Although other strains of Bos Indicus (Asian cattle) had been imported earlier, the breed now known as Brahman was first imported by a group of Queensland cattlemen in 1933. Brahman cattle were developed in the USA from Indian strains to produce a beef animal adapted to harsh tropical conditions.
Originally called Zebu cattle, some Bos Indicus animals were imported from India in the early 1900s. The American-bred Brahman cattle were imported to the coastal areas of northern Queensland in a venture supported by the CSIRO.
According to the Australian Brahman Breeders Association, Brahman cattle have many qualities that make them resistant to heat. These include a slower metabolic rate which generates less internal heat, their dark pigmented skin which dissipates heat, more efficient sweat glands, a sleek coat that reflects the sun and an increased area of loose skin. They are also resistant to ticks and internal parasites and have a unique digestive system that allows them to prosper on more varied and less lush feed.
Brahman cattle have been interbred with other tropical beef breeds from America, Africa and India. The introduction of Bos Indicus types has transformed the northern Australian cattle industry. Cattle production in northern Australia is now largely based on these breeds. In southern Australia, where conditions are less challenging, British, European and Japanese breeds dominate.