Brahman Cattle are Adaptable to Hot Harsh Climates
Brahmans have dark skin pigmentation, which filters the intense rays of the sun as well as keeps the breed free of cancer eye. Other environmental adaptations which make the Brahman breed so well suited to so many areas of the country include the ability to utilize lower-quality feed, to travel longer distances for feed and water, and to resist insects and external parasites while withstanding vast climactic differences. They also have the ability to reproduce on a regular basis in a stressful environment. Brahman cattle show no effect from extremely high temperatures.
A factor which contributes to the Brahman’s unique ability to withstand temperature extremes is a short, thick, glossy hair coat which reflects much of the sun’s rays, allowing them to graze in midday sun without suffering. In severe winters, Brahmans grow a protective covering of long, coarse hair beneath which a dense, downy, fur-like undercoat can be found. An abundance of loose skin, characteristic of the breed, also aids in its ability to withstand warm weather by increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling. In cold weather the skin is contracted, increasing the thickness of the hide and density of the hair, which aids in retaining body heat. A special feature of the Brahman breed is their ability over other breeds to sweat freely, which contributes greatly to their heat tolerance.
Adaptability and Complementarity makes Brahman Cattle the favored breed for improvement in many beef cattle operations.
Breeds can be combined to create new genetic packages more useful for some applications by combining results in progeny with both the strengths and weaknesses of the base breeds. However, breed strengths can be exploited and weaknesses minimized through complementarity, which derives not just from combining but from how combinations are made.
An example of complementarity is the use of large sires on small dams. In this way, more calf weight can be produced from the cow weight maintained, so efficiency is improved. This benefit declines if heifers are retained since they are larger than their dams. So, maximum complementarity requires a terminal breeding system.
Some terminal systems can be complex and difficult to carry out. For these reasons and the similarity in size today among breeds, there will probably not be much complementarity obtained due to size.
In subtropical climates of the U. S., complementarity can be realized from crossing Brahman sires on Bos Taurus cows to develop Brahman base cows that adapt well to this climate.