Santa Gertrudis cattle

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Santa Gertrudis
Santa Gertrudis Mother and Calf.jpg
Conservation status
  • worldwide: not at risk[1]: 140 [2]
  • United States: at risk/vulnerable[2]
Country of originUnited States
Distributioninternational
Usebeef
Traits
Weight
  • Male:
    750–1000 kg[3]: 290 
  • Female:
    600–850 kg[3]: 290 
Coatcherry-red
Horn statushorned or polled
  • Cattle
  • Hybrid Bos taurus/indicus
Bull at Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia

The Santa Gertrudis is an American breed of beef cattle. It is a taurine-indicine hybrid breed, descended from both zebu and European cattle. It was bred in the early twentieth century in Texas, and received official recognition in 1940. It has been exported to many countries including Australia, Brazil and South Africa, and has contributed to the development of a number of modern breeds, among them the Barzona[3]: 290  and the Droughtmaster.[4]: 721 

History[edit]

The Santa Gertrudis was developed on the King Ranch in southern Texas. The name derives from that of the Spanish-owned estate of Los Cerros de Santa Gertrudis, where in 1851 the King Ranch was established.[3]: 290 

The ranch was initially stocked with Texas Longhorn cattle. From about 1880 bulls of the British Hereford and Beef Shorthorn breeds were used to improve them;[3]: 290  substantial separate Shorthorn and Hereford herds were kept to supply the bulls.[5]: 115  In 1910 a part-zebuine bull, descended from an Ongole bull imported in 1906 directly from India, was acquired and was cross-bred with cows of the Shorthorn stock.[3]: 290  The results were promising, and in 1918 the ranch bought fifty-two taurindicine bulls with no less than 75% zebuine parentage, in the hope of creating a composite breed of about 37% zebuine and 62% taurine ancestry. Between 1923 and 1935 a bull named Monkey was extensively used to fix the characteristics of the breed, which was officially recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1940.[3]: 290  All Santa Gertrudis stock descends from this bull.[5]: 124 

In 1931 the ranch imported from South Africa eleven cows and sixteen bulls of Afrikander stock, with the idea of using them to help fix the deep red coat color of the new breed. In the event, this was not found to be necessary, and the cattle were sold off; some were used to create the Africangus cross-breed, and others contributed to the development of the Barzona.[4]: 759 

A breed association was formed in 1951, and the first bulls were sold in the same year.[3]: 290 

The Santa Gertrudis has been exported to many countries, and is reported to DAD-IS by 39.[6] In 2021 the total number worldwide was estimated at approximately 72 000. The largest population was reported from South Africa, at approximately 25 000; significant numbers were reported from Australia, Brazil, Morocco, Namibia, Paraguay and South Africa.[6]

In the United States there were 28 000 head in 1975;[2] by 1990 this had fallen to about 15 200, and to just under 8500 in 2000–2001.[7]: 41  In 2013 the population was reported at 5000, and in 2021 the local conservation status was "at risk".[2]

Characteristics[edit]

The cattle are a solid deep cherry-red in color, with only minimal traces of white on the underline; they may be either polled or horned.[3]: 290  They are hardy, with good resistance to ticks and bloat, and good tolerance of heat.[8] Signs of their indicine heritage include a small hump in bulls, medium-large ears, and loose skin with heavy folds below the neck. The coat is smooth and short.[8]

Use[edit]

The Santa Gertrudis is reared for beef. It was bred to be better adapted than imported British beef breeds to the environmental conditions of Texas – the semi-arid landscape, the sub-tropical climate and the abundance of ticks[5]: 115  – and has been exported to a number of other countries where conditions are similar, including Australia, Brazil and South Africa.[3]: 290 

It has contributed to the development of a number of modern composite breeds, among them the Barzona (with Aberdeen Angus, Afrikander and Hereford in roughly equal proportions); the Brazos (with Hereford and Gelbvieh);[3]: 290  the Droughtmaster (with Beef Shorthorn, Devon, Hereford, Red Brahman, Red Poll, and possibly Afrikander);[4]: 721  and the Santa Cruz (with Gelbvieh and Red Angus).[9]: 51 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Breed data sheet: Santa Gertrudis / United States of America (Cattle). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed September 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
  4. ^ a b c Marleen Felius (1995). Cattle Breeds: An Encyclopedia. Doetinchem, Netherlands: Misset. ISBN 9789054390176.
  5. ^ a b c A.O. Rhoad (1949). The Santa Gertrudis Breed: The Genesis and the Genetics of a New Breed of Beef Cattle. Journal of Heredity. 40 (5, May 1949): 115–126. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.jhered.a106008. (subscription required).
  6. ^ a b Transboundary breed summary: Cattle: Santa Gertrudis. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed September 2021.
  7. ^ Harvey D. Blackburn, Terry Stewart, Don Bixby, Paul Siegal, Eric Bradford (2003). United States of America: Country Report for FAO’s State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources. Agricultural Research Service, USDA; National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation; National Animal Germplasm Program. Annex to: Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (2007). The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 10 January 2017.
  8. ^ a b Cattle breeds: Santa Gertrudis. Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales Government. Archived 21 June 2019.
  9. ^ D.S. Buchanan and J.A. Lenstra (2015). Breeds of Cattle. In: Dorian J. Garrick, Anatoly Ruvinsky (editors) (2015). The Genetics of Cattle, second edition. Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780642215, pages 33–66.

Further reading[edit]

  • Stephens, M (et al), Handbook of Australian Livestock, Australian Meat & Livestock Export Corporation, 2000 (4th ed), ISBN 1 74036 2160