Zebu Cattle


Zebu Cattle

Zebu cattle are thought to be derived from Indian aurochs

Zebu cattle originated in Southwest Asia and that their descendants were non-humped, they have evolved from three breeds of Indian cattle. The Guzerat, Nelore and the Gir had most influence over Zebu breeding.

Zebu cattle are humped and belong to the Bos primigenius species of cattle. They were taken to Africa at an early date and within the last 100 years, have been exported to Brazil and the US.

Zebu Cattle – Background

From 1890 to 1921 over 5000 Zebu cattle were exported to Brazil from India, a Rinderpest outbreak occurred which then saw a ban on importation of Indian cattle for 9 years.

During this time cross breeding of these cattle went on, Brazilian farmers that were unsure of pure breed Indian cattle used characteristics such as large ears, loose skin, the presence of a hump as an indicator of purity, both of which were common to the Gir and Guzerat not the Nelore.

Zebu Cattle

This cross breed were originally called Indu-Uberaba as it was developed in the region of Uberaba in the state of Minas Gerais but was then changed to Indu-Brazil. The Rinderpest was slowly eradicated and imports were resumed and the new imports of Gir, Guzerat and Nellore were used to create pure strains of the Zebu breed.

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They are thought to be the worlds oldest domesticated cattle. The name Zebu today can be used as a direct name for that breed of cattle but it is also used as a general name for breeds such as Brahman, Gir, Guzera and Nellore.

Many other breeds have been created through cross breeding and selection using the Zebu cattle such as the Sanga and Canchim.

Zebu Cattle – Background

Zebu Cattle

Wild Asian aurochs disappeared during the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation from its range in the Indus River basin and other parts of South Asia possibly due to interbreeding with domestic zebu and resultant fragmentation of wild populations due to loss of habitat

Archaeological evidence including pictures on pottery and rocks suggests that the species were present in Egypt around 2000 BC and were thought to be imported from the near east or south. Bos indicus is believed to have first appeared in sub-Saharan Africa between 700 and 1500 and was introduced to the Horn of Africa around 1000.

Zebu Cattle – Characteristics

Zebu cattle are usually red or grey in colour, are horned, have loose skin, large ears and have a hump above their shoulders.

This breed is used for its milk, meat and as draft animals. In India they are sacred and are only used for draft and milk.

In Brazil and other meat producing countries they are produced largely for their beef as they cope better than european breeds in sub-tropical environments.


  • Heat tolerant
  • Parasite and disease resistance
  • Hardy
  • Milk, Meat and Draft


    Today the Zebu is present on all continents, mainly in India and Brazil, which has the largest commercial herd in the world, with 155 million head.

    India has over 270 million Zebu and the United States has over 2 million Zebu.

Zebu Cattle – Why it is is News?

India and Brazil for cooperation in the fields of Zebu Cattle Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

India and Brazil to promote and  development of Genomics and Assistant Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) in Cattle through joint activities to be implemented through mutually agreed procedures.

It  would promote and facilitate scientific cooperation and setting up of genomic selection programme in Zebu Cattle through

(a) application of genomic in Zebu Cattle and their crosses and buffaloes

(b) application of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) in cattle and buffaloes

(c) capacity building in genomic and assisted reproductive technology

(d) Related research and development in Genomics and ART in accordance with the respective laws and regulations of the two countries and is covered under Rule 7

India and Brazil for cooperation in the fields of Zebu Cattle Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

Rashtriya Gokul Mission

Raja Raja Cholan
About Raja Raja Cholan 659 Articles
Trainer & Mentor for aspirants preparing for civil service examination

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