Over Australia’s history, our livestock have evolved from solely being "British" breeds which have thrived in our southern temperate areas in particular, but haven’t fared as well in the heat of Northern Australia. Over the years Australia’s breeds have diversified so our livestock are in sync with the diverse environments around the country. For instance, tropical breeds such as Bos Indicus were introduced to overcome the tick and heat problems experienced by British breeds, Bos Taurus. Cross breeding between British and tropical breeds have introduced new breeds that bring the best of both worlds – livestock that lend themselves to tropical conditions and also mature quickly and grow muscle bulk rapidly.
Originating from Asia, Bos Indicus cattle generally have a larger frame and longer legs, allowing them to easily cover large and sparse areas of land in search of food and water. They are natural foragers which makes them adaptable to harsh drought conditions, making them a natural fit for humid, tropical regions like Northern Australia. Their slick, short-haired coats and naturally occurring sweat chemicals repel cattle ticks and other parasites. Some Bos Indicus breeds also produce a chemical in their tails to apply their own insect repellent when they swat flies. Cattle with Bos Indicus bloodlines can be distinguished by a hump sitting across their shoulders on their back. Similar to a camel, this is where fat is kept for tough times. They also have large floppy ears and a dewlap which helps to keep them cool. Common breeds of Bos Indicus include; Brahman, Droughtmaster, Santa Gertrudis, Brangus and Braford.
Did you know Australia Produces 3% of the world's beef & is the 3rd largest beef exporter in the world?
While beef is produced in every state and territory in Australia, nearly 50% of the national herd is located in Queensland, with most of Australia's cattle located on pasture-based properties and stations.
Bos Taurus cattle originated in Europe and are often referred to as "British" breeds. They prefer more temperate climates and are mostly found in the southern regions of Australia. They have thicker coats to weather cooler winters and do not have the notable hump of their Bos Indicus relatives. With a smaller frame, they mature more quickly and grow muscle bulk more rapidly than the Bos Indicus. Arguably the best known Bos Taurus breed is the Angus, which originates from Scotland. The Angus carries remarkable adaptability and quality genetics, regularly being used to strengthen other breeds of cattle through crossbreeding. Common breeds of Bos Taurus include Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn, Charolais, Simmental and Murray Grey.
Whats on the menu?
Australian livestock are born and raised on farms, two-thirds of cattle and almost all sheep and lambs spend their entire lives in this pasture-based environment. While the remaining one third of cattle are grainfed however spend the majority of their lives on farms.
For Australian cattle to be classified as ‘grassfed’ it needs to spend its entire life grazing pastures. Variations in seasonal and geographic factors influence the style and quality of grassfed beef. As demand for natural wholesome foods increases globally, Australian grassfed beef is being seen as an important component of a healthy diet. Raised exclusively on pasture Australian grassfed beef is naturally low in fat and cholesterol, while offering a higher level of Omega 3 fatty acids thought to lower blood pressure and reduce the risks of certain types of cancers. For these reasons consumers are increasingly seeking out lean grassfed meats.
Grainfed beef is derived from cattle that have been fed nutritionally balanced, high energy finished rations for a minimum specified number of days. Grainfed beef from Australia generally yields more consistent fat and meat colour. Typical feeding regimes in Australia are: short fed (100 to 150 days), medium fed (150 to 200 days) and long fed (200+ days). Livestock are fed a selection of grains including wheat, barley and sorghum. Grains are combined with lupins or field peas, by-products of cottonseed or canola and hay to deliver the necessary protein, carbohydrate, fat and roughage required to ensure nutritional requirements are met. Animal nutritionists are employed by feedlots to formulate the appropriate mix of energy, protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins to ensure livestock within the feedlot have a balanced diet. This feeding regime results in a more consistent product and enhanced marbling that contributes to improved tenderness, juiciness and flavour. Australian grainfed beef is regarded in many export markets as some of the best grainfed beef in the world.