Facts of Brazil : Larissa Becker

Brazil is a country located in South America covering approximately 3.2 million square miles. The percentage of arable land is 29% and the percentage of agricultural land is 34%. A large percentage of the land is under permanent meadows and pastures with a value of 69%. Brazil used to be well known for its tropical forests but over time deforestation has become a common practice (4).

Brazil was discovered in 1500 when Pedro’s fleet arrived in Porto Seguro on the way to India. The commander of the fleet, Pedro, was a Portuguese ambassador. Brazil declared independence on September 7, 1822 and declared Rio de Janeiro as the capital city. Rio de Janeiro was the capital from 1763 until 1960 when the capital became Brasilia. The change in capital cities was due to the presidential change. Juscelino Kubitschek wanted a new and modern capital. He wanted to start fresh with a city that wasn’t well known and introduce modern ideas (1).

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The population in Brazil is 209.3 million people with the rural population of 28.6 million. The majority of Brazil’s population lives in urban cities with a population of 178.2 million people. The population density in Brazil is 62 people per square mile (5). The common language spoken by the people is Portuguese followed by German. The percentage of the population that speaks Portuguese is 97.9% and 1.9% speak German (12). Over half of the population of Brazil practice Roman Catholicism, 64.6% (16).

Brazil has a Democratic Federative Republic with a presidential system style of government that is, in some ways, similar to the United States government system. The president is elected by the general public and serves a four year term. The president is considered the Head of State and Head of Government. It appoints members to the cabinet and also selects judges to the supreme court. The president has the ability to propose new laws to the National Congress and represents the country in international affairs. Throughout time, Brazil has had 37 presidents. The first president was Deodoro de Fonseca who was elected in February 1891. The current president is Michel Temer and he was elected in 2016 (9). The executive branch is headed by the president and administered by the Cabinet of Ministers. Members of the executive branch can be removed by the president when felt necessary. The legislative branch is administered by the National Congress and has the decision-making ability for writing and approving new laws. Case laws are tried before a jury within the judicial branch of government. Courts are split into jurisdictions consisting of labor, electoral, and military justice (11).

Due to the unique location of Brazil, the country displays several different climates depending on the region. In northern and central Brazil, the clime is equatorial and humid. Along the coast of the middle-north the climate is tropical and alternately humid and dry. The climate in the northeast is semi-arid and is tropical that tends to be dry. Another climate displayed is oceanic along the eastern and northeastern coastlines. The southern region of the country experience a sub-tropical climate (18).

The gross domestic product of Brazil is 2.056 trillion in US dollars and 3.241 trillion in terms of purchasing power parity in international dollars. The gross domestic product per capita in Brazil in US dollars is 9,821 and 15,484 in international dollars in purchasing power parity. The GDP growth is 1% in Brazil and 2.3% in the United States. The GNI per capita value of 8,600 US dollars classifies the country as a upper to middle income economy according to the World Bank (19). The human development index of Brazil is 0.754 and ranking 79th in the world. The United States has a human development index of 0.920 and ranks 11th in the world. The GINI value in Brazil is 53.3 measuring the income distribution (Table 1).

In terms of agriculture production animals, Brazil has around 1.4 billion chickens, 215 million cattle and 41 million pigs in the year 2017. Of the 215 million cattle, approximately 4 million of them are harvested for their meat products. 43 million of the pigs are slaughtered for their meat along. Brazil also has a significant number of turkeys, sheep, goats, buffalo, and horses (21). With those notable animal production numbers, Brazil exported, in 2016, approximately 15.3 million chickens, 292,515 head of cattle, and 10,376 head of pigs. Brazil also exports 39 buffalo and 1,128 horses. Despite their production and export values, Brazil imported 3,085 head of cattle, 81,000 chickens, and 322 pigs in the year 2016. Along with approximately 10 sheep and 204 sheep (20).

The two major milking species in Brazil includes cattle and goats with 17 million head and 4.6 million head, respectively. The whole, fresh milk yield from the cattle in 2017 was approximately 20,000 hectograms per animal. In the United States, the whole, fresh milk yield per animal is 105,000 hectograms per animal, which is significantly more. The whole, fresh milk yield from goats in Brazil valued 550 hectograms per animal compared to approximately 1,000 hectograms per animal in the United States, which is almost double the value. Of the cow milk produced, some is processed into butter and cheese. In 2014, approximately 104,000 tonnes of butter was produced and 423,000 tonnes of cheese. The gross production value in US dollars from agricultural production in Brazil was 12.9 trillion in 2016 (22).

