Fighting Cattle

What is the History of Fighting Cattle?

A subspecies of auroch, Bos taurus Ibericus, is thought to be the ancestor of the all the dark colored breeds found on the Iberian peninsula including the Fighting bull or Fighting cattle. The breed is selected primarily for aggressiveness, strength and vigor. They are bred primarily in Spain, Portugal and those Latin American countries were bull fighting is organized.

The Spanish Fighting Bull is an Iberian heterogeneous cattle population which is mainly bred free-range. Exact origins of these animals are disputed.

Some commentators trace it’s origin to wild bulls from the Iberian Peninsula. And they also traced the use of fighting bull for arena games in the Roman Empire.

Genetic studies of the Spanish Fighting Bull have indicated that the breeding stock have an unusually old genetic pool. The aggression of the bull has been maintained by selective breeding and has come to be popular among the people of Spain and Portugal and the parts of Latin America where it took root during colonial rule, as well as parts of Southern France, where bullfighting spread during the 19th century. Spanish Fighting Bull is considered a symbol of Spain.

It is also called by some other names such as Toro Bravo, toro de lidia, toro lidiado, ganado bravo, Touro de Lide.   

In May 2010, Spanish scientists cloned the breed for the first time. The calf, named Got, meaning "glass" in Valencian, was cloned from a bull named Vasito and implanted into a Friesian host mother 

The fighting bulls are very beautiful and are of aggressive behavior naturally. They are selected primarily for a certain combination of aggression, energy, strength and stamina.

What is the Growing Process of Fighting Cattle?

Fighting cattle are bred on wide-ranging ranches in Spain's dehesas, which are often havens for Spanish wildlife as the farming techniques used are extensive. Both male and female calves spend their first year of life with their mothers; then they are weaned, branded, and kept in single-sex groups. When the cattle reach maturity after two years or so, they are sent to the tienta, or testing.

For the males, this establishes if they are suitable for breeding, the bullfight, or slaughter for meat. The testing for the bullfight is only of their aggression towards the horse, as regulations forbid their charging a man on the ground before they enter the bullfighting ring. They learn how to use their horns in tests of strength and dominance with other bulls. Due to their special aggression, these combats can lead to severe injuries and even death, a great cost to the breeder.

The females are more thoroughly tested, including by a bullfighter with his capes; hence a bull's "courage" is often said to descend from his mother.

If fit for bullfighting, bulls will return to their peers. Cows passing the tienta are kept for breeding and will be slaughtered only when they can bear no more calves.

At three years old males are no longer considered calves; they are known as novillos and are ready for bullfighting, although novilladas are for training bullfighters, or novilleros. The best bulls are kept for corridas de toros with full matadors. Under Spanish law they must be at least four years old and reach the weight of 460 kg to fight in a first-rank bullring, 435 kg for a second-rank one, and 410 kg for third-rank rings. They must also have fully functional vision and even horns (which have not been tampered with) and be in generally good condition.

A very few times each year a bull will be indultado, or "pardoned," meaning his life is spared due to outstanding behavior in the bullring, leading the audience to petition the president of the ring with white handkerchiefs. The bullfighter joins the petition, as it is a great honor to have a bull one has fought pardoned. The president pardons the bull showing an orange handkerchief. The bull, previously cured of his injuries (which are mostly superficial), is then returned to the ranch he was bred at, where he will live out his days in the fields. In most cases, he will become a "seed bull", mated once with some 30 cows. Four years later, his offspring will be tested in the ring. If they fight well, he may be bred again. • An "indultado" bull's lifespan can be 20 to 25 years.

What are the Characteristics of Fighting Cattle?

● The fighting bulls are usually medium sized animals with normal coloration, but many are also colored black or dark brown.

● The Fighting cattle are recognized for their elegant stature. The toro has a long curved neck and holds its head very high. The long slender legs of the breed allow it to generate remarkable speed and the breed is noted for its agility.

● Milk yield of the fighting cattle is poor.

● They are easily characterized by their aggressive behavior, especially when solitary or unable to escape.

● These animals usually reach maturity slower than other meat cattle breeds. Because they were not selected for being heavy (instead having a well-muscled look).

● The fighting bulls have a distinctive profile for a complex of muscles over the shoulder and neck and the strength with their horns. Their horns are usually longer than most other cattle breeds. And the horns are also present in both males and females.

● As the name suggests, the Spanish Fighting Bull is raised primarily for fighting purpose in some countries where bull fighting is organized.

● The animals are very good for meat production. Fighting bull’s beef is also considered as the most ecological meat in the world.

● Among fighting cattle there are several "encastes" or sub types of the breed. Of the so-called "foundational breeds", only the bloodlines of Vistahermosa, Vázquez, Gallardo and Cabrera remain today. In the cases of the latter two only the ranches of Miura and Pablo Romero are deeply influenced by them. The so-called "modern foundational bloodlines" are Saltillo, Murube, Parladé and Santa Coloma, all of which are mainly composed of Vistahermosa blood.

● Cattle have dichromatic vision, rendering them red-green colorblind and falsifying the idea that the color red makes them angry; they just respond to the movements of the muleta. The red coloring is traditional and is believed to both dissimulate blood stains and provide a suitable light-dark contrast against the arena floor.

What is the Weight of Fighting Cattle? 

Mature bulls weigh from 500 to 700 kg. 

Mature cows weigh less than the bulls.


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