THE BASICS OF BEEFALO RAISING
George O'Connor answers questions about this unusual crossbreed growing in popularity.
Folks from all over are asking about . . .
About a year and a half ago this magazine published an
article, by Elsie M. Banks, about an unusual breed of
livestock: the American Beefalo . . . a 3/8 bison and 5/8
domestic cattle hybrid (see page 82 in MOTHER NO. 57).
Well, Ms. Banks's informative story created such a stir
that the folks at the American Beefalo Association have
been swamped with letters . . . from "practically every
state in the union, every province in Canada, various parts
of Mexico, and as far away as Spain and England".
So, in an attempt to get the word out to as many
"alternative cow" enthusiasts as possible, George E.
O'Connor — Executive Director of the ABA — has
provided the following answers to the most frequently asked
questions about the magnificent hybrid cattle.
Question: What are the main advantages of
raising Beefalo instead of "standard" livestock?
O'Connor: A Beefalo's 3/8-bison,
5/8-bovine parentage provides the hybrid with the most
favorable genetic traits of both the American bison and
domestic cattle. According to ranchers who raise them, the
prolific crossbreeds are hardier, are more economical (and
less care-intensive) to nurture, and produce meat
that's superior to that of the common cow.
To be more specific, bison-crossed livestock inherit the
foraging ability of their free-roaming ancestors, and thus
can feed entirely on available hay and grasses . .
. efficiently converting pasturage to weight gain
without requiring extensive grain supplements. In
fact, tests by the ABA have shown that hybrids raised
solely on roughage rations actually outgain both
Beefalo and domestic cattle that have been fed on
grain. This distinctive Beefalo trait can add up to a
saving of about 10¢ for every pound the beasts put on!
In addition, the rugged critters are able to withstand
extreme cold (thanks to their thick "buffalo robes") ...
yet — like their native American forebears —
Beefalo perspire through the skin and thus maintain a
constant "cool", even during the sultry summer months.
The hybrids are also valued for their high degree of
fertility (they mature younger and breed earlier
than do standard cattle) and their lack of
reproductive problems. Beefalo calves are born easily
— and usually without any assistance —
requiring no special "infant" care from the homesteader.
The rugged young "percentage-bison" are smaller (tipping
the scales at 40 to 60 pounds at birth) than newborn
domestics, a characteristic that lessens the birthing
hazard to the Beefalo mamas . . . and the foraging "babies"
rapidly gain weight, generally reaching 800 to 900 pounds
in 10 to 12 months! Furthermore, the animals live longer
than do most standard cattle . . . and Beefalo bossies have
a longer productive life.
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