toro bravo

Help Support CattleToday:



hi - i'm researching spanish and portuguese bullfighting and i was wondering if toro bravo is actually a breed. the ganaderos (ranchers) raise the bulls to keep their protective instincts, and they're all thoroughbred, with certified bloodlines back to the 1700s. can anyone point me to a resource on the actual bovine characteristics and breeding of toro bravo? i'm wondering how they vary from other breeds, also historically. thanks!
me again - i thought an image might be useful. this is a toro bravo. does it help?
yes, toro bravo means brave bull. but in spanish a "toro" must be minimum 4-5 years old. a three year old is called a novillo, a two year old is called an erale, and a one year old is a utrero. so toro isn't really the right word for this bull type.

the point that is interesting to me is how regular milk and beef cattle have been bred over the years for docility (among other things). but back in bovine history somewhere, bulls were actually known for their aggressive, powerful, and protective functions -- and wild bulls were extremely hard to kill!! so the story goes that "toro bravo" (for lack of a definitive breed designation), is closest to its wild forebears, WITHOUT breeding docility in, but instead honoring and revering the (shall we say) natural male aggressive function and keeping it alive in the "breed".

so i'd be curious to know what cattle people think and know about this. i appreciate the help! thanks
I can't really answer your question but I can interject my 2 cents. I think that bull looks like it is about to eat whoever is taking the picture for lunch. I wouldn't want him in my pasture. I think 'cattle people' breed for docility because it is too dangerous and way too much of a hassle to deal with aggressive, powerful, and protective functions of cattle. It is not worth the time and effort to care for, vaccinate, and doctor animals that would rather eat your shorts then eat a blade of grass.
I definitely think that aggressive nature has been bred out of breeding cattle.. for a couple of reasons. First of all because like mentioned previously, it's dangerous to have an animal like that in your pasture, and in your corrals when you're trying to work cattle. Second of all, with all the new research on "dark cutters", and the direct correlation to "exciteable or aggressive" cattle and carcasses that cut dark, most breeders are getting rid of these types of animals.

I'm sure when these types of bulls were used, they were in very large pastures with a lot of preditors and they were useful with that type of behavior. They probably only gathered cattle once a year, so penning them wasn't as important either.
interesting. yes, i saw the corriente breed, but i think dun's article on the spanish castas actually tells more. when i look at the corriente it has similarity, but its not quite 'toro bravo'.

re docility and the difficulty of keeping these bulls, i travelled in spain and we visited a couple of ranches. my spanish isnt so good, so i wasn't able to get all my questions answered, but we did go out in the pastures where these bulls are (in land rovers that had various puncture holes in the doors). and if you stay a certain distance from these bulls, they are fine. the entire art of toreo (spanish for bullfighting) is about manipulating what's called "jurisdiction", or the invisible space around a bull that he'll protect. the space is elastic -- when he first comes into a ring it's huge, and he'll charge at anything. but gradually, through work with the capes, his jurisdiction shrinks until the moment when a matador can kill him by hand. for the record, the most points go for a quick clean kill, a sword stroke through the aorta. anything too gruesome or grisly is abhorred by the judges and crowd, and if the kill isn't clean they send a guy in with a little dagger to sever the spinal cord just behind the horns, so the bull dies fast.

anyway, re pasturing and keeping -- what i gathered in the translations is that males are kept together, so they do socialize. i saw them butt each other a lot though, to test or assert their dominance and probably exercise their muscle. they are kept within their age group -- 4 year olds together in one pasture, 3 year olds together in a different pasture, etc. they don't bring them into a barn ever -- they basically live out there wild -- but consider that it's spain, mexico, etc, where winters aren't bad. but food, vitamins and medicines are taken out to the troughs. the mayoral (head of the ranch) goes out in the land rover regularly to look over and observe the bulls (like to notice if any look sick). if any *are* sick enough to need real care, i imagine they'd need to shoot it or otherwise kill it. a fighting bull is not allowed to be close to a man on foot ever, from the day he's born and branded, to the day he goes to the arena.

what i don't know is how they get the bulls into the trucks that transport them to the arenas -- but somehow they do it. it's a good question. but apparently these bulls are sold to the arenas for $5000 or more each, so i guess you'd have to calculate the value of feeding them but basically leaving them alone, then dealing with the headache of getting them into a truck once.

i love that photo by the way -- it really does show how magnificent these animals are. i do realize it's good for profit and production to have bred their natural aggressiveness out, but it's kinda sad too, when nature made them so powerful.

hi bull lady -- i looked into dark cutters, i didn't know what it was, but there's a lot of good info on the web! anyway quickly, depending on the size of the arena, when the bull's carcass is hauled out of the ring, it's either butchered right there, in a special room outside the back exit, or they're hoisted into a refridgerator truck that has to be on hand by regulations.

i'm not a meat expert, but the meat *is* somewhat darker -- although not as dark as the dark cutters articles seem to suggest. i think it may be because the bulls, for most of their life, actually live a very stress free existence. they are fed well, have huge pastures, can go where they want, are never "herded" anywhere, and the only "stress" they seem to face is the natural, healthy stress of butting heads with their brothers. they grow up together, so do fight a bit, but never draw blood or tear each other apart. at least this is what the mayoral said, and i saw some pasture fights. they are vigorous but not vicious. it's odd. i don't understand enough about bovines perhaps, but the socialization is apparently a big thing. if they had NOT been raised together from birth, perhaps they *would* want to tear each other apart?

anyway, from a production point of view, i'm sure the meat is more lean, less marbled, etc. but raw beef in the more developing world is darker anyway. and they do eat the meat from toro bravo, i've had it, it's fine. but traditionally it's given to an orphanage or hospital, some charity -- since it's true, it's not as juicy as what a fine restaurant would expect.

thanks for helping me learn!
That's very true.. if you have bulls together from the start, they generally don't fight much because the dominance has been determined from the start. I had a steer that I kept for years with my herd bull (actually his sire) and Taz (the steer) never confronted Spike (the herd bull).. in fact he was very shy of him, even when he outweighed him significantly.

After Spike was gone and we put other bulls in with the cows, Taz became more aggressive and wanted to challenge any "newcomers". Odd how that works. And especially odd since he's a STEER.

Latest posts