An important cattle breed to Brazil is the zebu breed, a Bos Taurus indicus. Zebu is known for their meat in milk production and contribute approximately 80% of the 215 million cattle in brazil as full purebreds or crossbred cattle. Zebu have adapted well to the high temperatures and low quality forages in Brazil making them a popular breed in Brazil. They were first present in Brazil in 1875 and were officially registered as a breed in 1938. The breed has been introduced to a process of genetic improvement being selected for milk and meat. A disadvantage from this process is the fact that some inbreeding has occurred and as result the genetic diversity is decreasing. Research is being done to investigate the amount of inbreeding and the reduction of genetic variety by analyzing pedigrees (15).

Another important cattle breed in Brazil is the taurine breed, a Bos Taurus tarurus. This breed is often crossed with the zebu breed to make the most successful cattle in the climate of Brazil. When the traits of the zebu are crossed with the taurine, they had created a desirable cattle with high adaptability, low maintenance and high producing cattle. The taurine cattle breed has greater genetic variety compared to the zebu cattle breed because of the history of the breeds. The zebu cattle breed was brought over from India where a majority of the breeds were zebu. The taurine cattle breed came from Spain and Portugal that was brought into the American continent and later introduced into South America (13).

Ticks and tick-borne diseases play a big role in cattle production in Brazil. Diseases from ticks result in significant economic losses from a reduction in production of animal protein and exports. Tick control can be accomplished but it is difficult and can be costly. One approach is with the application of chemicals but progress of resistance can cause problems. Another approach is to vaccinate but animals can still develop resistance. Research is being done to try to reduce tick diseases in cattle (3).

In Brazil, they utilize the low quality tropical forages that are available to them. These forages are often low in crude protein and high amount of lignin. Because of these components the cattle face decreased feed intake and digestibility leading to deficiencies in energy, protein and minerals. Supplementation is an important part of cattle nutrition in Brazil. Emphasis is put on the supplementation of nitrogen in order to increase feed intake by increases the digestibility of the forages (6).

Several local pig breeds in Brazil are facing a reduction in number and herd size because of the use of modern, imported breeds. Some local breeds in Brazil are canastrao, caruncho, moura, Monteiro, nilo, piau, pireapetinga and tatu. Through technology the caruncho, piau and mouro have been improved genetically for their production of fat. Some of the most common breeds raised in Brazil currently are landrace, large white, and duroc, which is similar to the United States. The current breeds were developed in North America and Europe and are well known for their production of meat (17).

Brazil faces many of the same swine diseases as we face in the United States. They experience mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, circovirus, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. Brazil classifies all of these diseases together and calls them porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC). PRDC is a multifactorial disease that is caused by the combination of non-infectious components, and viral and bacterial pathogens. The pathogens that contribute to PRDC are not well known and require more research to be done. These are important diseases that impact swine production and can lead to major economic losses for Brazil because the number of swine present in the country (14).

In Brazil, swine diets consist of 80% corn and soybean meal much like swine diets in the United States. 75% of the total cost of pork production comes from the cost of feeding the animals. Brazil is determined to reduce the environmental impacts pork production has by looking towards the use of co-products in pig diets. Research is being done to try implement co-products into swine diets to reduce the environmental impact on land usage and greenhouse gas emissions (2).

A majority of the chickens in Brazil are raised in the southern region. Some layer breeds in brazil include Lohmann, Hy-Line Dekalb and Isa Babcock which are white. Some of the brown egg layers include the breeds Isa Brown, Lohmann Brown and Hisex Brown. Poultry meat consumption had increased significantly in Brazil in the last ten years. A lot of the chickens in Brazil are used to produce meat with a smaller portion used for egg production. Some breeds of meat producing chickens include Ross, Cobb, Hubbard, and Hybro. In Brazil, most male chickens are slaughtered at six months old and females are kept for egg and meat production (8).

One of the chicken viruses that is prominent in Brazil is called chicken astrovirus (CAstV) which is a virus that is related to enteric diseases. In Brazil, CAstV was linked to the abnormal condition in chickens that they called “white chicks.” This disease caused production problems such as an increased mortality rate, problems with incubation, and chicks with white feathers. CAstV is transmitted vertically and is impacts the digestive tract, gizzard, and the intestines. It is thought that the virus originates in the yolk sac because it can be observed in the yolk sac remnant (10).

Chicken diets in Brazil are very similar to in the United States. Both diets are cereal grain based with a majority of the energy coming from corn. In some places of the world, wheat is used as the main source of energy because of cost and resources. Quality of the cereal grains is strongly impacted by the season and storage systems. Because of the climate in Brazil, they are able to get two crops per year which is an advantage to the country (7).

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