Can a Bison Mate with Buffalos?


Can a Bison mate with a Buffalo

Yes, They can and we will explore this in detail. But a Breed that is a cross between a Bison and Cattle are called Beefalo. This Breed has been developed by careful Managed Breeding Programs. Accidental crossbreeds are found back to 1750, It was done on purpose in 1886 by ” Buffalo James” of Garden City Kansas

He saw Gigantic losses in cattle herds with a very harsh blizzard winter. He thought to develop a tougher breed of cattle that would be a good meat producer and be able to cope with harsher winters.

Bison Special Handling Required

What is the difference Between Bison and Buffalo

In looking closely at these two Cousins closely we will see a lot of Similarities. Bison are divided int Two Main categories. The American Bison ( Which is composed by Plains and Woods Bison) and the European Bison ( which at one time at the end of WWI was extinct and because of aggressive management have been repopulated to stable herd size.

The American Bison is also called the American Buffalo

These Animals exited in the Wild State Roaming across The United States and also Europe Hundreds of years ago. Today they are on Farms and also Free range –

For Buffalos, you have the Water Buffalos, Cape Buffalos and African Buffalos. These are Domesticated Varieties. There are some in the wild but the majority are domestic.

Our Table below will give you some of the characteristics of each breed.

BreedsWeightOriginCurrent PopulationLargest Recorded
Plains Bison700 - 2200 lbsUnited States3,000 - Yellowstone3,800 lbs
Woods Bison790 - 2400 lbsUnited States7,000 - Canada
European Bison1800 - 2200 lbsEurope / Russia7,500 ( 2019 )4,200 lb
American Bison / American Buffalo880 - 2200 lbsUnited States New York - Colorado545,0003,800 lb
Water Buffalo1700 - 2600 lbsAsia130 Million2650 lbs
Cape Buffalo / African Buffalo660 - 1900 lbsAfrica900,0002,000 lbs
American Buffalo

Can Bison Mate with Cows

Yes, they are both from the same family Bovidae – When a Bison Breds with a Cow, the offspring is called a Beefalo. The Offspring are infertile, so they cannot reproduce on their own. The Beefalo is 3/8 Bison and 5/8 Cow. The Female Cow is usually the bison.

It was difficult because the farmer had to keep wild Bison Cows and then breed them to their Cattle studs. This Breed was called first called “cattalo”

If they reversed that with the female being the cow they had a very high fatality in the birth rate.

In 1965 Jim Burnett developed a new hybrid called a Beefalo. He bred a Bull that was fertile. And then began Began Marketing the Hybrids as a New breed. Today a Beefalo usually runs around $ 500 – $600.

Can Bison Mate with other Species – Hybrids

Yes Bison Can Breed with Other species. The Offspring of a carefully managed breeding program is called a “Hybrid” many times the offspring are infertile. Bison have been bred with these other species.

  • European Bison Breeding With Cattle – Zubron
  • American Bison Breeding with Cattle – Beefalo ( cattalo ) – Herefords, Brahamas, Holstein, Charolais
  • American Bison Breeding with Tibetian Yak – Yakalo
Zubron

It is usually very attractive to take some of the Domestic of the Bovine species and try to breed them to bison. Bison are Strong, have great Leather coats that protect them from harsh winters. These hearty animals and breed those qualities into their domestic cattle.

Do Bison Mate for Life

No, In the Bison Herd, usually the males run together in their own group, and then the Cows and Calves Run together. When a Cow decides to let a bull Breed with her, she will allow him to mate 2, 3 times. One Bull can service 10 – 15 Cows.

Bison farmers will keep a Bull for 2-3 Years then they will try to upgrade to a better Bull. They will constantly be trying to breed their Herds to be healthier. Meatier, more disease and parasite resistance.

Which Bison have Horns

In Bison Herds both the Cows and the Bulls have horns. Young Bulls have a spike horn until about 2-3 years of age. In Yearling Males, the Spike is at 45 degrees to his head. Yearlings have bases approximately 2 3/4″ in Diameter and Mature Bulls with Bases about 3 1/2″ in Diameter, Middle-aged Bulls the horns turn Up and End.

Horns in the Female Cows. They have smaller bases than the Males. Yearling Cows base is about 2″ in Diameter, Mature Cows the Horns are approx 2 1/2″ in Diameter.

