Meet Australian cattle & sheep farmers, discover 100 research projects and learn more about what is important to the sustainability of the industry

Your 60 sec Guide to Cows with Nicko’s Kitchen

Wagyu is a breed of cattle, not a type of meat. Don’t say we never taught you nothin’

 

In our travels we realised that most people (in some cases, ourselves included) don’t know too much about cattle breeds in Australia. Kudus to the top notch marketing campaign that managed to make Angus a household name:

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Image credit - https://mcdonalds.com.au/menu/grand-angus

But aside from that, most Aussies don’t know too much about breeds and why the heck we need over 60 different pure breeds of cattle in Australia. And remember, cattle aren’t native to Australia. Australia’s cattle industry started in 1788 when Captain Arthur Philip rolled in with six cows, a bull and a bull calf with him on the First Fleet’s voyage from England to Botany Bay.

So being the good Samaritans that we are, we thought we’d break it down for you.

Basically, we can split the Australian cattle herd in half, and you might be surprised at how scientific and essential to animal welfare that split is.

Cattle can be divided into two main groups: temperate breeds (or Bos Taurus) and tropical breeds (or Bos Indicus).   

Farmers in southern Australia (where it’s cooler) have temperate cattle. These cattle can handle the cold in winter no worries. They tend to be shorter, stocky little fellows with longer coats. We’re talkin’ Murray Grey, Angus, Hereford, Belted Galloway, Charolais.

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Angus

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Hereford

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Murray Grey

Our northern cattle farmers have tropical breeds of cattle. These cattle were introduced from countries in South Asia and areas of the Mediterranean and Africa, to withstand the hot tropical areas in the north of Australia. There are also parts of northern Australia that have ticks, those nastay things encountered on school camp. The northern cattle – like Brahman, Droughtmaster and Santa Gertrudis - tend to be more resistant to them, whereas the temperate cattle would not be handling a northern camping trip so much. Our northern mates also have more sweat glands which keep them cool, and they have looser skin, helping them to shake off insects.

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Brahman

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Santa Gertrudis

Now, stay with me here: You can also crossbreed these cattle to mix some of the best traits. It’s like a labradoodle. But better.

Brahman bull + Hereford cow = Braford (see what they did there?). We prefer Hereman. But that’s not a real thing, and we’re obviously not on the breed-naming-committee. These crossbred animals combine productive features from the different breeds, and are often hardier then purebred animals, producing carcases with more meat.

Australia is a huge place, and our Aussie cattle farmers make sure that they’re stocking their farms with animals that will suit the environment. They’ve worked hard to breed animals that are tough, and whose health and welfare won’t be compromised. An Eskimo wouldn’t have the best time in the Sahara, and the same principals apply for cattle.