Criollo cattle: Heritage genetics for arid landscapes

TitleCriollo cattle: Heritage genetics for arid landscapes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsAnderson D.M., Estell RE, Gonzalez AL, Cibils AF
Start Page62
Date Published04/2015
ARIS Log Number309144
Keywordsdry lands, foraging, livestock, Mexican cattle

Thirty cows and three bulls from the Chinipas region in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, were introduced onto the US Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service’s Jornada Experimental Range (JER) in 2005.  Since then behavioral research has revealed these cattle, most accurately referred to as Raramuri Criollo (RC) cattle, appear well adapted to the harsh and variable climate of the Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem characterized by abundant woody vegetation and highly variable spatial and temporal precipitation. Observations to date indicate Criollo cattle are thrifty, docile, easy-to-manage, have a long and productive lifespan and require minimal management.  Research from Arizona suggests Criollo beef is flavorful and equal in tenderness to that of European breeds managed under similar grass-fed production systems.  The JER is maintaining the pure genetics of RC cattle that have undergone many years of natural selection in Mexico to study their nutritional and behavioral characteristics.  If these cattle have traits that are desirable in these fragile ecosystems they could have a positive influence on crossbreeding programs for animals destined to dominate arid landscapes.