AMERICA MAKES SOME NEW ANIMALS - By Frank Thone (Miami Daily News Record, 7th March, 1929):-

Crosses between cattle and the native bison, between cattle and long-haired yaks from the Himalayas, between Siberian reindeer and Alaskan caribou, between fat-tailed sheep from Persia and domestic sheep from England, are among the new citizens of the North American west. There won’t be any undesirable citizens among them. Such will be born, no doubt, but the breeder can weed them out as infants. They do not have a chance to survive, as did some of their human prototypes, who later succeeded in escaping even the sheriff’s six-gun or the ready noose of a vigilance committee. That is one advantage the animal melting pot has over the human one. The undesirable animal crosses are cither eliminated at once or survive only as caged up curiosities, to show breeders how not to do it next time.

THE secret behind the efforts of breeders to produce cattle hybrids of kinds that were never seen even in the prophetic dreams of Pharaoh is to be found in a climatic and geographic paradox. The “cow country" of our west is really not now cow country at all. At least it isn't in the modern economic sense; which considers bookkeeping more closely than it does romance. The breeds of beef cattle that have become standard in this country originated in western Europe, on rich pastures where blizzards never howled, and where there was shelter from even the relatively mild storms that did come. Their names tell that: Angus. Durham, Hereford, and so on. They have furthermore been bred in this country to meet the needs of the moderately humid east and not to face the sterner life of the thin-grassed western range where they must shift for themselves as best they can even when a “norther” catches them in the open.

The old Spanish cattle, famous in a thousand novels and movies as “Texas longhorns," came of a stock more easily adapted to drought and cold. But they were not shaped right for modern beef fashions, and had to give way before the eastern breeds which affected the boxcar silhouette, and carried more meat aft. Because these could not stand the climate so well and because they fell easier victims to the terrible tick-borne fever, stockmen early began casting about for possible hardy mixtures to add to their blood. The first possibility, naturally, was the native American buffalo, or bison. Most of these ancient “cattle of the Indians" had been wiped out in the terrible slaughter of the '80’s. but a few cattlemen, either more sentimental or more farsighted than their contemporaries, had kept small private herds going on their ranches. Here was a bovine stock inured to western range life, able to travel and feed at the same time, heedless of blizzards, resistant to disease.

SO they tried crossing bison and cattle. The results at first were not on unqualified success. Domestic cows bore calves in a fair proportion of cases, though frequently with considerable trouble, and at first the offspring were all heifers. It was thought that in such a cross bull calves could not be born alive. The trouble was, that though such hybridization had been tried sporadically for more than a hundred years, it had never been tried on anything like a large scale. Finally, however, Mossom M. Boyd, a Canadian breeder, succeeded in obtaining a bull that was almost one-half bison by mating a pure-bred bison bull with cow that was one-quarter bison. A number of other male calves with a high percentage of bison blood have been obtained. With these the experiments are being continued in Canada, where the shaggy mane of the bison is of especial value in protecting the animal against the blinding snowstorms that sweep the range. The great hump of flesh on the bison’s shoulders tends to be reproduced in the domestic-cross offspring also, so that Mr. Boyd has said, “It does not seem unreasonable, therefore, to suggest that the fur of the bison and his great back may be carried by means of selection without any diminution through succeeding generations of diminishing bison blood until the coat and hump have been practically taken from the bison and placed upon the back of the domestic ox."

CHARLES GOODNIGHT, a pioneer breeder of Texas, agrees with Mr. Boyd in his high estimate of the cattle-bison cross. "They are immune from all diseases as far as I have tested them,” he has stated. "They are much greater in weight, eat much less and hold their flesh better under more adverse conditions. They have a better meat, clear of fiber, and it never gets tough like beef. They have long and deep backs, enabling them, to cut at least 150 pounds more meat than other cattle. More of them can be grazed on a given area. They do not run from heel flies nor drift in storms, but like the buffalo, face the blizzards. They rise on their fore feet instead of their hind feet. This enables them to rise when in a weakened condition. They never lie down with their backs downhill, so they are able to rise quickly and easily. This habit is reversed in cattle.” The name of the final product of the cross-breeding of cattle and bison is itself a cross: “cattalo." Several spellings were put forward, but this one was accepted as standard by the American Genetic Association, of Washington, D. C.

