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Characteristics Of South African Dairy Breed Cattle

The first and formal adoption of the world Brahman originated with the inception of the American Brahman Breeders Association (ABBA) in 1924. Cattlemen attending their organizational meeting wrestled with the question of what to name this American Bos Indicus breed that Mr JW Startwelle called “… an entirely new breed of beef cattle”. Mr Startwelle, however the first Secretary of ABBA and early driving force of their association, was indeed historically instrumental, when he suggested the word Brahman.

The Early History in Southern Africa:

The introduction of the Brahman to the South African beef cattle scene originated back in 1954 when Mr Jurgen Crantz, of Windhoek, in South West Africa as they knew it in those days, initially imported eight males and ten females from Texas, USA, to be landed at Cape Town harbour.

Five of these bulls originated from Mr JD Hudgins, Texas, while one came from Mr Albert B Fay, Texas, another one from Mr VW Frost, Texas, as one from Laxy 3 Ranch, Texas. All ten females were from the famous JD Hudgins Ranch. We today salute the inspirations and motivations of Mr Jurgen Crantz of Namibië as the pioneer who unknowingly laid the foundation of what would have become a major breed in the production of red meat in Southern Africa.

Mr W Woker of Windhoek, South West Africa, Nuanetzi Ranch Ltd., the Normar stud of Mr AI Marais and Mr C Scheepers, all from South Africa made other early imports in 1954. Breeders who were particularly prominent by importing many animals between 1954 and 1971 were, among others, JFW Herbst and son, JB Orpen of the Bar Circle Stud, Sisal Brahmans of Mr Eric Bilse, Ban Cattle Co. of Mr Louis Bosman, D Terblanche, RELH Hunt, the Code Brahman Stud of Mr AJ Coetzer and Mr BJ Maritz.

The remarkable growth and demand for the breed:

The contribution Brahmans have made towards the South African stud and commercial industry can be described as remarkable, especially during the first three decades starting in 1960. The distinctive appearance of the Brahman during the coming decade sets them apart from any other traditional beef breed in South Africa. The hump on top of its shoulders, large pendulous ears, abundant folds of skin and distinctive colour has contributed towards the phenomenal growth being recorded in those days.

The membership of 41 in 1960 increased by 465.85 % within the first ten years, births during the same period by 1 296.64 %, registrations 581.63 % and transfers by 1 542,64 %. This brought the Brahman into the limelight after only 10 years and remarks by the press such as the “Brahman is like a Chameleon because he adapts everywhere” were made in those days. The use of the Brahman as a maternal line has become significant due to the dramatic changes in the composition of our national beef population in South Africa.

Official figures show that where the Afrikaner represented almost 45 % of the market share in 1965, the situation changed dramatically in 1985 to retain only 7.0 % of the registrations at the SA Stud Book and Livestock Improvement Association. Brahman registrations on the other hand increased from 4.4 % to almost 57.0 % during the same period. Currently there are 572 members with a total number of +60 000 enrolled animals.

Gerald Crawford was born in South Africa, studied electronics, telecommunication, eco-travel and african travel concepts. He taught responsible tourism in South Africa. If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me on. E-mail Address: Website Address: