Brazil presents the highest rate of cultivable areas in the planet. Recent data (from the Territorial Range of Environmental Legislation report and the Consolidation of Agricultural Use of Land in Brazil) show that the potential area for agriculture and cattle raising in the country ranges from 303 million to 366 million hectares, that is, from 36% to 43% of the national territory. When the Amazon and Pantanal biomas are not considered, the percentage of area that can be legally used for agriculture and cattle breeding varies from 57% to 71% of the territory. This means a more than high potential for growing pastures, the zebu's food base. The Brazilian herd doesn't stop progressing in terms of technology and productivity, and 80% of the country's bovine stocks present some degree of zebu blood, the “grass bull”.
Raised on pasture (when the food is supplemented, the ration has always a vegetable origin) and with strong investments in improvement, the Brazilian zebu has gained international recognition, performed a historical leap in exportations, led Brazil to the top in terms of the amount of beef sold in other countries. What was once considered the “bull of the future” now is already the desired bull: the green bull or ecological bull. An animal that feeds from pasture with no risk of toxins.
The Brazilian Association of Zebu Breeders (ABCZ, in the Portuguese abbreviation) is the world's greatest cattle breeding association, existing thanks to the courage of the pioneers who brought to the country copies of the Indian cattle, rustic and adaptable to tropical and subtropical climates, thus transforming cattle breeding in Brazil. It is an institution charged by the Ministry of Agriculture, Cattle Breeding and Food Supply (MAPA) with carrying out the genealogical register of zebuine breeds. It also develops a recognized genetic improvement work aiming at the quality in beef and milk production.
The work of promoting the eight breeds is carried out in a partnership with the respective associations, which have great merits in the results the world watches today. They have successfully performed their duty of promoting the breeds.
Sindhi – Among the zebuine animals, the sindhi – a tropical animal, capable of adapting to different situations – presents itself as an excellent economic feasibility for farming. With a double aptitude and the genetic ability to remain alive and productive, it is a profitable alternative. The sindhi is able to balance its own size, body area, metabolism and milk productivity, which results in a docile animal, with harmonious forms and a high carcass yielding in slaughter. In tests of technical slaughter, it has already presented a carcass yielding of 58%. Characterized by precocious finishing, high beef yielding and quality, it is a herd for small areas, including those having poor quality forages. Therefore, it produces great profitability. There are cows with official lactation over 20 kg of milk per day.
The sindhi is a millennial breed, which includes
registers dating back more than 5,000 years and is very used in other breeds' improvement, in India and Pakistan. The adaptation ensures offspring in regular periods, maternal ability and profitable weaning, and the selectability allows for more quickness in the finishing process.
The genuine, millennial Bos indicus blood was detected in nearly two hundred cows tested through mitochondrial DNA, able to start new maternal lineages and to encourage selection works, aiming at beef and milk production.
Gir – Over 54 years, the Brazilian Association of Gir Breeders (Assogir) has taken care of the gir breeders' interests, supporting and preserving the environment; promoting the economic and social development, studying and researching, developing alternative technologies, producing and divulgating information and technical-scientific knowledge focused on these herds of double aptitude: beef and milk, with the potential to provide use with carcass quality.
In the 40's, meeting the market demands, the polled gir (with no horns) was produced, a variety which keeps on expanding, presenting the same traits and functions of the traditional gir. The Genealogical Register of Polled Gir has been started in 1976. With good temper, excellent-quality milk and weaning of heavy calves, the gir breed presents itself as the base for both beef and milk crossbreeding, introducing its rusticity and generating productive, well-adapted animals.
Milk Gir – The milk gir breed conquers more and more investors, who foresee its potential and economic profitability. Percentually, it is the herd which currently shows the higher increase in Brazil, establishing as the greatest semen exporter and milk producer for the tropics. Its ideal condition for raising animals is pasture, attracting interests in many markets, mostly due to the need of a sustainable production. The accurate selection of these animals, with the use of genetic improvement programs, has allowed high profitability and increase in milk production with lower costs.
Among the several services developed in order to enhance bovine selection, the Brazilian Association of Milk Gir Breeders (ABCGIL), in a partnership with the Embrapa Milk Cattle, has created the Progeny Test, aiming at selecting bulls with milk potential. The ABCZ, in its turn, develops annually the Bulls Summary of the milk gir breed, based on the milk control of its daughters. Today, this zootechnical test counts on nearly 310 thousand controls carried out, where genetic evaluations for milk production and fatness are generated. Both the Bull Summary and the Progeny Test guide the selection work in Brazilian farms. Today, the milk gir breed also presents itself as the main alternative for crossbreeding, in particular with the Dutch breed, generating the girolando synthetic breed in its various degrees of blood.Guzerat –The guzerat breed has stood out due to its quality and liquidity, confirming the versatility in crossbreeding, contributing strongly to the country's milk and beef cattle breeding and presenting a remarkable genetic advancement, thanks to the persistent work of the Brazilian Association of Guzerat Breeders. The ABCG believes the limits for the guzerat breed are still far from being achieved. The breed with lyre-shaped horns, with the preponderance conferred by racial purity, comprises rustic animals. More than 90% of the Brazilian farms that practice milking daily present the Indian breed's blood within their milk herds. In this context, the guzerat adds a high rusticity to production. An animal which presents double aptitude (beef and milk) and an outstanding maternal ability on the part of females, the guzerat came to Brazil as an already capable breed. It can adapt to tropical temperatures and digest rough forages easily, besides being very resistant to ectoparasites. The crossbreeding with the white cattle from Brazil's central region, the guzonel, anticipates slaughter weight in nearly six months, mostly where lands are weak.
Indubrazil – In order to promote the development, genetic improvement and divulgation of the indubrazil breed, the Brazilian Association of Indubrazil Breeders was founded in 1962. Since then, new breeders have emerged in the whole tropical world. In Brazil, excellent breeding stocks are being improved, with the pursue of functional morphology, focused on productivity gains – the matings of the best selectors are already based on the genetic evaluations of the modern animal improvement.
The indubrazil has everything to grow strongly over the next years, using its genetic to enhance results in industrial crossbreedings The idea of forming a national breed of zebus, through miscegenation, was born from the desire of allying each one's qualities. Three of them have contributed to form the breed. First, the guzerat and the nelore, and later the gir. The indubrazil has always been very used in crossbreeding: the indolando, the product from the cross with Dutch cattle, is an example of excellent result in milk production.
Tabapua – The Brazilian Association of Tabapua Breeders (ABCT) develops a permanent work in the pursue of the breed's fertility and precocity. A too heavy animal at weaning, the base of its birth rate is placed in the age of the first calving and in the interval between calvings, which is considered one of the most important factors for profitability in cattle breeding. In addition, it is considered an animal of significant carcass finishing.
The tabapua has distinguished phenotypical characteristics, which offer advantages in terms of slaughterhouse industry, such as cylindrical carcass, which provides a carcass yielding superior than 50%. Due to its qualities for beef production and maternal ability, the tabapua are more and more used in crossbreedings.
The breeders count on two genetic improvement programs to help them in the selection of their animals – the Zebuine Genetic Improvement Program, by ABCZ, and the Genetic Evaluation Program of the Tabapua Breed Sires, carried out by the ABCT, aiming at detecting animals provenly identified as improvers of the breed.
Brahman – The Brazilian Association of Brahman Breeders (ACBB) demonstrates its efforts at the improvement of the breed, which is extremely precocious, has high quality of carcass finishing, excellent maternal ability and good temper. Important announcements have been made for this herd, which had a genetic process adapted to pasture production in Brazil.
In addition to the work developed by ABCZ in the breed's Bulls Summary, the ACBB has recently started PROBRAHMAN, the first Progeny Test for Brahman, aiming at evaluating young bulls. From these results, the Association will provide accurate genetic evaluations for bulls, which will allow the choice and the use of sires' semen according to the objectives of each breeder's selection.
Another important announcement is the creation of the exclusive germplasm bank, a specific mechanism for the conservation of Brahman bulls' genetic material. The bank will be formed with the semen of the participants of PROBRAHMAN. The formation of this germplasm bank is important, mostly to conserve some distinguished genes, which in the future can be essential in the maintenance of the genetic variability of Brahman herds in the country. In crossbreedings, the breed has showed efficiency in food conversion and reduction of the slaughter time.
Nelore – The herds of the nelore, a versatile breed, with capacity for adaptation and high productive potential, aggregate nearly 120 million heads. With the proposal of bringing the links of the production chain closer together, the Brazilian Association of Nelore Breeders (ACNB), founded in 1954, constitutes the Nelore National Net for diffusing the breed's genetics and develops projects such as the Green Bull Circuit of Carcass Judging, the University of Bull and Beef, the Genetic Improvement Program of Nelore Breed (PMGRN), the Natural Nelore Quality Program, the Official Nelore Auctions and the ACNB National Ranking.
It is also the breed with the biggest number of animals tested in the ABCZ's Genetic Improvement Program. The nelore is very resistant to heat, due to its great number of sudoriferous glands, the dark skin and the white hair coat. Today, the breed's carcass traits allow for meeting different markets, thanks to its medium size and the smaller proportion of its head, paws and viscera, with exceptional yielding in industrial processes. Its bulls have a strong protective instinct, while the females have easy calving and maternal ability. The calves are born small, showing vivacity to raise up by themselves in the search for the first milk in a short time, developing quickly.
Attentive to the trends of the economy and the market, the ACNB has proposed to the production chain the Natural Nelore Quality Program (PQNN), a beef bovine production system based on proceedings that take advantage from natural conditions. The breed is raised in pastures and has an increasingly rigorous phytosanitary control, thus ensuring a higher-quality beef with social and ecological sustainability.