George O'Connor answers questions about this unusual crossbreed growing in popularity.

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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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