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‘Girolando’ Cattle gaining popularity in Brazil
April 3, 2017

Dairy cows bred for tropical conditions are providing a cost-effective way of producing meat and milk for a growing market in Brazil.

Semex Australia general manager Jim Conroy told the Herd 17 crowd about the increasing popularity of the Girolando Cattle.

The breed is a cross between local Gyr cattle — which have high heat tolerance and can produce between 10,000-13,000 litres in a lactation — and the traditional Holstein breed. Gyr cattle are a bos indicus breed. Mr Conroy said purebred cattle only made up 9 per cent of the Brazilian dairy industry with the remainder cross breds. Half the cross breds are Girolando cattle — “in varying degrees of blood”.

Mr Conroy said the most effective cross has been five-eighths Holstein and three eighths Gyr producing a “fairly black and a bit blue” animal, which maintained enough Gyr blood for heat tolerance traits and disease resistance.

Work has been done to refine the head of the animal to a more traditional dairy style, cleaning up the brisket, rump and improving the udder depth. There are about 300,000 herd records of these cows which Mr Conroy said helped with progeny testing. When quizzed by the audience about the temperament of the breed, Mr Conroy said that was a huge focus of selection.

Following the presentation, Mr Conroy said the main market area for this breed was in the nations with a tropical climate, along the equator, which also had a growing taste for milk and beef. He said the tropical-adapted dairy cows were able to graze outside when conditions were suitable, removing the need for a reliance on expensive infrastructure such as fans, barns and other cooling equipment, which would be required to farm traditional dairy breeds in these regions.

Mr Conroy said the market in Australia’s tropical regions was too small to cost-effectively introduce the breed, but said the Gyr animal has a history in Australia.

A small number were bought into Queensland about 40 years ago because of their milk production and increased amount of “loose skin” (to help with heat tolerance).


Source: The Weekly Times


Summer 2018