Cattle breeds: Braford
Series: Agfact A2.3.10 Edition: Fourth edition Last updated: 07 Mar 2001
The Braford breed originated at ‘Edengarry’ north of Rockhampton in Queensland in 1946 when the Rea Brothers introduced Brahman bulls into their Hereford breeders to help combat the effects of drought and ticks. The breed is now established with 50% Brahman and 50% Hereford blood.
A Braford herd is at home in all environments. Braford commercial and stud herds are successfully operating under every climatic condition Australia has to offer, as well as those in New Zealand, proving Brafords’ adaptability.
There are now well over 25,000 registered Brafords, mainly in Queensland and New South Wales.
- The breed has a smooth sleek coat, basically red and white in colour. In cool climates their coats tend to be thicker in winter. Whilst a variation in degree of the red colour occurs and is acceptable, the markings are similar to that of a Hereford and Poll Hereford; hence the Braford is an ideal animal for crossbreeding with Herefords and Poll Herefords, as colour problems are not experienced with the progeny.
- Some degree of Brahman inheritance is evident in their appearance, the breed having a hump, a low-set pizzle, a loose dewlap and droopy ears.
- Brafords have hooded eyes and good pigmentation around the eyes, providing protection and resistance to eye cancer, pinkeye and blight.
- The infusion of Bos indicus has also given the breed a high tolerance to bloat. Although bloat may occur, losses are a rarity. The value of such an attribute is greatly appreciated when cattle are grazed on clover and bloat-producing pastures.
- Brafords are heat-tolerant and relatively tick-resistant.
- Brafords can be either polled or horned—the latter are usually dehorned.
- A strong point of the Braford is the breeding female, with her excellent reputation for fertility and her ability to rear a top vealer. Combine this with her reputation for ease of calving and you have one very productive female. Mating age for females is generally from 15 months old, depending on the conditions in which they are run.
- Young bulls are on average capable of working in a commercial situation from 18 months to 2 years old onwards.
- Braford sires have tremendous weight for age, with mature bulls averaging 900–1000 kg.
- Mature cows average 550–750 kg.
- Carcases from the slightly larger and later maturing animals tend to be well muscled, with a minimum of waste when slaughtered as yearlings and steers.
Brafords are particularly suitable for commercial breeders seeking the advantages of hybrid vigour by direct crossing with any breed. For example, the hybrid vigour gives the progeny from a Hereford × Braford cross a better growth rate and the ability to handle the extremes in hot and cold weather.
Brafords excel in a feedlot situation. Their feed conversion ability has been proven repeatedly in past years, with wins and places in many of the carcase challenges across the country. For example, over 100 days, 18–20-month-old steers can put on an average of 2.45 kg/day with a feed efficiency of 5.3 to 1. The finished product has even fat distribution, bright red meat and white fat, which is ideal.
It is not only Braford sires which can provide the Braford benefit in a crossbreeding program—commercial cattle producers have found that the Braford female, with her milking and mothering ability, fits well into breeding programs where European beef breeds such as Simmental, Limousin, Blonde d’Aquitaine and Charolais are being used.
Some markets specify a maximum of 25% Bos indicus for some grades. This can be achieved by using a registered Braford bull over Hereford or English breeds, or by using a Poll Hereford bull over Braford cows, thereby maximising the great traits of the Braford female.
The Australian Braford Society
The Australian Braford Society was formed in 1962 in Rockhampton. For details on breeder locations or for more information on the Braford breed, contact the Society at:
PO Box 749
Rockhampton QLD 4702
Ph: (07) 4927 5196
Fax: (07) 4927 5708
This Agfact is based on information provided by the Australian Braford Society. Their contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
Photographs supplied courtesy of the Australian Braford Society.
Author: Bruce Mackay, Roy Hurst