Santa Gertrudis cattle were first bred in Texas in the United States of America on King Ranch, a very large ranch which was subject to extremely harsh climatic conditions. This inherited ability has given the breed the versatility and capability to adapt to suit a wide variety of cattle operations.

Until about 1880 the King Ranch ran Longhorn cattle, which were hardy specimens but did not produce a good carcass.

European cattle breeds were then experimented with and after 1910 crosses between Shorthorn and Brahman (Bos Indicus) cattle began, with promising results. The breakthrough came in 1920 when a calf named ‘Monkey’ was born. Named “Monkey’ because of his playful disposition, he was highly regarded for his conformation and his prepotency as a sire.

‘Monkey’ sired more than 150 useful sons, before his death in 1932, which became widely used through the King Ranch Herd.

By 1940 a large herd of these improved cattle had been evolved on King Ranch with the animals breeding true to type. In that year the breed was recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture as a pure breed.

The first Santa Gertrudis cattle reached Australia in the 1930s but it was not until 1952 that King Ranch (Australia) brought in a shipment of 75 bulls and 200 heifers. The Santa Gertrudis Breeders (Australia) Association was formed in 1953. Today you’ll find Santa Gertrudis in all States of Australia.

In 1950 the Santa Gertrudis Breeders International was formed at Kingsville, Texas. The Association accepts fourth generation animals as eligible for classification as purebreds providing they meet the requirements of the Standard of Excellence for the breed upon visual inspection by an official Association Field Director.

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Santa Gertrudis started in New Zealand in 1969 by Trevor McHardy Dave Ritchie and Richie Dillon. The office was established at John Sloane in Waipawa with him being Secretary, and Trevor McHardy as Chairman, legal advisor was Hugh Davidson Waipukurau.

Early meetings were held in Wellington for easier traveling. As members were from Northland to Southland, and all members numbering about 8 were on the Committee. By 1974 there had been 27 registered breeders.

The breed started up with females of any breed available, and semen was imported from Australia. First Bulls to be used were, King Ranch ‘Figurehead 1969, Bolinda Columbus 1970, followed by King Ranch Hector, Cumberland and Freddie and Pampoola K. 82 1971. Then in 1973 King Ranch Orion Otterman and Observer were used.

First imports were in 1972, Dillons bought in 1 Bull, and Ritchies 4 Females. Due to quarantine regulations these animals had to come in via Tasmania. A.J. Allen bought in 2 bulls from Goonoo Goonoo and Bradleys bought in 2 in calf females from Pimeroo and Bennaway. The next year Bradleys bought in 2 cows and calves from Goonoo Goonoo. This was the base of the breed here. Cattle could only be imported from Studs in New South Wales, Australia that had been cleared for export to New Zealand. Classifying started in 1976 by Robin Hart followed by Howard Douglas in 1977 & 78 then Ross Douglas. At this stage Classifying was done voluntarily by the Australian classifier. Members hosted the classifiers and their wives and transported them from one breeder to the next. Return airfares to Australia and any internal flights were paid for by members who required the classifier.

Members over the years have continued to purchase quality bulls and semen from N.S.W. Queensland and Victoria. Providing a wide supply of genetics across the bred in New Zealand.

Classification continues with the Santa Gertrudis (New Zealand) Breeders Association Inc. organizing a Field Director (Classifier) to travel from Australia each year.

There are members of the Santa Gertrudis Breeders (NZ) Association from Northland to Otago.

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© Santa Gertrudis Breeders New Zealand Association Inc.