Some Horn Characteristics are

  • Calf Horns 1 – 3″ Long and stick out Straight at 45 degree angles – in both male and females
  • Yearling Horns re 45 Degrees and start to turn up by end of the first season
  • Middle Aged Horns are L Shaped
  • Older Horns develop into C shape
Females / CowsMales / Bulls
Small HeadLarger Heads
Narrow ForheadWider Forehead
Heads O shapedHeads V Shaped
Smaller Horn BasesLarger Horn Bases
Yearling Base - 2" in DiameterYearling base 2 3/4" in Diameter
Mature Bases 2 - 2 1/2" Mature Bases 3 1/2" +

What is Bison Horning

During the Bison Mating season, usually in the late spring. Bull Bison have a tendency to rub their horns on trees. Saplings any woody vegetation. Many times they prefer the evergreens and by rubbing they cover their horns with sap that it is thought that the bison are doing it for insect repellant.

When conifers, cedars, are not available the male bison will search out willows. If none is available, they have been noted to rub in inanimate objects, poles, fenceposts.

Do Female Bison have Horns

Yes, In Bisons both Males and female bison have horns. The Horns are very similar just usually larger in Diameter in the Bulls

Do Bison Breed with Cattle

There have been cases where bison have bred with Domestic cattle without the guidance of a farmer. Kind of in a wild scenario. But usually the offspring from these unstructured unguided breeding, offspring were born fertile. Plus with many birth failures, especially if it was female cows were bred.

Most of the Hybrids we have today have come from well managed genetic programs. Guided Breeding to maximize beef production and heartiness of the stock.

What is Bison Wallowing

Wallowing (rolling in the Dirt) is where a bison will lay down in a depression in and begins to roll and if watching enjoying themselves. Sometimes it will be a mudhole, a dust hole. Where the animals will roll and scratch and sometimes covered with mud.

Some times this is described as a “dust bath” It as seen as the bison scratching, possibly skin irritations. Scratching insect bites. Possible scratching to remove winter Hair. It is also seen as that the Bison is coating itself with a layer of mud, dirt, dust to help soothe irritation and fly and insect protection.

At times the Male Bull Bison will also Use Wallowing to increase his male prowess. Sometimes the Bull will urinate in his dust Boel then begin to roll. making sure that his type of cologne is evenly spread. This has been noted during the mating season.

Some of these wallows are so large they catch water and serve as water holes for smaller wildlife.

Can a Cattalo / Beefalo Reproduce

When Cross Breeding began in 1965, Bisons were bred with domestic cattle. They were originally called ” Cattalo”. These First Crossbreeds the males were infertile. The program was small and hard to make flourish.

In 1965 a Montana farmer bred the first fertile Bull. They called this breed Beefalos and with that breakthrough were able to develop a Breed of its own. An Organization was formed and beefalo began to be Bred on a commercial basis.

Beefalo – American Beefalo Association

Beefalo Domestication

Wild Bison are challenging to farm. Whereas Domestic Cattle have been bred and raised with docile natures being bred in.

Beefalo Advantages

There are Many Advantages to Raising Beefalo that have encouraged the Breeding Programs.

  • Beefalo Meat is Healthier and More Nutritious than normal Beef
  • Longer Reproductive Lifespans for Breeding’
  • Small Calve Size at Birth – easier
  • Very Hearty for Extreme Climates Cold – Hot
  • Disease resistant
  • Great Mothers
  • Excellent Meat Formation and Quality
  • It cost also 40% Less to produce than standard beef
  • Better Milker than Bison
  • More Docile than Bison
  • Less Care Intensive
  • Beefalo Grow very fast and do not Need Growth Hormone.

Beefalo Disadvantages

  • Infertility – There are not many – The major Difficulty with the Breed is infertility. When the Bison Cow Produces a Calf and it is a Female. Most of the Females are fertile. When it is a Male they are mostly Infertile which leads to question the longevity of Breed.
  • This Breed is more expensive because of challenging Breeding scenario.

Beefalo Growth

Beefalo Grow very Fast. They can exist on grasses They Grow so fast that Farmers do not need any Growth Hormone. This also leads to being able to raise more Organic Meat.

They Calve easily which also give greater meat production Rates

The Quality of the Beefalo meat is superior to Beef

American Beefalo Association

Beefalo Breeders

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