Beefalo are a composite cattle breed first developed in the United States. This breed combines the American bison with a domestic cattle breed and was initially bred to combine characteristics of both animals for beef production.
Beefalo are incredibly hardy and easy to care for, but there’s more to know about this cattle breed before you consider becoming a producer yourself. Keep reading below to find all the information you need to know about beefalo.
Quick Facts about Beefalo Cattle
|Breed Name:||Beefalo Cattle|
|Place of Origin:||United States|
|Bull (Male) Size:||2,000 pounds|
|Cow (Female) Size:||1,500 pounds|
|Color:||Fawn, red, black|
|Production:||Beef & milk|
Beefalo Cattle Origins
Breeding bison and cattle is not something new, but it’s been a learning curve for producers. The crossing often resulted in poor fertility, which made producing offspring very difficult. Eventually, producers determined that crossing male bison with a domestic cow would often result in very few offspring. They then learned that crossing a domestic bull with a bison cow seemed to fix this problem.
For the cattle to be considered a beefalo, it needs to have the perfect balance of genes. The bison level must be 3/8ths, while the domestic cattle is 5/8ths.
Beefalo cattle combine the best qualities of its two founding breeds. It takes the hardiness, foraging skills, calving ease, and high-quality bison meat and combines it with the fertility, milking ability, and easy bovine handling.
Unlike traditional domestic cattle, beefalo can survive in a wide variety of climates. They can do well in areas of extreme cold or extreme heat thanks to their genetically-bison coat. Despite this thick coat, they’re able to sweat through their skin in the hot summer months to stay cool.
Beefalo have a high degree of fertility. They will mature younger and start breeding earlier than their domestic cattle counterparts. Calves are born easily and don’t require any special care from the producer. They’re born small, weighing in at around 40 to 60 pounds, but grow rapidly, reaching 800 to 1,000 pounds by the time they’re 10 to 12 months old. Beefalo can reproduce until they’re 25 years old, compared to the domestic cattle’s reproductive life of just 8 to 10 years.
Cows produce more milk than cattle or bison, and the milk is richer with a sweeter and creamier taste.
There are some concerns that beefalo are an invasive species as they can pollute and dry up water sources, thus negatively impacting biodiversity as well as the cleanliness of their environment. The American Beefalo Association, however, believes that these invasive cattle are actually buffalo hybrids and not beefalo.
Beefalo tend to be cheaper to raise and maintain than regular domestic cattle. They’re fantastic for farmers looking to produce grass-fed beef as they survive mostly on grass and need little to no grain feeding.
Beefalo meat is USDA-proven to be lower in fat and cholesterol and is lower in calories for consumers.
Milk from cows is rich and creamy in texture, making it perfect for drinking and making cheese or ice cream.
Appearance & Varieties
Beefalos are found in a variety of colors, from dark black and red to light fawn. Their size and appearance are like domestic cattle, as that’s where most of its genetics come from. Adult beefalos can weigh anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds and reach heights of around 55-inches.
Beefalo has a cattle-like body without the classic bison hump.
The beefalo’s coat is very unique as it has very fine hairs and is quite dense, which allows it to adapt to very cold climates.
Beefalo is primarily produced in the United States and Australia, though countries like New Zealand, Brazil, and South Africa also have small herds. There is a rising demand from consumers, so more producers are needed to meet this increasing demand.
Are Beefalo Good for Small-Scale Farming?
Since beefalo are so hardy and produce superior meat, producers can enjoy enhanced productivity over regular beef. Farmers don’t need to use growth hormones to accelerate the growth of beefalo as they sometimes need to do in cattle. Beefalos grow and develop fast and require less food and economic investments (up to 40% less) from their producers. For this reason, we think that beefalos are good for both small and large-scale farming.