The Australian Brahman, a member of the Bos indicus family, has been developed from the world’s leading Brahman bloodlines. It has evolved into a breed that combines high levels of adaptation with high production potential.
The unique digestive system of the Brahman allows it to perform more efficiently on low protein, low quality feed than other, less adapted breeds. Its tolerance to heat is a major economic factor in tropical beef production. This is because it has dark pigmented skin, an increased number of more efficient sweat glands, as well as a sleek, pliant, reflective coat, and a slower metabolic rate compared to other breeds.
The Brahman exhibits a strong immune response when challenged by disease. It is also resistant to cattle tick. This has major economic benefits in that the Brahman therefore requires less chemical treatment. This tick resistance is due to its immune response, which prevents ticks developing, resulting in a lower tick burden on both pasture and animals. The sleek coat makes tick attachment difficult and chemicals in the sweat glands act as a repellent. The immune response also benefits the Brahman through a resistance to tropical internal parasites.
The lower rumen content of the Brahman means that it has high dressing percentages, with superior lean meat yields, with the meat having less intramuscular fat than most other breeds.
Brahman cattle are now reputed to represent 20% of the Australian herd, with derived breeds and Brahman cross cattle representing another 20%. In Queensland, which contains nearly half the national cattle numbers, it is estimated that around 75% of cattle contain some Brahman blood. In the northern half of the country, crossbred Brahman cattle form the basis of the live feeder and slaughter cattle trade with South East Asian countries and, lately, also with some Middle East and north African countries. In the more favoured areas of Australia, Brahmans are used in crossbreeding programs over Bos taurus cattle to exploit and maximise the hybrid vigour which is derived from this crossing.
The Brahman breed’s genetic development is supported by a leading-edge genetic evaluation system known as Brahman BREEDPLAN. This system is used by most leading studs and produces EBVs for a range of growth, fertility and carcase quality traits, thus improving the accuracy of selection of superior animals.
Australian Brahman cattle are keenly sought after at stud, commercial and crossbred levels, and many animals from each group have been exported in recent years to a variety of countries.