The Caracu is a Brazilian breed of beef cattle.[4] It is a Criollo breed, derived from European cattle brought to Brazil by the conquistadors; it has little or no zebuine influence.[5] It was originally a triple-purpose breed, used for draught work and transport, for meat and for milk; in the twenty-first century it is reared principally for beef, but there are also dairy lines. It has contributed to the development of a number of other breeds, among them the Caldeano.[6] It is closely similar to the Mocho Nacional, a polled breed, and it is probable that the two will be merged.

Boi caracu no pasto (cropped).JPG
Conservation status
Country of originBrazil
  • Male:
    950–1200 kg[3]: 149 }
  • Female:
    550–650 kg[3]: 149 }
  • Male:
    average 143 cm[2]}
  • Female:
    average 135 cm[2]}
Coatuniform red in any shade
Horn statushorned, sometimes polled
  • Cattle
  • Bos (primigenius) taurus


The Caracu derives from cattle brought from Portugal to Brazil by the conquistadors from 1532 onwards.[3]: 149  It is not known of what type these were, but they may have been similar to the modern Alentejana, Arouquesa, Barrosã, Minhota or Mirandesa breeds.[5]: 170 

The Caracu originated in the southern part of Minas Gerais, and later spread into the state of São Paulo.[3]: 149  An early description is that of Nicolas Athanassof in 1911.[5]: 170  A breed association, the Associação Brasileira de Criadores de Caracu, was formed in 1916.[7]

In 1913 an influential book by Eduardo Cotrim on cattle-rearing in Brazil, with many colour illustrations, was published in Brussels.[8][9] It was highly critical of both Brazilian methods and Brazilian cattle, and may have initiated a decline in numbers of the Caracu, which fell steeply during much of the twentieth century as a result of cross-breeding with zebuine or other taurine breeds, coming close to the point of extinction.[3]: 149 [8]

In 1976 the Istituto de Zootecnia of Sertãozinho, in the state of São Paulo, added the Caracu to its research programme; in 1980 the breed association, which had been dormant since 1960, became active again.[8] Numbers increased rapidly: from 12,000 in 1979, the population rose to about 31,000 head in 1994, and to over 85,000 in 2010.[3]: 149 [2] In 2020 the total number reported was just over 162,000.[2]


  1. ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Breed data sheet: Caracu / Brazil (Cattle). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed April 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
  4. ^ A.C.A.P.M. Geraldo, Alfredo Manuel Franco Pereira, J.C.M. Nogueira Filho, E.A.L. Titto (2011). Behavioral aspects of Caracu and Red Angus cattle breeds in a pasture with shade and water immersion. 62nd Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production, Stavanger, Norway.
  5. ^ a b c Aristeu Mendes Peixoto, Francisco Ferraz de Toledo. Enciclopédia agrícola brasileira: C-D, Volumen 2 (in Portuguese). EdUSP, 1998. ISBN 8531404606.
  6. ^ Marleen Felius (1995). Cattle Breeds: An Encyclopedia. Doetinchem, Netherlands: Misset. ISBN 9789054390176.
  7. ^ Sobre a ABC Caracu (in Portuguese). Palmas, Paraná: Associação Brasileira de Criadores de Caracu. Accessed April 2022.
  8. ^ a b c Caracu (in Portuguese). Lavras, Minas Gerais: Departamento de Zootecnia, Faculdade de Zootecnia e Medicina Veterinaria, Universidade Federal de Lavras. Extract from: R. dos Santos (1999). Os Cruzamentos na Pecuária Tropical (in Portuguese, English and Spanish). Uberaba: Agropecuária Tropical.
  9. ^ Eduardo Cotrim (1913). A Fazenda Moderna: guia do criador de gado bovino no Brasil (in Portuguese). Brussels: V. Verteneuil & L. Desmet.