Brahman breed originated from Bos indicus cattle
originally brought from India. Through centuries of exposure to
inadequate food supplies, insect pests, parasites, diseases and
the weather extremes of tropical India, the native cattle
developed some remarkable adaptations for survival. These are
the "sacred cattle of India," and many of the Hindu
faith will not eat meat from them, will not permit them to be
slaughtered, and will not sell them. These facts, in conjunction
with he quarantine regulations of the United States, have made
it difficult to import cattle from India into this country.
the Bos indicus cattle are characterized by a large hump
over the top of the shoulder and neck. Spinal processes below
the hump are extended, and there is considerable muscular tissue
covering the processes. The other characteristics of these
cattle are their horns, which usually curve upward and are
sometimes tilted to the rear, their ears, which are generally
large and pendulous, and the throatlatch and dewlap, which have
a large amount of excess skin. They also have more highly
developed sweat glands than European cattle (Bos taurus)
and so can perspire more freely. Bos indicus cattle
produce an oily secretion from the sebaceous glands which has a
distinctive odor and is reported to assist in repelling insects.
of the Breed
Some 30 well
defined breeds of cattle have been listed in India. Three
principal strains or varieties were brought to the United States
and used in the development of the Brahman breed are the Guzerat,
the Nellore, and Gir. In addition, the Krishna Valley strain was
introduced and used to a lesser extent. The general similarity
of the Guzert strain to the cattle selected and developed in
this country would indicate that cattlemen working with the
breed have generally preferred this type.
into the United States
conflicting reports as to the exact manner of the introduction
of Indian cattle to the United States, but the following account
was give to Dr. Hilton Briggs, author of Modern Breeds of
Livestock, by the American Brahman Breeders' Association to
help summarize the importations.
first Indian cattle, of which there is any record, were imported
in 1849 by Dr. James Bolton Davis of Fairfield County, South
Carolina, who, it is believed, became acquainted with Bos
indicus cattle while serving as agricultural advisor to the
Sultan of Turkey. Although the descendants of these cattle were
spread widely throughout the South, their complete identity was
lost during the Civil War. Two Indian bulls were given to
Richard Barrow, a cotton and sugar planter of St. Francisville,
LA., in 1854, by the British Crown in recognition of Mr.
Barrow's services of teaching cotton and sugar cane culture to a
British representative who was to take these arts to India. The
offspring of these cattle became known as "Barrow
Grade" cattle, becoming widely known through the Gulf Coast
region. The success of these two animals led to the importation
of two more Indian bulls in 1885 by J.M. Frost and Albert
Montgomery of Houston, Texas. By mating these two bulls to the
offspring of the Barrow bulls, the first attempt to concentrate
the blood of Bos indicus cattle in the United States was
animals were imported by circus organizations from time to time,
some of the more desirable ones being purchased by farmers and
ranchers. One of the more famous of such purchases was a red
bull named "prince," acquired by A.M. McFaddin, of
Victoria, Texas, in 1904, from the Haggenbach Animal Show.
Another was the sale of about twelve head of Indian cattle by
Haggenbach, these finally being acquired by Dr. William States
Jacobs of Houston.
In 1905 and
1906, the Pierce Ranch of Pierce, Texas, assisted by Thomas M.
O'Connor of Victoria, Texas, imported thirty bulls and three
females of several Indian types. These were personally selected
by Able P. Borden, manager of the Pierce Ranch.
90 bulls of the Guzerat, Gir and Nellore types were imported
from Brazil. In 1925, a second importation from Brazil,
including 120 bulls and 18 females, reached this country. Both
groups were shipped to Mexico and driven overland to the United
Brazilian bulls were brought to Texas by way of Mexico in 1946.
It is said that
during the period from 1910 to 1920, many cattle in the
south-western part of Texas and the coastal country along the
Gulf of Mexico showed considerable evidence of Bos indicus
breeding. Naturally, many of the bulls that were used were the
result of crosses with other breeds. Some breeders attempted to
keep the stock pure, but they were in the minority.
are records of less than 300 imported Brahmans, most of which
were bulls, it must be assumed that other breeds supplied the
foundation animals for the breed. The bulls were used on cows of
the European breeds and on the descendants of these crosses. By
the fifth generation (31/32) the offspring carried not only a
preponderance of Bos indicus breeding but selection
pressure had permitted the development of an animal generally
regarded as superior to the original imports for beef
Brahmans are intermediate in size among beef breeds found in the
United States. Bulls will generally weigh from 1600 to 2200
pounds and cows from 1000 to 1400 pounds in average condition.
The calves are small at birth, weighing 60 to 65 pounds, but
grow very rapidly and wean at weights comparable to other
The disposition of Brahman cattle is often questioned. Brahmans
are intelligent, inquisitive and shy. They are unusually
thrifty, hardy and adaptable to a wide range of feed and
climate. However, these characteristics also suggest careful,
kind handling methods. Brahmans like affection and can become
very docile. They quickly respond to handling they receive, good
or bad. Well bred, wisely selected and properly treated Brahmans
are as easily handled as other breeds.
Brahmans very in color from very light grey or red to almost
black. A majority of the breed are light to medium grey. Mature
bulls are normally darker than cows and usually have dark areas
on the neck, shoulders and lower thighs.
Tolerance. Studies at the University of Missouri found that
Brahman and European cattle thrive equally well at temperatures
down to 8° F. They found that European cattle begin to suffer
adversely as the air temperature goes above 70° F, showing an
increase in body temperature and a decline in appetite and milk
production as 75° F, is passed. Brahmans, on the other hand,
show little effect from temperatures up to and beyond 105° F.
Although heat tolerance is only one factor in environmental
adaptation of cattle, it is considered the most important. These
are some of the other factors that allow Brahmans to adapt to
The short, thick, glossy hair coat of the Brahman reflects much
of the sun's rays, adding to its ability to graze in the glaring
midday sun without suffering.
Pigmentation. The black pigmented skin of Brahmans keeps out
the intense rays of the sun, which in excessive amounts will
damage deeper tissue layers.
Skin. An abundance of loose skin on the Brahman is thought
to contribute to its ability to withstand warm weather by
increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling.
Ability. Brahmans have sweat glands and the ability to sweat
freely through the pores of the skin, which contributes
materially to their heat tolerance.
Body Heat. One factor contributing to the great heat
tolerance of Brahmans, discovered in the Missouri studies, is
that they produce less internal body heat in warm weather than
do cattle of European breeds. Waste heat is produced from feed
at the expense of growth and milk production.
cattle have been found to fill a unique place in American cattle
production. The Brahman and cattle carrying percentages of
Brahman breeding have been found extremely useful in the
southern coastal area of the United States, where they have
demonstrated their ability to withstand hot and humid weather
and to resist insects. In more recent years Brahman cattle have
spread considerably from their initial locations and are now
found widely through the United States. They are also good
mothers and produce a very satisfactory milk flow under
conditions that are adverse for best performance of the European
breeds. Cancer eye is almost unknown in the breed. They have
established a considerable reputation for a high dressing
percentage, and their carcasses have a very good
"cutout" value with minimum of outside fat.
the greatest tribute to the Brahman breed and its breeders is
the rapid growth of the breed outside of the United States. They
have constituted a large proportion of our exports of breeding
cattle outside continental North America.