Entry in progress—B.P.
Beefalo are a fertile hybrid offspring of domestic cattle, Bos taurus, and the American Bison, Bison bison (generally called buffalo in the US). The breed was created to combine the best characteristics of both animals with a view towards beef production.
The term Cattalo is defined by United States law as a cross of bison and cattle which have a bison appearance; however, in Canada, cattalo is used for hybrids of all degrees and appearance. In the U.S., Cattalo are regulated as “exotic animals” along with pure bison, elk, and deer. Beefalo are primarily cattle in genetics and appearance with the breed association defining a full Beefalo as one with three eighths (37.5%) bison genetics while they call animals with higher percentages of bison genetics as “bison hybrids”.
Accidental crosses were noticed as far back as 1749 in the southern English colonies of North America. Cattle and buffalo were first intentionally crossbred during the mid-1800s. Charles Goodnight was one of the first to succeed and called his hybrid cattalo. After seeing thousands of cattle die in a Kansas blizzard in 1886, Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones also worked to cross buffalo and cattle with the hope that they would survive the harsh winters. He called the result “cattalo” in 1888. Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon, Ontario first started the practice in Canada. After his death in 1914, the Canadian government continued experiments in cross-breeding up to 1964 with little success. Lawrence Boyd continues the crossbreeding work of his Grandfather on a farm in Alberta.
It was found early on that crossing a male buffalo with a domestic cow would produce few offspring but that crossing a domestic bull with a buffalo cow apparently solved the problem. The female offspring proved fertile but rarely so for the males. Although the cattalo performed well, the mating problems meant that the breeder had to maintain a herd of wild and difficult-to-handle buffalo cows.
In 1965, Jim Burnett of Montana produced a hybrid bull that was fertile. Soon after, Cory Skowronek of California formed the World Beefalo Association and began marketing the hybrids as a new breed. The new name, Beefalo, was meant to separate this hybrid from the problems associated with the old cattalo hybrids. The breed was eventually set at being genetically at least ⅝ Bos taurus and ⅜ Bos bison. A USDA study showed Beefalo meat, like bison meat, to be lower in fat and cholesterol. The association claims that beefalo are better able to tolerate cold and need less assistance calving than cattle while having domestic cattle’s docile nature and fast growth rate; they are also thought to produce less damage to rangeland than cattle.
In 1983, the three main Beefalo registration groups reorganized under the American Beefalo World Registry. Until November 2008, there were 2 Beefalo Associations, the American Beefalo World Registry and American Beefalo International. These organizations jointly formed the American Beefalo Association, Inc. which currently operates as the registering body for Beefalo in the United States.
Wikipedia: Charles Goodnight
Charles Goodnight (March 5, 1836 – December 12, 1929) was a cattle rancher in the American West, perhaps the best known rancher in Texas. He is sometimes known as the “father of the Texas Panhandle.” Essayist and historian J. Frank Dobie said that Goodnight “approached greatness more nearly than any other cowman of history.”
In addition to raising cattle, Goodnight preserved a herd of native American Bison, which survives to this day. He also crossbred buffalo with domestic cattle, which he called cattalo. After Goodnight had already left the JA, Tom Blasingame came to the ranch in 1918. Blasingame worked there most of the next seventy-three years, having, at the time of his death in 1989, become the oldest cowboy in the history of the American West.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Also cattalo, cattelo. [f. CAT(TLE + BUFF)ALO.]
A cross between the male buffalo and the domesticated cow.
1889 Kansas Times & Star 20 May, Colonel [Charles] Goodnight was the first man to experiment with crossing buffalo and cattle. A big herd of the hybrids, called ‘cattalo’, is now on his Texas ranch.
1894 San Francisco Midwinter Appeal 10 Feb. 3/3 Grand Exhibit of Buffaloes and Cattleos.
1899 C. J. JONES in H. Inman Buffalo Jones’ Forty Years of Adv. 243 To these cross-breeds I have given the name ‘Catalo’, from the first syllable of cattle and the last three letters of buffalo.
1906 Harper’s Mag. Apr. 798 [The buffaloes] sad captives sinking to slow extinction in the hybrid cattelo with his mongrel name.
1923 Chambers’s Jrnl. July 454/1 The crossing of buffalo with domestic cattle. From the mating..has been evolved the ‘cattalo’.
1958 Irish Times 23 Aug., The Cattalo, which was bred in Alberta, is an animal with fine beef qualities.
Buffalo Jones’ Forty Years of Adventure
Compiled by Colonel Henry Inman
London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company
DESCRIPTION AND HABITS OF CATALO
Cyclopedia of American Agriculture
Edited by L. H. Bailey
New York, NY: The Macmillan Company
Monday, Jun. 10, 1946
Canadian cattlemen wanted a new breed of cattle. They wanted a breed that could withstand the sub-zero winters and swirling blizzards of the western provinces. In a storm, cattle huddled with their hindquarters facing the wind, and often smothered in the thick snow. When recumbent cows and steers tried to get up, they instinctively tried to raise their hindquarters first. Often they fell on their faces, starved to death.
They crossed Aberdeen Angus, Shorthorn and Hereford stock with buffalo. The offspring were called cattalo. First generation cattalos looked like king-sized cattle with a marked shoulder hump. By the third generation the hump had been bred out, reproduction bred in. So crossbreeding was dropped for straight cattalo-raising.