Bos Indicus Cattle

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  What Are Bos Indicus Cattle?

     Bos Indicus cattle are an unusual sight for most of us.  Bred to live in hot climates, these creatures are also referred to as zebu.  You'll know them if you see them, because they have an appearance that's unlike pretty much any other type of cattle.  Any animal you see with similar characteristics is probably descended from the Bos Indicus, and originated in southern Asia.

     These cattle are also called humped or indicus cattle.  Unlike other domesticated cattle, which are called taurine cattle, these animals are well adapted to their tropical environments.  They were once considered their own species but are now thought to be a branch of the same species as more familiar breeds.

     It's thought that Zebu cattle were derived from an Asian subspecies of the aurochs, while European cattle were derived from European aurochs, or giant prehistoric cattle.  Guar, a type of wild cattle in Asia, may also have been involved in the creation of the modern Bos Indicus type.  There have been no wild zebu cattle in Asia since the time of the Indus Valley Civilization, however.  Interbreeding with domesticated animals and reduction of habitat has resulted in the wild type's extinction.

     There are seventy-five different known breeds of Bos Inducus cattle, with about half being native to South Asia and the other half living in Africa.  These include the Gyr, Guzerat, Kankrej and Indo-Brazilian, the famous Brahman of India, the Nelore, Sahiwal, Ongole, Butana, Red Sindi and Boran, as well as the Philippine Native and Chinese Southern Yellow, among others. 

     In addition, there are also Sanga cattle, created by hybridizing humped zebu cattle breeds with native humpless cattle living in Africa.  These breeds include the Ankole-Watusi, Red Fulani and Afrikaner, as well as other breeds.  Unlike pure Bos Indicus types, these cattle have small humps located forward on their backs, while zebu have large shoulder humps, droopy ears, and very large dewlaps.

     Adaptations for their environment include pest resistances that European cattle don't have, as well as a greater distribution of sweat glands.  These are partially responsible for their introduction into Africa by ship.  In addition, these animals were brought to Brazil in the early part of the twentieth century, then crossbred, producing an animal called the Chanchim.  These cattle are though to provide the heat resistance of the zebu and the meat quality of European cattle.  Interestingly, a zebu was successfully cloned at Texas A&M University in the late 1990s.

     Bos Indicus cattle are used in hot climates all over the world for meat, milk, and draft animals.  Different breeds are suited to different uses, and it's been said that these animals produce a tougher meat than taurine cattle.  However, this opinion is debated. 

     What is definitely true is that these animals provide a stronger, better adapted alternative for farmers working in tropical climates.  Where European breeds are unable to easily survive, the zebu types do well.  That's one reason that they've been so widely crossbred, with breeders hoping to obtain the best traits of both breeds in the offspring. This article researched and written by a paid professional ghostwriter. 


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