Cattle adapted to tropical and subtropical environments: social, nutritional, and carcass quality considerations. Academic Article uri icon


  • Beef production needs to increase from 60 million to 130 million tons by 2050 to feed a growing world population, and 70% of this production increase is expected from beef industries located in subtropical and tropical regions of the world. Bos indicus-influenced cattle predominate in these regions but are often managed using practices developed for Bos taurus breeds reared in temperate climates. Hence, a fundamental step to meet the increasing global demand for beef is to develop specific management for B. indicus-influenced cattle in tropical or subtropical environments. Bos taurus and B. indicus are different subspecies, and diverge in social and biological functions due to selection pressure caused by complex evolutionary and domestication processes. Bos indicus cattle display different social responses compared with B. taurus counterparts, which must be taken into account by management planning as these traits directly impact cattle performance and welfare. In tropical and subtropical regions, warm-season perennial C4 grasses are the dominant forages, and their availability has a significant influence on the productivity of beef cattle systems. The resilience of C4 grasses under adverse conditions is one of their most important characteristics, even though these forages have reduced nutritive value compared with forages from temperate climates. Accordingly, nutritional planning in tropical and subtropical conditions must include management to optimize the quantity and quality of C4 forages. Nutritional requirements of cattle raised within these conditions also require special attention, including inherent metabolic compromises to cope with environmental constraints and altered energy requirements due to body composition and heat tolerance. Nutritional interventions to enhance beef production need to be specifically tailored and validated in B. indicus-influenced cattle. As an example, supplementation programs during gestation or early life to elicit fetal programming or metabolic imprinting effects, respectively, yield discrepant outcomes between subspecies. Bos indicus-influenced cattle produce carcasses with less marbling than B. taurus cattle, despite recent genetic and management advances. This outcome is mostly related to reduced intramuscular adipocyte volume in B. indicus breeds, suggesting a lesser need for energy stored intramuscularly as a mechanism to improve thermotolerance in tropical and subtropical climates.

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Cooke, R. F., Daigle, C. L., Moriel, P., Smith, S. B., Tedeschi, L. O., & Vendramini, J.

citation count

  • 10

publication date

  • January 2020