A few years ago, we did a land clearing job for a customer. Because the customer could not afford the cash to pay for the job, the property owner offered us two zebu cows.

He said the male was very friendly and the female is pregnant and due in the fall. When I laid my eyes on them them I couldn’t turn the offer down. Four days later we brought home Bonnie and Clyde!

We had rabbits, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks and horses, but never cows. I had never had any type of cattle before so as any homesteader would do, I started my research on Zebu cows. They are quite an interesting creature, and they have an interesting history.

This post is a result of days of research on these fantastic cows and what we have learned by having them here on our homestead.

Just so you know: This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission, but it does not affect the price you pay! For more information, please see my Affiliate Disclosure.

Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde

What are Zebu Cows?

Originally, Zebu cows came from Southeast Asia. They actually evolved from a mix of three Indian breeds of cattle, the Guzerat, Nelore, and the Gir. At that time, they actually did not have the humps that they currently sport.

Somewhere near the 17th and 18th centuries, these cattle were taken to Brazil. There they were bred with Brazilian cattle.

Zebu cows are now considered the oldest domesticated cattle breed. The name Zebu today, is not only the name used for a specific breed, but also a general name for Brahman, Gir, Guzera, and Nelore. Other names may include indicine cattle or humped cattle.

Because these cattle are social creatures, they live in groups. The need a secure enclosure and to have access to lots of grass and/or hay.


Zebu cows are pretty easy to identify. They usually have the following traits:

  • red or gray in their coloring
  • both male and female have horns
  • have quite large, drooping ears
  • very loose skin called a dewlap
  • a large hump about at the shoulder

Zebus are well-adapted to hot dry climates. They are very resistant to drought and can tolerate much higher amounts of heat and sunlight than other breeds of cattle. This is because Zebus have more sweat glands than most cattle which allows the heat to dissipate easier. Because their skin is oily it helps repel pests like flies.

Female Zebus weigh in the neighborhood of 1000 to 1400 pounds, while bulls tip the scale at 1600 to 2000 pounds. Mature miniature Zebu cows weigh only 300 to 500 pounds; bulls, 400 to 600 pounds. A mini Zebu should not exceed 42 inches tall at three years of age.

Zebu in Florida

Uses for Zebu cows

Zebu cows are mostly used for milk, meat, and as draft animals. The meat is preferred in sub-tropical countries due to its ability to thrive in hot conditions.

Uncommon uses include their hides, and manure for compost and fuel. Because their horns are so strong, they make excellent knife handles.

Miniature Zebus make excellent pets, especially for children. Their docile temperament allows them to be much more friendly than other cow breeds when treated well.


Zebu cows reach a mature age to reproduce at around 44 months, or just shy of four years old. The female carries her calf for around 285 days, depending on the age of the mother.

Male calves are usually carried longer during pregnancy than the females. Most Zebus give birth to a single calf, though twins are also common. The calves nurse from their mother for about six months.

Once they are a year old, most calves are fully independent. Zebu cows produce one-half gallon (2 liters) of milk per day.

Diet and Exercise

Like all cattle, Zebu cows are herbivores. They are most definitely grazers. A Zebu diet mainly consists of grass. Other than that, Zebus can consume seeds, leaves, and flowers.

Alfalfa is a favorite. Because Zebus are ruminants with multi-chambered stomachs they are able to regurgitate their food to chew it again. After grazing, the Zebu picks a quiet spot to lie in the shade and chew its cud.

Brazilian Zebu eating
Brazilian Zebu

Interesting Facts About Zebu Cows

Here are some interesting facts about Zebus you probably didn’t know:

  • In India, because Zebus are sacred, they are used only as draft animals, and for producing milk.
  • Zebus are featured on the official stamp of Madagascar.
  • In some countries, such as Madagascar, Zebus are a sacrificial animal and they are killed and eaten on occasions such as marriages, funerals and on New Year’s Eve.
  • Herds contain one male and many females, all of which have their own spot in the pecking order.

So, are you ready to go get your own Zebu Cows yet? These two have been a lot of fun on the homestead!

They are friendly, easy going and love being with the horses too! Make sure to watch our 15 Acre YouTube channel so you can see how the male did when he first came to us. If you want to learn more about Zebu does you can check out The Cattle Site for more information.

Do you have Zebu cows? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!


  1. What can I put on him for fly control? We have cattle but it seems that the stuff we use for the cows would be to potent for our miniature Zebu . Thank you

    1. Author

      Our local feed store sells a spray for flies. Tell them you want something that is not too strong or even organic. the brand we use is UltraCruz Equine Natural Fly and Tick Spray. You may be able to find it on Amazon.

  2. Hello,
    What do you feel the temperature guide lines are for Zebu ?

    1. Author

      All seeing that they were originally from hot tropic type climate I would say they withstand extreme high temperatures. However, I am not sure how low their cold tolerance is. We are in Florida, so the lowest we have seen is about 25 degrees, but that low temp does not last long. I don’t think I would recommend them in the high northern climates.

    2. I have yet to keep cattle, but I’ve spoken with a few people who raise Zebu near me, which is White County, Tennessee, Zone 7a.

      I have no idea how much colder they can get, but they do fine in our area, and can be finished on grain or grass – but I’ve been told they strongly prefer grass to grain.

      I’ll likely start with Irish Dexter, which are easier to find in my area, and give much more milk on the same feed. I’m planning to stick with strictly grass fed.

  3. Do you know any place to get Zebu near the Pensacola, FL area?

    Thank you,

  4. We have a small herd (6) of Zebu cattle, who reside on our (fence) enclosed field in Southwest Florida. Unfortunately, one of our cows was sold, and we would to replace her. The people we bought the original herd from are no longer in business, and we are wondering where to go to purchase additional cow(s) for our herd? Thank you.

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