A more recent cattle hybrid than the cattalo, but one which has been more favorably received in the Texas area, is the cross between the humped zebu, or sacred Brahmin cow of India, with domestic stock, It was discovered that the zebu does not fall victim to the tick-borne cattle diseases that take heavy toll of the native stock of European origin. Since the zebu is more neatly related to domestic cattle than is the bison, the two species amalgamate more readily and there is less loss in breeding. Moreover, after a couple of generations a "grade" animal shows little sign of the Indian admixture, but looks very much like its European ancestors. This of course interferes less with conventional market requirements. For these reasons, males With Brahmin blood in them have come to be in considerable demand in th tick-infested parts of the southwest. Since quarantine regulations do not permit the importation of any more breeding stock from the Orient, there are relatively few full-blooded zebu bulls in Texas, and the highest proportion of Brahmin blood usually encountered runs from three-fourths to seven-eighths.

FROM a much more remote quarter of the world than the southwest, and closer to the zebu’s own home, a weird outcross has been reported to the American Genetic Association, although that organization discreetly declines to vouch for its authenticity. This is the offspring of a Philippine carabao, or water buffalo, which unlike our bison is a real buffalo. This animal looks as though it might have been sired by a zebu; at any rate, it is very queer looking for a carabao. But when all is said, the verdict will probably have to remain like that in many another doubtful case east of Suez: “the paternity remains in doubt."

Up in northern Canada, where the Dominion, government maintains the greatest bison ranch in the world, they have, been trying out another Asiatic animal as a possible contributor to the solution of the range cattle problem. This is the yak, a long-haired, brush-tailed, slow-moving, patient, stubborn animal from the cold, storm-swept plateaus of Tibet. The yak has to be patient, for his age-long owners and drivers have been the Tibetans. He has to be stubborn, or he could never have survived association with them. But what is more to the point, he can endure the worst winters in the world. As mates for the yak, the Canadians have brought in some Galway cattle — those rough-coated, hardy beasts than can thrive in the stormy west of Ireland country. The yaks and the Galways must have realized a mutual affinity bred of their respective upland homes, for they have taken kindly to each other, and the result of their union is known as the "galyak." an animal looking rather like a long-haired cow, but still swinging astern the long, white-ended, sacerdotal brush of a tail that is the pride of the yak.

THE galyak is the serious effort of the Canadian breeders, but they have also tried a cross between the yak and the bison. Only one of these hybrids has ever been produced, and it is certainly a most strange creature. In body outline it is intermediate between bison and yak. It wears its coat thick all over, yak fashion, instead of heavy in front and thin behind, like a bison. What it may be like in temperament must be a puzzle to its keepers; for the bison is an unstable, stampedable animal, while the yak wouldn’t go faster than three miles an hour if you built a fire under it. But whatever may be the use or interest of this yakson or bi-yak, whichever you may choose to call it, certainly its zoological cousin, the galyak gives promise of being un animal of real value on the northern Canadian range.

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Among bovines, American Bison bulls (American "Buffalo") have been crossed with domestic cattle to produce Beefalo and Cattalo. These are very variable in type and colour depending on the breed of cattle used e.g. Herefords and Charolais (beef cattle), Holsteins (dairy) or Brahmin (humped cattle). Generally they are horned with heavy set forequarters, sloping backs and lighter hindquarters. Beefalo have been back-crossed to Bison and to domestic cattle; some of these resemble pied Bison with smooth coats and a maned hump. The aim is to produce high protein, low fat and low cholesterol beef on animals which have "less hump and more rump". Although Bison bull/domestic cow crossings are more usual, domestic bull/Bison cow crossings have a lower infant mortality rate (cow immune systems can reject hybrid calves). Modern Beefalo include fertile bulls, making the Beefalo a variety of "improved cattle" with a dash of Bison.

From The Royal Natural History, edited by Richard Lydekker and published 1894: In captivity the America bison breeds freely, not only with its own kind, but with other species of cattle. In the United States a herd has been established by crossing bull bison with domestic cows; the cow bison not producing a hybrid offspring. This hybrid race is perfectly fertile, either with itself or when again crossed with domestic cattle; and it is considered that a strain of bison blood will lead to the cattle in the North-Western States being better enabled to withstand the blizzards of those districts.

