History of the Zebu




Although the Miniature Zebu (Brahman cattle) have been in existance for centuries in other countries, they are still extremely rare (less than 2000 purebred animals in USA).

     There are two main organizations that Zebu breeders can join. One is the IMZA and the newest, fastest growing is the AMZA. You can access the AMZA link from this site.

Miniature Zebu cattle are one of the oldest know cattle breeds dating back to 3000 BC. Because of that little is know about their early history. But these tiny cows were believe to have come from southern India and Sri Lanka in Asia. This is a very tough-hardy breed of cattle. And if bottle raised, makes a wonderful small family pet. At the withers, behind the hump, the height cannot exceed 42 inches, at 3 years of age. Many are far smaller. Mature cows should weigh 300 to 500 pounds. Bulls from 400 to 600 pounds. The colors that they come in are: steel gray to nearly white, cream, red, black or spotted. hey are also available in paint colors and brindles. One advantage of the miniature Zebu is that that are better adapted to heat than most European breeds. They require less space and care as they are extremely hardy and disease resistant. They may have calving problems in cold weather so one should be prepared for that. Miniature Zebu cattle are registered with IMZA and AMZA. Join either or both lists to talk about these interesting little bovines.

    ( Mumbai traffic Source: Ant™nio Milena/ABr. 18.Jan.2004 Picture here free download w/credits Zebu From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

     Domestic cattle breeds can be separated into two major groups, no hump taurine (Bos taurus) and humped Zebu (Bos indicus). Zebus (Bos taurus), sometimes known as 'humped cattle', are better-adapted to tropical environments than other domestic cattle. Their scientific name was originally Bos indicus, but this name is now deemed invalid by ITIS, who classify the zebu under Bos taurus along with all other domestic cattle, and their aurochs anscestors, domesticated in India about 10,000 years ago. The ancient species of Bos nomadicus cattle or even gaur may have contributed to the development of the zebus. There are some 75 known breeds, split about evenly between African breeds and South Asian ones. The major Zebu cattle breeds of the world include Gyr, Guzerat, Indu-Brazilian, Nellore, Ongole and Brahman. Zebu have humps, large dewlaps and ears. They have more sweat glands than European cattle (Bos taurus). They handle hot, humid climates well and have pest resistances not seen in European cattle. Because they were better adapted to hot environments, zebus were imported to Africa for thousands of years and interbred with native cattle there. Genetic analysis of African cattle has found higher concentrations of zebu genes all along the east coast of Africa, and especially pure cattle on the island of Madagascar, implying that the method of dispersal was cattle transported by ship. Partial resistance to rinderpest led to another increase in the frequency of zebus in Africa. Zebu were imported into Brazil in the early twentieth century and crossbred to Charolais cattle, a European breed. The resulting breed, which consists of 5/8 Charolais and 3/8 Zebu is called the Chanchim. It has a better meat quality than the zebu as well as better heat resistance than European cattle. The zebu breeds used were primarily Indubrazil with some Nelore and Guzera.

     The picture above shows draft zebu in Mumbai, India Numerous breeds are complex mixtures of the zebu and other Bos taurus varieties, and some also have yak, gaur or banteng genetics. While zebu are the common cattle in much of Asia, Japanese, Korean and Mongolian cattle are closer related to the European type. Bulls from the Brahman breed of zebu are often used in for bullriding in rodeo. The mini Zebu bulls are also used in training young rodeo bull riders.   

This next section was taken from an article in the Natural History Magazine, on line.

 Genetic Hoofprints:  The DNA trail leading back to the origins of todayŐs cattle has taken some surprising turns along the way. By Daniel G. Bradley The genes present in the 1.3 billion cattle living on the Earth today represent a stream of inheritance that stretches back 10,000 years. The founding event in the legacy of the domesticated farm animal was the capture of the formidable wild ox, or aurochs. Taming a long-horned beast six feet tall at the shoulder must have been a daunting task, but it was just one of a series of plant and animal domestications that forever changed the way most people live. Ever since Darwin, opinions had cycled between the one- and the two-stone scenario. Some scholars argued that all domestic cattle had a common origin in a single domestication center in the Fertile Crescent. Others believed, on the basis of archaeological evidence, that the cattle of the Indian subcontinent were separately tamed. Our work has shown that the cattle of Europe, northern Asia, and Africa all have closely related DNA sequences and that they all belong to a group that corresponds most closely to the humpless cattle known as Bos taurus. But the genes of the humped, zebu cattle native to India, known as Bos indicus, tell a different story. On the bovine family tree, zebu are ten times further removed from the three members of the B. taurus group than those three are from one another. The Indian humped cattle belong to a genetically distinct group of their own. So the genetic evidence firmly sides with the archaeological findings: early farmers, in what are now Pakistan and India, did indeed capture and tame their own zebu-like version of the wild ox. Since their arrival in Africa, Indian cattle genes have thrived and through interbreeding, have spread throughout the continent. Zebu are generally well adapted to hot and dry environments, a boon in African regions that are becoming increasingly arid. And in the late nineteenth century, when the cattle disease rinderpest became epidemic and decimated B. taurus herds, zebu genes conferred some resistance. In an age when most cattle in the developed world have a slim family tree, humanity should treasure, and perhaps will come to be thankful for, the rich weave of ancestry that persists on the plains of Africa. Pastoral societies also preserve the cultural importance of this largest of domesticated species. In Western societies, this cultural element has mostly disappeared from peopleŐs everyday lives. Cattle retain their significance only behind the fenced-in properties of agribusinesses and the well-guarded entrances to commodity-trading floors. Copyright © Natural History Magazine, Inc., 2003



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Phone: 903.887.6378

Email: Lmunchrath@netzero.com

261 VZCR 2924
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Larry Munchrath

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