From Gir to Girolando: the success story of Indian cattle in Brazil

Indian cattle

The Gir breed originates from India and arrived in Brazil at the end of the 19th century during the colonial period. This breed stood out for its resistance to heat stress and its ability to adapt to different types of pastures, fundamental characteristics for a country with a climate as diverse as Brazil.

The Gir breed is characterized by being an indigenous breed in which the cattle are red with white spots, large ears, dome-shaped heads and horns. Regarding its dairy production, it is notable for providing high quality milk rich in fat and protein.

Genetic Improvement – Girolando

The introduction of the Gir breed in Brazil marked the beginning of a revolution in dairy farming in this country. Producers realized the potential of this breed in terms of productivity and adaptability and began to develop selection and crossing programs to improve its desirable characteristics, thus creating the first Girolando cattle, a breed that combines the best qualities of the Gir with those of the Holstein breed, another breed known for its high milk production. The objective was to establish the racial standard in the racial composition 5/8 Dutch + 3/8 Gyr. Animals arising from mating between 5/8 individuals are considered as Pure Synthetic (PS), that is, the breed itself.

 

Indian cattle 1

 

On February 1, 1996, the Girolando was officially recognized as a breed by the Ministry of Agriculture and its sole delegate for the execution of the Genealogical Registration Service and the Genetic Improvement Program throughout the country is the Brazilian Association of Girolando Breeders.

Since 1989, the entity has registered several breed compositions permitted within the breed formation, ranging from the CCG 1/4 Holstein + 3/4 Gir to the CCG 7/8 Holstein + 1/8 Gir. Girolando cows have a peak in milk production that lasts until they are 8 years old and can continue producing until they are 15 years old.

Girolando is a classic example of genetic improvement in Brazil. Producers sought to combine the resilience and adaptability of Indian cattle with the high milk production of the Holstein. The result was a hybrid breed, which maintains the rusticity of the Gir and can withstand the country's adverse climatic conditions while at the same time presenting exceptional milk production.

Indian cattle

 

Girolando's rise in livestock farming was rapid and significant. Currently, the breed is bred throughout the country, occupying a prominent place in the national dairy industry. Its versatility and adaptability make it a choice for both small producers and large farms seeking maximum production efficiency.

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Features

The animals of the Girolando breed are characterized by having a black and white coat, depending on the percentage of each one in the cross, and large ears. Girolando females have excellent characteristics for production/breeding in tropical countries, such as pigmentation, strong hooves and legs, good ability to regulate body temperature and an udder with good sustainability. These females can begin calving at thirty months, with the interval between births being around 410 days. Regarding milk production, it is important to remember that the peak is reached at eight years of age, but they continue to produce until fifteen years of age. As for the average milk production, it is around 3.600 kg of milk in 305 days. It is said that a lifetime production is greater than 20.000 kg of milk. Girolando males have a great capacity for adaptation, are quite resistant to diseases and have a live weight gain comparable to any industrial cross for meat production.

Impact on Economy and Society

The growth of the Girolando breed in Brazilian cattle production boosted the country's dairy production, but also had significant economic and social impacts. Today the Girolando is responsible for 80% of milk produced in Brazil. The dairy industry is an important source of employment and income in rural areas, thus contributing to the socioeconomic development of these regions. In addition, Girolando is also exported to other countries such as the United States of America, Venezuela, Mexico, among others, strengthening the Brazilian economy and there is also the export of genetic material such as semen and embryos, which has proven to be a profitable source for the producers.

Indian cattle 2

Girolando males have a great capacity for adaptation, are quite resistant to diseases and have a live weight gain comparable to any industrial cross for meat production.

It should be noted that Indian cattle also plays an important role in meat production in Brazil. Its meat is recognized for its high quality with its characteristic marbling and striking flavor. In recent years there has been an increase in demand for quality meat on the domestic and foreign markets, further boosting the creation of Gir for meat production.

Conclusion

Brazil is a country known for its cultural and geographic diversity and its agriculture. Within this context, the history of Girolando in Brazil is fascinating and reveals the adaptability of a species as well as the ability of producers to make the most of natural and genetic resources.

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References

P. Cruz, “Efeito da composição genética nas características de termorregulação em vacas Girolando em Tapira, MG,” 2015. doi: https://doi.org/10.14393/ufu.di.2015.45.

“Girolando,” The Cattle site. Accessed: Apr. 12, 2024. [Online]. Available: https://www.thecattlesite.com/breeds/dairy/73/girolando/

A. Gusmão, “Gir ou Girolando: Descubra a diferença entre essas duas raças bovinas,” CompreRural. Accessed: Apr. 12, 2024. [Online]. Available: https://www.comprerural.com/gir-ou-girolando-descubra-a-diferenca-entre-essas-duas-racas-bovinas/

N. Mendonça, O. Melo Neto, A. Carmo, R. Taveira, O. Silveira Neto, and L. Y. Barboza, “Avaliação da tolerância ao calor de vacas de diferentes composições raciais Holandês x Gir no estado de Goiás,” Observatório Latino Americano, Mar. 05, 2024. Accessed: Apr. 12, 2024. [Online]. Available: https://ojs.observatoriolatinoamericano.com/ojs/index.php/olel/article/view/3625

W. Canaza-Cayo et al., “Genetic trend estimates for milk yield production and fertility traits of the Girolando cattle in Brazil,” Livestock Science, vol. 190, pp. 113–122, Aug. 2016, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2016.06.009.

S. R. Cardoso, L. B. Queiroz, V. A. Goulart, G. B. Mourão, E. Benedetti, and L. R. Goulart, “Productive performance of the dairy cattle Girolando breed mediated by the fat-related genes DGAT1 and LEP and their polymorphisms,” Research in Veterinary Science, vol. 91, no. 3, pp. e107–e112, 2011, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rvsc.2011.02.006

Ana Vanessa Dias Sousa (Researcher FeedInov CoLAB)

About the author

With a degree in Veterinary Sciences from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, she worked for five years as a field veterinarian and in a pig and cattle feed factory. She worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a sales manager and technical support for pigs, cattle, rabbits and poultry in mainland Portugal and the Azores. She is currently at Feedinov Colab as a Researcher in the One Health Department.

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