Article courtesy of Oklahoma State University
A very interesting, versatile breed, the Beefalo is a cross between the Bison or Buffalo, and any domestic cattle breed. There are a large number of advantages to raising Beefalo animals, all of which can make cattle-rearing a more lucrative endeavor than it has been in recent years.
The main purpose of crossing Buffalo with domestic cattle is to develop an animal that is east to handle and docile, like most domestic breeds, yet hardy and capable of eating almost anything like the wild Buffalo. Buffaloes are capable of eating large amounts of roughage and converting it to energy and high quality meat, a trait domestic cows rarely share. The Beefalo inherits the Buffalo’s digestive track, enabling it too to subsist on low quality feed with little or no grain. Beefalo also inherited the Buffalo’s small-calves, making calving much easier than on regular domestic cows. Wild animals are designed by nature to not require human assistance when calving. Although the Beefalo is a domestic animal, it retains the Buffalo’s ease of birthing. A third advantage to raising Beefalo is their hardiness. The coat on Beefalo is very dense, which protects the animals against both weather and injury. The Beefalo also inherited the Buffalo’s large open pores, which help to cool the body in hot weather. While Beefalo are generally 3/8 Buffalo, they can be sold without declaring the Buffalo blood because they are not exotic. They also rarely resemble Buffaloes in appearance. The Beefalo is a very docile animal, one of the characteristics of the domestic cattle that it has retained. Beefalos are very popular in teh beef market because the meat is low in fat, calories and cholesterol and high in protein and calcium.
The Beefalo is a large animal. Because they are produced by crossing Buffaloes with domestic or exotic cattle, the can vary greatly in appearance. One similarity most Beefalos share is their unique coat. The coat is very dense and made up of thick, fine hair. This coat is often considered “fur” instead of “hair,” and protects the animals from cold weather.
Many people toyed with the idea of crossing Buffaloes with domestic cattle from teh first time they saw the hard, healthy Buffalo in the wilds of America. Nobody was successful in the attempt until 1957, when Montana’s Jim Burnett managed to cross a domestic bull with a Buffalo cow. in 1966, Bud Basolo from California discovered one of the sterility problems between Buffalo and domestic cattle and overcame the problem. From that point on, the popularity of Beefalo has risen steadily. Today, there are three different registry groups for the Beefalo. These groups have combined into one large organization, known as the American Beefalo World Registry. Today Beefalo meat regularly wins various awards for taste and other values.
Beefalo basis is three-eights buffalo, five-eights beef cattle
Beefalo is a species cross between Bison (buffalo) and domestic cattle of any breed. The purpose of the species cross was to blend the outstanding qualities of the Bison with outstanding qualities of the bovine breeds of the world.
Many individuals have tried to cross the Bison and bovine but it was not until the 1960’s that a major breakthrough took place. The cross between the Bison and the domestic and exotic breeds resulted in the best of both species coming together to produce a superior animal.
The cross between Bison and beef breeds combined the superior hardiness, foraging ability, calving ease, and meat quality of Bison with the fertility, milking ability, and ease of handling from the bovine. The cross has also given increased meaning to the term of hybrid vigor. Beefalo animals can be more efficient, which can cut input costs and improve profits.
The basis of the Beefalo program is the fullblood, an animal which is exactly 3/8 Bison and 5/8 bovine. There is no stipulation of the breed used to make up the 5/8 bovine, but any of the beef breeds is generally used.
Web site editor’s note: Since the original publication of this article, American Beefalo World Registry has become the American Beefalo Association.