There were suggestions of crossing the beefalo to Cape buffalo. Below are images of bull and cow cattalos (from "Wonders of Animal Life" edited by J A Hammerton (1930) and Newnes Pictorial Knowledge (1936).

WILD ANIMALS AT HAGGERSTON. Berwickshire News and General Advertiser, 5th March 1901: The most notable and important part of this collection is the bison herd, which is the largest in Europe, and the only increasing one. Some notes and illustrations of these bison, and of the hybrids between bison bulls and Highland cows, have already appeared in “Country Life." The facts kindly communicated by Mr C. Leyland aroused so much interest at the time, that it is perhaps as well to give a summary in this more general illustration of his collection. The herd consists of twelve bulls, and nine cows and heifers (pure bred), three half bred, ten three-quarter bred, and one seven-eights. It will be seen that the pure bison are fertile, as well the crosses, and though the owner is not going to try the raw cross with bison and domestic cow any more, because the result is often fatal to the latter, there remains a field for curious and most instructive experiments in the various degrees of hybrids. Mr Leyland's herd-book will, in due course, and indeed should now, be one of the most interesting documents in the problem of the development of species and the possible origin of domestic cattle. It will rank with Professor Ewart's [zebra/horse crosses] experiments in interest, and the difficulty of procuring the bison alone makes the record even more unlikely to be equalled elsewhere. The writer has been unable to find the reference to the experiments made in hybridising from the different bovine animals at the Zoo. It was done with great success, and Lord Stanley of Alderley later bred hybrids between the gayal, or wild ox of Assam, and English cattle, the hybrids making excellent beef.

THE WARDEN of the Yellowstone National Park, Colonel C. J. Jones, better known to Americans as "Buffalo" Jones by his efforts to domesticate the American bison, and secure a cross-breed able to endure the winters of the Western plains, spent the latter part of January in the capital, during which time he called upon President Roosevelt, and filed his first report as Warden of the Yellowstone with the Secretary of the Interior. During his visit to Washington, Colonel Jones related many things of interest regarding his latest effort in behalf of the preservation of the American buffalo, and the writer feels that it is no more than fitting that the English readers of the Field should know something of the work of this remarkable man, especially of his latest undertaking, which has at present every promise of success.

Although Colonel Jones was not the first to cross the American bison with domestic cattle, he was the first to point out the value of the half-bred offspring to the Western ranchmen. Prior to the establishment of his buffalo ranch at Garden City, Kansas , such animals had been bred merely as curiosities, but now every Western cattle raiser is anxious to secure a buffalo bull to cross with his domestic cows, so as to obtain a breed of cattle that will stand the winter on the range without artificial food or shelter, and be ready for killing with the first growth of spring grass. Moreover, with the exception of the wild herd in the Yellowstone Park and a few in zoological gardens, the remaining herds of buffaloes, both in the States and England, all owe their origin to the enterprise and perseverance of Colonel Jones. The Corbin herd in New Hampshire, the herd owned by Mr Leland at Haggerston, England, the Allard herd on the Flathead Indian Reservation, a considerable portion of the Goodnight herd in Texas, anti the herd at Salt Lake City, Utah, are composed of animals that came originally from Colonel Jones's great herd at Garden City, Kansas, and their descendants.

Colonel Jones was horn in Illinois, and when quite a youth removed in a “prairie schooner" to the frontier of Kansas. He was for many years a buffalo hurter, seeking the animals for their robes, which he sold at the trading posts. It was then that he became impressed with the hardy nature of the buffalo and the capability it possessed of living where common cattle would either freeze or starve. Long before the last herd had disappeared it was the common belief of old hunters that the extermination of the buffalo was not far distant:;yet out of the hundreds of hunters only four took steps to preserve some of the "red man's cattle." These were Jones, Michael Pablo, James Allard, and Charles Goodnight. After blizzards or "northers" on the plains, Jones had frequently remarked the thousands of frozen carcases of domestic cattle lying about on the prairie, while the buffalo remained unharmed, and the idea occurred to him that, perhaps, a cross between the buffalo and the domestic cow would give the hardy qualities of the former with the docility of the latter. This idea grew on him long after he gave up hunting, and had settled down as a ranchman at Garden City, Kansas, and during the winter of 1886, when the extermination of the buffalo was a matter of only a few years, he determined to put his plan into execution. With that view, he organised an expedition to set out in the spring for the Great Southern herd, which was then located in Northern Texas. His idea was to take with him a lot of milch cows, and to capture the buffalo calves by riding after the herds and lassoing the youngsters that fell behind the main body.

