The Droughtmaster was first developed in Queensland, Australia. It was the result of the crossing of British Cattle breeds and the Red Brahman. This led to the monster progeny becoming one of the most popular breeds in Australia.
The Droughtmaster, as mentioned above, is typical to the Queensland region of Australia, though it has become popular in other areas of the country. The breed came about after the crossing of English Shorthorn breeds and the Brahman breed. The mix is approximately 50% of each breed’s bloodline. The first shorthorn breeds, mainly Hereford, were crossed with the zebu breeds and when the animals were seen to withstand very hostile climatic conditions, they were
rebred again and again.
The breed is now primarily located in the Queensland area, though it has spread to other parts of Australia also, such as Cape York and New South Wales. It can also now be found, in small quantities, in Southeast Asia, Pakistan, Nigeria and many other pacific islands.
The breed was first developed in the 1900’s. British cattle breeds were popular in Australia back then, though they were struggling with the harsh climatic conditions. This coupled with the arrival of ticks in cattle to the scene, led to the establishment of the breed. It really came about through the experimentation of breeders. In 1910 reports say that three Zebu bulls arrived in Queensland, the first of which imported to the region. They were imported from Melbourne Zoo, where they were then crossed with mostly Herefords.
The progeny of these crosses were first spotted by Mr Monty Atkinson in 1928. The northern grazier spotted the animals coping with extremely high temperatures and drought. He was so impressed with what he saw that he set about attempting to develop the breed and help it develop further. A consignment of Brahman were then imported for Mr. Atkinson to commence his breeding programme in the early 1930’s and the rest as they say is history.
The stereotypical colour of the Droughtmaster is a red colour, though this can vary from golden honey to dark red. They are both polled and horned cattle, with the majority holding the poll characteristic.
They have medium to large sized ears, while they also have an extended dewlap. The Droughtmaster, like it’s Zebu ancestors, have a moderate hump on it’s back. Their skin pigmentation is red, which helps protect them from sun cancers, photosensitisation and sunburned udders.
The Droughtmaster is known for it’s ability to withstand unbearable heats. This enables them to live in the extremely high heats accustomed to the Queensland area.
The animal also has a resistance to attacks from ticks. As mentioned above, this is one of the main reasons they became popular in the area and were rebred to high numbers. They also, due to their ability to withstand warm temperatures, have more of a resistance to eye cancer than other breeds. They also have great digestive efficiency, meaning they gain more from their feed than most breeds.
The Droughtmasters are also known to be masters of fertility, females tend to take calf very easily while males have a good record of successful insemination. Females are also easy calvers, with calves born at low weights. The breed also has a quiet temperament making it easier to handle, while mothers have excellent maternal instincts. Females have high milk production traits while they also mature early. Some females can go into calf as early as 14 months. Bulls are usually docile, and again they mature earlier than most breeds.
The breed also shows medium to late carcass maturity. They have a good reputation of producing lean carcasses for 1-2 year steers, Though they are mainly produced into large bullocks in the Queensland area.
Droughtmasters exhibit medium to slightly late maturity in carcass development. They have gained a reputation for producing lean carcasses in the yearling to two year old steer group, although large bullocks are also massly produced, particularly in northern Queensland. The breed is well suited to beef production, with good average weight gains and a high dressing percentage.
The Droughtmaster, a lucky genetic mutation some may say, to others they are the master of harsh conditions.