The sales of zebu cattle should help increase Brazilian exports to the Middle East. Brazil started selling live animals to the region in 2003. This global market is estimated in US$ 700 million and is concentrated in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where religious reasons demand special procedures for slaughtering the animals.
by Simone Mateos
Nowadays these countries are supplied by Australia, but the Brazilian cattle has many advantages. Because of a long process of genetic selection, the country today has the best reproductive breeds of zebu cattle in the world.
On top of everything, Brazil is closer to the main Middle Eastern ports than Australia, reducing transport costs as well as stress levels on the animals.
Another advantage of the zebu cattle is that it is the species that best adapts to tropical climates. Furthermore, since it only feeds on pasture, the main worry amongst beef consumers is eliminated: the mad cow disease, which comes from cattle ingestion of animal protein.
Brazil is advancing in it’s bovine genetic technology exports to the Arab countries. It was this genetic technology that allowed the country to have the most competitive beef in the world.
Brazilian Cattle Genetics (BCG), a consortium created by the Brazilian Zebu Breeders Association (ABCZ) in December 2002 to stimulate exports, is negotiating with Egypt a project to be implemented by Brazilian technicians in the Arab country.
The project includes the supply of embryos of the best breeds, training of people for the fertilization processes, supply of the most adequate pasture seeds, vaccines and, if necessary, projects for milk processing and beef factories.
“Brazilian expertise in improving bovine genetics is already acknowledged around the world, and now we will show we are also unbeatable in setting up the right infrastructure for our cattle,” says the zoo technician Gerson Simão, executive manager at BCG.
He points out that after only 18 months in business, BCG will probably multiply Brazilian exports of genetic resources and cattle technology by 10.
Other than exporting these technologies to Egypt, BCG has set a partnership with the University of Alexandria to research the crossing of Brazilian zebu nelore with Egyptian zebu baladi, always aiming the improvement of the race.
Brazilian advances in the area speak for themselves: in the 1940s the Brazilian nelore would reach 600 kg in six years. Today, it reaches 1,100 kg in 30 months. This was obtained through traditional genetic selection improvement, and now the process will speed up with the advances on national biotechnology.
With the reproductive technologies developed by Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), it is possible to obtain more offspring from selected bulls: if with traditional procreation a cow could generate one calf a year, through in vitro fertilization, embryo cloning and implanting in other cows, one single cow can generate 120 calves a year.
As well as this, Brazilian scientists have already identified 16 genes in the zebu related to greater milk production or to rapid weight gain. With this, soon it will be possible to select the best embryos without having to wait for them to grow, and then see which have inherited the good genes and which haven’t.
Another important technology expertise the country dominates is the separation of male and female sperm so that breeders of milk cattle or beef cattle may have calves of the appropriate sex.
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency
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