Santa Gertrudis cattle

Santa Gertrudis cattle are a tropical beef breed of cattle developed in southern Texas on the King Ranch. They were named for the Spanish land grant where Captain Richard King originally established the King Ranch. This breed was officially recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1940, becoming the first beef breed formed in the United States. The origin given by King Ranch is that it was formed by mating Brahman bulls with Beef Shorthorn cows, with the final composition being about three-eighths Brahman and five-eighths Shorthorn. In 1918, the King Ranch purchased 52 bulls of three-quarters to seven-eighths Bos indicus breeding to mate with 2500 pure-bred Shorthorn cows on the ranch. At this time, the American Brahman breed as such did not exist, nor were purebred Bos indicus cattle available in the United States.[1]

Monkey was born in 1920, a son of Vinotero, one of the bulls purchased in 1918. This bull became the foundation sire for the breed. With the birth of Monkey and a decision to line-breed came a very uniform and very hearty breed of beef cattle. These cattle are red in color, display a blend of Bos indicus and Bos taurus attributes, and may be polled or horned. Other characteristics include good milking ability, good beef production, excellent mothering ability, ease of calving, high heat tolerance and parasite resistance, and an ability to market or harvest a steer at just about any age. The steers also show good weights for their age, as well as good weight gains whether on pasture or in a feedlot.

In 1950, the Santa Gertrudis Breeders International Association was formed at Kingsville, Texas.

Santa Gertrudis cattle are known the world over for their ability to adapt to harsh climates. They were exported to Australia around 1951 and have been subjected to inspection and classification since then. The Santa Gertrudis Breeders (Australia) Association was established in 1954 and the Santa Gertrudis Group Breedplan has operated in Australia since 1994. Anna Creek, Australia's largest cattle station, raises Santa Gertrudis.

About 11,500 of these cattle are registered in the United States.

Breed characteristics

The breed is red, occasionally with white markings on the underline, and has a short, smooth, slick coat. Santa Gertrudis cattle show many of the Bos indicus characteristics: the hide is loose and with neck and navel folds; the male has a small Zebu-type hump. Ears are medium to large and individuals are horned or polled. The female is noted for her ease of calving and milking ability.

The breed is noted for heat tolerance, as well as tick and bloat resistance. Carcasses from very young cattle develop a large eye muscle of meat with little or no waste fat. Older steers yield well, with minimum fat cover acceptable to premium world markets. Weight for age is a noted attribute of the breed. Quality and uniformity in registered cattle is enforced by a rigid classification system by the breed association.


  1. . Referenced February 17, 2008.
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