Australian Cattle Basics – Bos Taurus & Bos Indicus

Due to its size, geographical location, diverse climatic conditions and rich natural environment, Australia is home to a range of different cattle breeds. Presently, Australia has a cattle population of approximately 26 million. Australian cattle breeds are divided into two main groups – Bos Taurus and Bos Indicus.

Bos Taurus – Temperate breeds

Teys cows

Bos Taurus breeds are derived from British and European stock, and they are best suited to the cooler regions of Southern Australia. Arguably, the best known Bos Taurus breed is Angus, which originates from Scotland. Bos Taurus cattle have thicker coats which allow them to weather cooler winters, and they do not have the notable ‘hump’ of their bos indicus relatives.

There are approximately 100 Bos Taurus breeds in Australia, the most common being;

  • Angus
  • Hereford
  • Shorthorn
  • Charolais
  • Limousin

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Bos Indicus – Tropical breeds

Bos Indicus cattle are developed from lines of the Indian Zebu, most commonly known as Brahman.

Cattle with Bos Indicus bloodlines can be distinguished by a hump on their back. They also have large ears and dewlap (the saggy skin in front of their chest), which help to keep them cool. Bos Indicus cattle are better suited to walking long distances for water and foraging. Tropical breeds are tick resistant and well-suited to the extremes in temperature of Northern Australia.

Bos Indicus cow

Common Australian Bos Indicus breeds include:

  • Brahman
  • Droughtmaster
  • Santa Gertrudis
  • Brangus (a cross of Angus and Brahman)
  • Braford (a cross of Hereford and Brahman)

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