The breed was developed in Texas at the famous King Ranch by crossing Zebu bulls with Shorthorn cows from 1910 to 1918. This was done with tens of thousand of head of cattle on more than half a million hectares. These animals were developed on deep, rugged country in a hot, dry climate. The Santa Gertrudis is a composite breed of 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Shorthorn descent. In 1920 a bull named Monkey was born to the King Ranch from a cow with exceptional milk qualities. Highly fertile, Monkey became the pioneer sire of the Santa Gertrudis breed when over 150 of his male offspring were introduced to the herds.
The Santa Gertrudis has a dark, cherry red colour. They have dark-coloured, well hooded eyes that prevent cancer and infection in this region. Santa Gertrudis cattle have a high resistance to bloat under a variety of conditions and are known for their adaptability.
Santa Gertrudis bulls are known as some of the industry's most efficient beef producers. They have excellent foraging abilities and good gain-ability under intensive feedin conditions. The Santa Gertrudis has the highest Phase C Performance Testing record with a Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) of 3,84 in South Africa. This makes the Santa Gertrudis effective on both in the veld and in the feed-lot. They continue to gain efficiently with good muscling without excess fat deposits.
The mature cow has excellent milking potential with few calving problems and is known to produce a calf up to 14 years of age. Good mothering instinct is evident in the two female animals that stay behind with a group of calves while other cows graze. Santa Gertrudis cows produce strong, healthy and more importantly heavy calves.
Over 700 000 Santa Gertrudis animals are registered in over 20 countries world-wide. The modern Santa is a medium framed animal with exceptional muscling. It is a hardy breed and is found in South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia on the African continent.