The first expedition was very successful, and a number of calves were captured. Curiously enough, great trouble was experienced in getting them to suckle any except the black, brown, or dun-coloured milch cows of the herd brought for their nourishment from Kansas. None of the calves would have anything to do with an old white cow, until finally one youngster was brought up blindfolded and induced to accept his "off-colour" foster mother. Another calf had to be given his milk out of a bucket, and, after his first feed, refused to take nourishment from any other vessel. Unless the milk was brought in this particular bucket, would straightway butt it over. More expeditions followed the first, each more successful than the preceding. On one occasion Jones struck a herd in which there were ten calves, and he succeeded in lassoing seven of them. [. . .]

Besides capturing a large number of calves from the rapidly diminishing Southern herd. Colonel Jones also purchased the tame herd of Mr Bedson, warden of the Manitoba Penitentiary, as well as several pairs and smaller herds owned by different farmers in Kansas and Nebraska. This gave him something over 200 head of pure buffalo, apart from those he sold to the New York Zoo, parties in Salt Lake City, Mr Leland (of Haggerston). and Mr Austin Corbin, and with these he commenced the rearing of half-breeds, or "catalos," the name given them in the West. [. . .] The financial panic of 1892- 1894 fell with greater severity upon Kansas than upon any other state, and came near involving Colonel Jones in ruin. His herd was broken up and sold. The greater portion was purchased by Michael Pablo and James Allard, for the Flathead Reservation herd, the rest being taken by Messrs Corbin and Goodnight. Later Colonel Jones became associated with Mr Charles Goodnight and is now a partner with the latter in a buffalo ranch in Texas. [. . .]

If there is anything upon which the colonel is enthusiastic, it is the subject of "catalos” and the problem of producing a breed of sheep and cattle capable of living on the Western range all winter without feeding or shelter. This is his great hobby. The problem is, indeed, an interesting one. In Audubon and Bachman's “Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America” will be found a letter (Vol. II, page 51) written to the authors of the work by Robert Wickliffe, of Lexington, Kentucky, who was one among the first persons in this country to cross the buffalo with the domestic cow. This was in 1843, and his experiments its breeding what Jones calls "catalos" extended over a period of thirty years. He obtained his herd of tame buffalo, some twelve or fifteen in number, from the Upper Missouri river.

Colonel Jones was at first led to take a directly opposite view in regard to the tame bull showing an aversion to buffalo cows, but he has since found that buffalo bulls which have remained pretty much all their lives among tame cattle, and domestic bulls that, have been raised among buffalo cows, behave quite as they would if reared among their own species, the difficulty being only with animals that have all their lives been accustomed to their own kind. While in Washington recently he told me that buffalo bulls which have been reared among tame cattle were averse to cows of their own blood, much preferring the domestic species. As to the milk of the buffalo cow being richer than that of the domestic animal, his experiments have yielded the same results as those of Wickcliffe.

