Having been – for more then a thousand year a sacred animal in Hinduism, the Zebu has it’s own cult in a lively capitalist occidental country, being admired, respected and studied on as one of the most significant commodities of the Brazilian international commerce.
Brought to Brazil in lately 19th century, it has adapted to the geography in such a way that in 2012 Brazil overtook the US and became the largest exporter of beef in the world.
The Brazilian meat market had turned US$5,5 billion on 2016 of income over 1,4 million tones of meat exported, numbers that keep growing and turns economy during these last years of crises.The country occupies 25% of the international meat market. We can say that from each five steaks eaten in the world, one is from Brazilian origin. The rich farmers are in constant negotiations with Brazilian Government with the intention to duplicate this number until 2025. This could mean also to duplicate the numbers of animals from 200 millions to 400 millions until that date.
These figures are only possible due to the genetic development of the breed in a use of extremely controlled artificial insemination to get to the perfect animal. The origin of the seeds as well as that of the eggs is studied upstream. An animal of this type will nevertheless be a supplier of genetic material and a father of 600 mil calves destined for slaughterhouses. Some are sold for $ 1 million and are cloned to maintain its genetical value alive. By genetical development and crossings, the rich Brazilian farmers are already preparing the next animals to be resistants to world climate change.The project makes a panorama showing the very starting point of the Brazilian international meat business.
Holy Cow is a about the Power and mystery behind the Brazilian meat industry. And aims to understand the characteristics of the Brazilian rural capitalists and the contemporary identity of those who decide the meat we will eat in the world.
Female calf enters an auction during ExpoZebu Cattle Fair. For its genetic quality, the animal was sold for almost US$ 1 million dollars. Uberaba, Brazil, 2013
The veterinary assistant washes the towel used in a cesarean surgery of a cloned calf. Born from surrogate cows, these animals are too expensive to risk a natural birth. Ceaserian are done to avoid losts as many surrogate cows do not produce the hormones necessary to expel the animal naturally. Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2017
Mr. Pimenta da Veiga, Pimenta da Veiga, ex former Minister of Communications during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso, visiting the headquarters of the Brazilian Association of Zebu Cattle Breeders in a lobby to Aécio Neves (right wing party) campaign, on the eve of the presidential elections. Uberaba, Brazil, 2014
A cowboy sat in a fence, arranging his hat. Pontes e Lacerda, Mato Grosso, Brazil, 2015.
Two cloned calves with only few months of life, laying down in the corral of Geneal Laboratory farm . Geneal is one of the most important laboratories of bovines clonning in Brazil, reaching to give birth to around 70 clonned animals per year. Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2017
A calf is presented to sale at the private auction "Joias da Raça" (The Jews of the Race) organised by the farm Nova Trindade during the ExpoZebu Cattle Fair. The animal was sold for 1 million dollars. Uberaba, Brazil, 2013
Talk and negotiation between farmers in an auction during Expozebu. Uberaba, Brazil, 2013.
A boy with a hat in middle of a cattle breeders meeting during the most known cattle exhibition in Brazil, the Expozebu. Uberaba, Brazil, 2014
A bull jumps the fence trying to escape the truck entrance that led to the slaughterer. Pontes e Lacerda, Mato Grosso, Brazil, 2015
Rodrigo Rodrigues da Cunha, 27 years, the young financial manager of his familiar agro-business company, visit a 38 thousand acres farm in Mato Grosso newly acquired by the group. The Rodrigues da Cunha Agropecuaria owns 11 farms in Brazil, spreads between Mato Grosso, Para, Tocantins, among others. Mato Grosso, Brazil, 2015
Cattle feedlot. The confinement has been growing in the country as an alternative to the spread land traditional way of raising animals. It is estimated that this growth will be continued during the next few years, with the intention to double the animals raised in the country. Brazil has 210 million cows raised for meat. The agribusiness industry aims to double this number until 2023. Pontes e Lacerda, Mato Grosso, Brazil, 2015
A dining room at Mr. Mario Franco, one of the most traditional cattle breeders of the country. Mr Mario Franco, whose name noums the airport of the city, was one of the first farmers to bring cattle from India. A very social and politic man whose farm was frequented by international and national personalities, as Mr Bush (father), Margaret Tatcher and many Brazilian politics. One very known was the right ring candidate who lost elections in 2014, Aécio Neves. Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2014
Feed in storage. Soybean meal, corn DDG, cottonseed, ground sorghum, salt and moist corn constitute the cattle feed on this farm. To 30,000 animals, 205 tonnes of feed are served daily. Pontes e Lacerda, Brazil, 2015
A cowboy pulls a bull in the judgment square during the Expozebu Fair. For the judgement many points and characteristics of the animal are checked for it to be able to receive the prize. Docility, size, low back structure, legs harmony among other points are in the list for the judgment to be done. Uberaba, Brazil, 2013
Auction crier. Expozebu, Uberaba, Brazil, 2013.
A laboratory collector veterinary collects semen at ABS PecPlan, a leading international laboratory of bovine genetics. The genetics material are a important part of the meat industry, being itself an important commerce and meaningful source of income. Uberaba, Brazil, 2015
Aerial view of the Cuiaba river that, with its almost 1000 km of extension crosses the capital of Mato Grosso State (of the same name) and connects the region with the south center of the country. After the official statistics of Brazilian Government, Mato Grosso has 40% of its land occupied by extensive beef cattle and is the largest region in soy production of the country. Over Cuiaba river, Mato Grosso, Brazil, 2017
Max Queiroz and Tulio, commercial auctioneers, selling at the virtual auction Estancia Bahia, where animals are sold live on television to buyers from all over Brazil. Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, Brazil 2017
Jabriel, the most prized bull of the Nelore breed, belonging to the Naviraí farm and currently hosted at the Alta Genetics laboratory in Uberaba. The bull was valued at almost US $ 800 thousand in 2016 and is today the most important bull in semen sale of the country. Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2017
Antonio Ronaldo Rodrigues da Cunha , 80, in his dinning room. Three generation running the cattle business in the country, the Rodrigues da Cunha family is one of the most traditional Brazilian livestock farm workers in the country, and one of the first to bring cattle from India at the beginning of the 20th century. In 2014 the Rodrigues da Cunha conducts historical auction in the country selling almost 1000 field cows and earning almost one and a half million dollars. The family already bears a trademark of animals that are genetically selected for production. Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil
In a conservative and patriotic ambiance, cowboys sing the national hymn in a private luxury cattle's auction opening during ExpoZebu Cattle Fair. Uberaba, Brazil, 2013
Ovules that have just arrived in the Bioembryo laboratory in Cuiaba. Each drop belongs to one cow and the tiny white dots in the drops are the ovules, visible to the naked eye. Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, Brazil, 2017
The newborn clone rests and bathes under infrared light on the manger.Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil
One of the ten room full of freezed meat boxes for exportation. Marfrig in one of the biggest slaughterhouses of Brazil and the 3rd one of the world. Bataguaçu, Brazil, 2015