluate and analyse information and to keep up with market demands.

For more information, contact the Brahman Cattle Breeders’ Society on 051 446 4619/3452 or send an email to info@brahman.co.za.