The question of colour in the "catalo" is the most interesting point of all. Jones has crossed the buffalo with nearly all the English breeds, except the Jersey and Ayrshire, and the colour is not always what one would expect. He states that the "catalo” or half-blood is nearly always a uniform colour, and that he never saw a spotted one; but he has since bad occasion to alter his opinion slightly in that respect. The cross between a buffalo bull and a Hereford cow, be states, will invariably produce a chesnut coloured "catalo" with a white face, dewlap, and stomach, the Hereford blood being very prepotent, or, in Mendelian terms, "dominant." He regards the cross between the buffalo and the polled Angus and black polled Galloway breeds as being by far the best, the skin of the half-breed buffalo and black Galloway resembling beaver in its rich black-brown glossy sheen. The most remarkable fact in connection with the crossing of the buffalo with these two hornless breeds—a fact which I am authorised by Colonel Jones to state as coming direct from him - is that in the one-half buffalo one-half polled Angus "catalos" are all furnished with horns. "In all any experiments," he states, I have never encountered a buffalo polled Angus half-breed without horns." The horns of these polled Angus "catalos" are not very long, and resemble those of the buffalo. With the black Galloway, however, the case is different. The half buffalo half Galloway "catalos" are hornless, and so also are the three-quarter buffalo one-quarter Galloway animals. It is not until the seven-eighths buffalo one-eighth Galloway offspring is reached that the animals begin to show horns. The Shorthorn or Durham “cataloes" tend to a brindle or seal brown colour. In nearly all the "cataloes" the black dorsal stripe of the buffalo appears, and the short tail, and, what is most curious, a large number present the peculiar zebra pattern of dark striping on a grey ground which Wickliffe, in his letter to Audubon in 1843, mentions as common with many of his half-bred animals. In conversation with the colonel during his last visit to Washington he stated that it was still an open question whether the half-bred bull would produce offspring. The three-quarters, seven-eights, and fifteen-sixteenths buffaloes, he said, resemble the pure buffalo so closely as in some cases, especially in that of the fifteen-sixteenths, to be hardly distinguishable from the wild parent species. These, he states, are not so large as the half-breeds, and he is of the opinion that bulls of the seventh-eighths or fifteen-sixteenths stock will reproduce. The finest robes are from the three-quarters buffalo one-quarter Galloway and seven-eighths buffalo one-eighth Galloway animals. It would seem, therefore, that the question of the fertility of the half-breed bull is still an open one and remains to be settled. [. . .]

In conclusion, it may be well for the benefit of English readers to state that the buffalo and "catalo" craze is now rampant in the West. Colonel Jones has been an enthusiastic in his efforts to produce a race of cattle capable of wintering on the range and enduring the terrible cold of the Western blizzards; animals which, like the buffalo, will when hungry paw the snow aside and eat the grass underneath, that ranchmen are beginning to see fortunes in the enterprise. Possibly by another century the beef of the West will be derived from a race of seven-eighths buffalo one-eighth Galloway half-breeds.- E. S. HALLOCK.


The Zubron (below) is a hybrid between a domestic cow and a Wisent (European Bison, Bison bonasus). As such it is analogous to the American Beefalo or Cattalo. The first Zubrons were created by Leopold Walicki in 1847, although earlier natural hybrids might have occurred where cattle were introduced into the Wisent's habitat. After World War I, the Zubron was considered as a possible replacement for domestic cattle as they were durable and resistant to many cattle diseases. They also thrived on poor pasture, in harsh weather and with minimal husbandry. After World War II and between 1958 and the late 1980s, Zubron herds were bred and maintained by the Polish Academy of Sciences in various laboratories, notably those at Bialowieza and Mlodzikowo. The aim was to create a hardy and cost-effective replacement for cattle and although this aim was achieved, the breeding experiments ceased in the late 1980s. there are only a few remaining Zubrons and these can be found at Bialowieski National Park. Zubrons are heavy animals and larger than Wisents. The males weigh up to 1200 kg and females weigh up to 810 kg. First generation Zubron males are infertile and cannot be used for breeding, but the females are fertile and may be bred back (back-crossed) to either Wisent or to domestic bulls. Males from these back-crosses are fertile.


American Bison (Bison bison) x Wisent/European Bison (Bison bonasus) were bred in the USSR and hybrid herds are now found in the Caucasus where they threaten the purity of European Bison herds. The Caucasian bison is actually a triple hybrid. They are all descended from the last surviving individual Caucasian bison (Bison bonasus caucasicus), a male crossed to 13 lowland bison and 3 American bison. They are on the verge of being recognized as a new subspecies.


A herd of hybrid plains bison x wood bison apparently lived wild in the Yukon, Canada. The Wood bison is a distinct subspecies that almost became extinct in the 20th century. In an attempt to save the Plains bison subspecies, between 1925 and 1928, thousands of Plains bison were released into Wood Buffalo Park (a preserve for the Wood buffalo subspecies). They readily interbred and produced a 12,000 strong herd by 1934. The Wood bison was apparently hybridised into extinction, though a small genetically pure herd was recovered from an isolated area in 1959 and is now being kept isolated from introduced Plains bison. The Toronto Zoo used to ship wood bison they had bred into the Wood Bison National Park. There have been calls to exterminate them either because they are hybrids or due to alleged tuberculosis (which would have come from European cattle instroduced into North America). The wood bison has also been introduced to Alaska and Russia as it is similar to the extinct Steppe bison; it has been introduced to the Steppe bison's former range.


