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 that it has been in recent years.
The main purpose of crossing Buffalo with domestic cattle is to develop an animal that is easy 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’s also inherited the Buffalo’s small-calves, making calving much easier then 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 Beefalos is their hardiness. The coat on the Beefalo is very dense, which protects the animal against both weather and injury.
The Beefalo has also inherited the Buffalo’s large open pores, which help to cool the body in hot weather. While Beefalo’s 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 the 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, they 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 the first time they saw the hardy, 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 three 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.