Often the question arises how much Buffalo should my Beefalo have? Beefalo should have anywhere from 17 to 37.5 percent Bison. (The true name of Buffalo is Bison but the two are used interchangeably.) For some reason some think they must have exactly 3/8th or 37.5 percent Bison content to be true Beefalo. Many think the "Fullblood" (37.5% bison content) Beefalo are superior. Experience shows us though that this is not the case. There are many Beefalo that have lower percentages of bison blood that are outstanding individuals. When you start infusing Bison into domestic cattle, you can get a wide variety of traits. In the case of Beefalo it's not just the amount of bison, but the overall quality of the animal. Look at the examples below. Can you tell by looking at these cows their exact percentage of bison? Highly unliikely. Cow #1 is a 17.45 percent bison cow. #2 is a 25 percent bison cow. and #3 is a Fullblood 37.5 percent cow. It's time to start judging Beefalo on the quality of the animal. Not how much Bison they have.
Several years ago, I was explaining the difference between the American Buffalo and Beefalo to a gentleman, when he said, "Why did they go to all that bother crossbreeding bison and cattle to create Beefalo? Why don't you just raise Buffalo?" Good Question.
The key issue with Buffalo is management. They need heavy duty fencing, and stout pens or corrals to handle them. The old saying is you can herd a Buffalo any place they want to go. And they are great fence jumpers. Many Buffaloes, especially as they grow older have nasty temperaments and have been known to attack men both on foot or horseback. There are a few instances of persons being killed by Buffalo.
Now there are indeed many who raise Buffalo successfully. These people are fully prepared and know to handle "Buffs." The average cattleman however wants a more manageable animal. And this is where Beefalo come in. They handle like cattle and no special handling facilities are needed and the end result is Beefalo produces delicious meat. Want to know more about Beefalo? Contact one of our members. You'll find
our listings on our "What Can We Do For You?" Page.
We're hearing a lot more new words entering the cattle business. Probably the latest is "Low input" genetics; a phrase that's becoming quite popular. "Low Input" meaning cattle that can take care of themselves.The other word you're hearing thrown around a lot is "Sustainable". Cattle must be "Sustainable" meaning to continuously perpetuate themselves.
Somewhere along the line, cattle raising became complicated. Calf pulling became common. "Mothering up" a calf to its first time mother, using a lot of medication to keep cattle healthy, and using high protein feeds to keep cattle in flesh. A lot of labor and time went into taking care of a herd of cattle. Nothing happened to change this, until such practices resulted in no profit. It always comes down to profit. Now the shift is on to raise cattle as cheaply as possible. Adapt cattle to your land and resources, that will thrive on what they have.
I'll never forget being at a Cattle Meeting a few years back and the conversation was about the preparations made for Spring Calving: calf pullers in good shape, foot ropes, Disinfectants, spare bottles of colostrum, scour medicine, syringes and this old time Beefalo Breeder cocks back his cowboy hat and says:
"Are you sure you boys are raising Cattle and not running a maternity ward? I just let my Beefalo calve by themselves." The place went dead."Yeah I don't worry about any of that stuff. I've got easy calvers, and Beefalo are good mothers and they breed back fast. I always ship a bunch of calves to market each fall, and I know I'll have another good calf crop next Spring. I don't use any of that science stuff. I just use Beefalo and Mother Nature." Well. The Spring Calving Session came to an abrupt end.
Beefalo have always been Low-Input, Sustainable Cattle. Now, more and more cattlemen are turning to Beefalo. To find out how Beefalo can fit into your cattle program, contact a Beefalo Northwest Member via phone or email. You'll find our listings on the membership page.
When folks come to look at our Beefalo I often hear: "Where's the Buffalo in your Beefalo?" For the most part Beefalo look like regular cattle. There are a few very subtle visible Bison traits: Eyes set a little wider on the head, Short tails like the Bison, or more prominent Shoulders. Many confuse Beefalo with Bison Hybrids which have more bison content than Beefalo's 17 to 37.5 percent bison. Its much easier to "see" the Bison in Bison Hybrids. Many are also surprised that Beefalo can be any color. Beefalo may look like cattle but have many of the Bison's attributes. Look at the pictures below:
#1 is a Beefalo. #2 is a Bison Hybrid Cow and Calf and #3 is a Bison with a trace amount of Cattle DNA that are often mislabeled as "Beefalo."
Jon has been involved in Beefalo since 1999, and a Principal in Bold Venture LLC