The Bison (American "Buffalo") has also been bred with the domestic Tibetan Yak to create the Yakalo.


Domestic Yak × Wild Yak (Bos mutus) are likely to occur where the female domestic yaks are unprotected from wild males or if domestic yaks wander as feral animals.


YAK / COW HYBRIDS - Ballymena Observer, 3rd October 1857: The hybrid between the yak and the Indian cow is called Chooboo, and it is very remarkable that the chooboos arc fertile. The chooboos, which are most useless domestic animals to the inhabitants of the Himalayas, are brought down to lower places, where yaks do not exist, and where consequently they cannot mix either with yaks or with the Indian cow. We have had occasion to see and examine the offspring of chooboos as far as to the seventh generation, and in all these cases we found the later generations neither much altered nor deteriorated ; and we were moreover informed that there was never found any limit to the number of generations.

In Nepal, Yak/Cow hybrids are bred using Yak bulls on domestic cows or, less often, domestic bulls on Yak cows. The Yak-Cow females are fertile, the males are sterile and the meat is considered superior to beef. In Nepalese, the hybrid is called a Khainag or Dzo (male)/Dzomo (female). A Dzomo crossed with either a domestic bull or yak bull results in an Ortoom (three-quarter-bred) and an Ortoom crossed with a domestic bull or yak bull results in a Usanguzee (one eighth bred). As a result, many supposedly pure Yak and pure cattle probably carry a dash of each other's genetic material. The Zopkio (also from the Nepal region) is a sterile first generation male crossbreed of a yak and a cow usually used as a beast of burden. Testing of the Nepalese Dwarf Lulu breed, a humpless form of Bos taurus type cattle (i.e. "domestic type"), found them to be a mix of European cattle, zebu and yak.

According to the “Illustrated Natural History” by the Rev JG Wood (1853, 1874): The natives of the country where the Yak lives are in the habit of crossing it with the common domestic cattle and obtaining a mixed breed.

From The Royal Natural History, edited by Richard Lydekker and published 1894:There are also many crosses between the Yak and ordinary cattle, some of the breeds being without horns. These half-breeds have the advantage of being able to withstand much higher temperatures than the pure yak; and they may be met with carrying burdens in the hot valley of the Indus, between the town of Leh and Kashmir.

BOVINE HYBRIDS (The Field, 11th September 1897) SIR – It is with such pleasure that I read Mr Tegetmeier's articles that I hardly like to question his facts or deductions in any way. Is he quite sure that the yak will not breed freely with domestic cattle ? I do not think I am mistaken when I say that a few months ago I saw a zebu cow in the London 'Zoological Gardens which was expected shortly to calve to a yak bull, and which, I believe, did so. I will hazard the opinion that the young would prove perfectly fertile. – H.D.P.

This photo from the early 1900s depicts a cavalry soldier in the world's only oxen-cavalry on the frontier between India and China. His mount is a yak/cow hybrid.

In August 2007, the Washington Post reported that 2 US farmers were breeding "yattle" in Purcellville and hoping to sell the meat as a lower-fat alternative to beef. The farmers have nicknamed their hybrids Frankensteers. The hybrids are 50% yak and 50% beef cow and have long faces, low-set ears, thick coats and tails, and oddly angled horns. They also inherit some yak behaviour - charing as a group to within several feet of intruders before halting and lowering their shoulders. Being cold-climate animals, yaks have their fat concentrated on the outside of their bodies, not throughout their bodies. Consequently their meat is low-cholesterol but tends to be slightly tough for western tastes. It is hoped that the hybrids have more palatable meat. In January 2010, Agri-View (a Wisconsin-based agricultural newspaper) carried an article about the "Green Bay Yakkers", 2 brothers who farm pure Yaks. They are personally opposed to breeding hybrids to produce marbled meat (domesticated yaks already carry some cattle blood).

