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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 1

I Groping In A Strange Environment: 1788-1851

II Farmers Take The Initiative: 1851-1888

III Enter Education And Science: 1888-1927

IV Agricultural Science Pays Dividends: 1927-1987

V Examples Of Research And Development 1928-1988
i Land assessment
ii Improving the environment
iii Adapting to the environment
iv Improving farm management

VI International Aspects Of Agricultural Research

VII Future Prospects

VIII Acknowledgements



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Cattle for Northern Australia (continued)

Using Hereford, Shorthorn, Africander and Brahman cattle and their crosses, detailed comparisons were made in terms of fertility, growth, heat tolerance, tick resistance, coat type, reactions to helminth parasites, carcass quality, water requirements and ability to utilize poor quality feed. In the light of the results obtained during the first few years of investigation, later research emphasised fertility, growth (i.e. weight gain) and tick resistance. By selecting on productivity standards, instead of colour and conformation, a new breed, the Belmont Red, was developed from crossing Afticanders (50 per cent) with Herefords (25 per cent) and Shorthorns (25 per cent). By using Belmont Red bulls in commercial herds of largely British breeds the progeny are successively up-graded to produce stock of higher fertility, better growth and improved adaptation to tropical or sub-tropical conditions.

Cattle breeders have also used Brahman (i.e. Zebu) bulls to upgrade herds of British breeds into standardised Brahman-cross types, which have subsequently been registered as breeds, such as the Droughtmaster, Braford and Brangus.

The geneticists and animal physiologists at Rockhampton, led successively by Drs. J. M. Rendel, H. G. Turner, and J. E. Vercoe, have successfully analysed the adaptive characters of cattle, such as heat tolerance, resistance to parasitic and other diseases, and low maintenance requirements, together with productive characters such as appetite (voluntary food intake) and growth rates. They have found that physiological attributes that are associated with adaptation to the tropics are often negatively correlated with productive characters. Therefore they have shown that when breeding cattle for a particular environment it is necessary to consider compromises in any selection program which seeks to include both adaptive and productive characteristics. [80]

In addition to producing the Belmont Red cattle, the importance of the research undertaken in Queensland is that it has yielded fundamental information on the physiology of adaptation and the ways in which important physiological characteristics can best be incorporated in breeding programs. This information is now being used by animal geneticists throughout the world.

While studies on beef cattle breeding were in progress at Rockhampton, parallel investigations were being undertaken by CSIRO with tropical dairy cattle at Badgery's Creek in New South Wales. Because earlier work had shown that Brahman cattle from Queensland were temperamentally unsuited to dairying, the Badgery's Creek program was based on crossing Jersey cattle (Bos taurus) with Red Sindhi and Sahiwal (Bos indicus) stock which were presented to Australia by the Government of Pakistan in 1952. As the cross-breeding program progressed under the leadership of Mr. R. H. Hayman, it became obvious that the progeny of Sindhi stock were inferior to Sahiwal crosses and therefore further selections were concentrated on the Sahiwals.

By selecting exclusively on characteristics such as milk and butterfat yield, heat tolerance, tick resistance and temperament, mating cross-bred generations within themselves, and progeny testing bulls, the project has resulted in a new type of tropical dairy cow, called the Australian Milking Zebu (AMZ). Although the opportunities for dairying in Australia's tropical north are limited, the AMZ has been used on the north coast of New South Wales, where it was shown to be at least equal in yield to European breeds and superior in terms of tick resistance. It has also been exported to Papua New Guinea and to some Asian countries.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - CSIRO; National Cattle Breeding Centre

People in Bright Sparcs - Hayman, R. H.; Rendel, Dr J. M.; Turner, Dr H. G.; Vercoe, Dr J. E.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 46, Online Edition 2000
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