General Info

Common breeds of Sheep

There are 3 main sheep breeds in Australia:

  1. Merinos:
  2. English Breeds: Longwool breeds like the Border Leicester, Lincoln, Cheviot, and Romney Marsh. Shortwool breeds such as the Southdown, Dorset Horn, Ryeland, Dorset Down, Suffolk, Shropshire Down & other Down breeds.
  3. Hybrids: Australia’s hybrid sheep are mainly produced by crossing merino with the English breeds. However, some of these sheep are now distinct breeds such as the Corriedale and Polwarth. Others are crossbreds or comebacks.

Common Breeds of Cattle

In Australia there are more than 30 different breeds of cattle suitable for beef production and breed selection depends largely on the climate of the region in which the cattle will be grown.

In the tropical regions of Northern Australia the Bos indicus breeds are used as they are resistant to cattle ticks and are better adapted to the high temperatures. Brahman cattle, one of the most common of the Bos indicus, have short, light coloured coats to reflect the sun and black skin that protects them from sunburn. They have loose skin and extra sweat glands to keep cool. The tropical breeds first came from Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean region of southern Europe.

In Southern Australia the Bos taurus breeds are used in the temperate climate as they mature quickly and have a rapid growth rate. The Angus and Hereford are two of the most common of the temperate breeds produced in Australia. The temperate breeds originally came from the cool climate areas of Europe, in particular Britain.

There are also some breeds that are bred to produce a special type of meat for a particular market, such as Wagyu beef which is highly regarded in the Japanese market and, increasingly, domestically.
Some of the main Bos indicus breeds are:

Belmont Red:  developed in Queensland, Australia in 1968.

Brahman: originate from the USA they calve easily, milk well and are very protective of their young.

Brangus:  developed from Brahman and Angus. They have reasonable heat and tick tolerance, are medium sized, average to late maturity and yield a carcase without excess fat.

Braford: a Hereford and Brahman cross that are heat resistant, relatively tick tolerant and slightly later maturing than the British breeds. Produce good yearling and steer carcasees.

Charbray:  A Charolais and Brahman cross animal that produces a high muscled lean carcase.

Droughtmaster: developed in Queensland and are a combination of Brahman, Shorthorn, with some mixture of Red Poll and Hereford.

Santa Gertrudis: originate from the USA, have a maternal/rotational/terminal place in cross breeding.

Common breeds of Goat

Anglo-Nubian is a British breed whose origins can be traced back to about 1850 when early endeavours to improve strains of British goats were made. Anglo-Nubians are not heavy milk producers, although they have developed into a popular milking breed in Australia having a high average fat yield, usually over 4%. They tend to be less seasonal breeders and carry more flesh than the Alpine breeds and are recognised as dual purpose (meat and milk) animals.

Angoras: were imported from Turkey in 1853 and later from South Africa and the United States. These animals went into many areas and numbers increased until the early 1900s when many flocks were dispersed. Interest in the breed increased in the late 1960s and grew rapidly through the 1970s. Angoras also provide meat which has a ready market, both domestically and for export.

British Alpine: is a tall, rangy and graceful dairy-type animal (that is, with a dished or straight facial line and a wedge-shaped body). The average height, measured at the withers, is about 83 cm for does and 95 cm for bucks. The breed is similar to the Saanen in structure and the Toggenburg in markings.

Saanens: the first of the improved dairy goat breeds to be brought into Australia, were first imported in 1913 by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture. Saanen does are heavy milk producers and usually yield between 3% and 4% fat.

Toggenburgs: are a popular breed of dairy goat in Australia. It originated in Obertoggenberg, Switzerland and was the first officially recognised breed of dairy goats. Toggenburgs do not generally produce as much milk as the Saanen breed but have consistently good udders and are known for their persistent milk production over long periods. Fat yield is usually between 3% and 4%.