Unlike that many other breeds of livestock, the history of Braford cattle isn't lost in the mists of time. Brafords date to the immediate post-World War II era -- where they were nearly simultaneously developed in Australia and the United States. Brafords are a cross between Brahman and Hereford cattle, hence their name.
The Braford breed was developed for beef production and durability. Along with the ability to thrive in difficult climates, the Braford cow is renowned for her maternal qualities. That includes high fertility, calving ease and milk production. Braford cows usually have longer reproductive lives than other breeds. Not only is the breed heat-tolerant, but it is insect-resistant and can fare better than other breeds under drought conditions. Although not bred for rodeo, the Braford is often used for that purpose in competition. Physically, the Braford sports the red-and-white coloring of the Hereford but is far stockier. The Braford's size derives from the Brahman ancestry.
In 1946, the Australian cattle industry was reeling from losses because of cattle tick infestation. The cattle tick (Rhipicephalus microplus) transmits many diseases and causes significant blood loss in affected animals. At the same time, eye cancer was devastating Hereford cattlemen, as animals with this common type of squamous cell carcinoma usually can't be sold for slaughter. Crossing Brahmans -- far more resistant to cattle ticks and less likely to develop eye cancer -- with Herefords led to the creation of this new cattle breed Down Under.
In 1947, Florida Brahman breeder Alto Adams Jr. started crossing Hereford bulls on his Brahman cows on his St. Lucie County ranch. Although impressed with the resulting crossbred calves, he discovered that the Hereford bulls didn't do well in Florida's extreme humidity and heat. By using the Hereford-Brahman bull crosses, he improved his herd's overall health. The Braford turned out to do very well in Florida and elsewhere.
In 1962, Braford breeders formed the Australian Braford Society. The International Braford Association was organized in 1969 by American breeders. In 1985, the American Hereford Association began registering Braford, but concentrated on breeding purebred animals -- mating Brafords to Brafords -- rather than crossing Herefords and Brahmans. The IBA and the AHA came together in 1994 to create the United Braford Breeders. Today, the breed is found primarily in the United States, Australia and Mexico.
- United Bradford Breeders: History of the Braford Breed in the United States
- The Cattle Site: Braford
- Australian Braford Society: Origin
- Cattle-Exchange: Braford
- Cattle.com: Braford Cattle
- Northern Territory Government: Cattle Ticks
- New South Wales Department of Primary Industries: Cancer Eye in Cattle
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.