Other crosses of Yak × European Domestic cattle were called “yakows”. The females were fertile (some males may be poorly fertile) and introgressive hybrids were formed with each of the parent species meaning that low levels of yak gene may be present in some domestic cattle and vice versa in regions where these hybrids are routinely bred.

Tumennasan, K, Tuya T, Hotta Y, Takase H, Speed RM, Chandley AC. "Fertility investigations in the F1 hybrid and backcross progeny of cattle (Bos taurus) and yak (Bos grunniens) in Mongolia." Cytogenet Cell Genet. 1997;78(1):69-73.


Wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) x Domestic Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) interbreed freely and these may be a single species differentiated only by domestication.

Lake Chad Buffalo (Syncerus brachyceros) x Forest Buffalo/Dwarf Buffalo (Syncerus nanus) interbreed. African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) x Forest Buffalo/Dwarf Buffalo (Syncerus nanus) interbreed. The main difference between these buffalo is preferred habitat. Hybrid zones occur on forest/savannah margins.


Water Buffalo and Domestic Cattle cannot hybridize; the embryos fail around the 8-cell stage. Numerous records of cross breeding between various species of wild cattle in captivity are given by A.P. Gray (1954), the water buffalo not being included.

In “Out of Africa”, the African memoirs of Baroness Karen Blixen (1885-1962) published in 1937, Blixen writes: ”My manager during the war had been buying up oxen for the army. He told me that he had then, down in the Masai Reserve, bought from the Masai a number of young oxen, which were offspring of Masai cattle and buffalo. It is a much debated question whether it is possible to cross domestic animals with the game: many people have tried to create a type of small horse fitted to the country, by breeding from zebra and horses, though I myself have never seen such cross-breeds. But my manager assured me that these oxen were really half-buffalo. They had been, the Masai told him, a much longer time growing up than the ordinary cattle, and the Masai, who were proud of them, were by this time pleased to get rid of them, as they were very wild.” Blixen continues that these oxen were intractable and could not be broken to harness.

HYBRID [WATER] BUFFALOES. (The Field, 14th May 1904) SIR - ln a former letter to the Field I made some inquiry as to whether or not the water buffalo bad been known to breed with the gayal, banteng, zebu, or domestic ox. In order not to appear ignorant of the fundamental facts of natural history, I may state that at the time I wrote this letter I was well aware that in many works on natural history (notably in Mr Lydekker's area, Sheep, and Goats) it is stated that buffaloes do not breed with other bovines. However, this seems to be a question like that concerning the fertility of mules. In asking this question my object was to elicit something more definite on the subject. Doubtless, if left to their own inclinations, horses and asses would show little desire to cross, and this seems to be the case with cattle and buffaloes. Wherever they are they, apparently, remain separate and apart, and it might be profitable to ascertain whether anyone has taken the trouble of experimenting in crossing these animals with a view to obtaining definite scientific results. - E. S. HALLOCK, Washington, U.S.A.

There were suggestions of crossing the beefalo (American Bison/Domestic Cattle hybrid) to the Cape buffalo.


In "The Variation Of Animals And Plants Under Domestication" Charles Darwin wrote: "Bos primigenius and longifrons have been ranked by nearly all palaeontologists as distinct species; and it would not be reasonable to take a different view simply because their domesticated descendants now intercross with the utmost freedom. All the European breeds have so often been crossed both intentionally and unintentionally, that, if any sterility had ensued from such unions, it would certainly have been detected. [...]The late Lord Powis imported some zebus [Indian humped cattle] and crossed them with common cattle in Shropshire; and I was assured by his steward that the cross-bred animals were perfectly fertile with both parent-stocks. Mr. Blyth informs me that in India hybrids, with various proportions of either blood, are quite fertile; and [...] are allowed to breed freely together."

Bos primigenius (aurochs) and Bos longifrons (Iron Age ox) both refer to the ancestors of domestic cattle, now considered to be the species Bos taurus. The term Bos primigenius is still used to indicate the wild species aurochs.

This article in the Weekly Freeman's Journal, 23rd March 1912, is actually about cattle hybrids, as well mentioning the inability of another paper to distinguish between the zebra and the zebu: WONDERFUL HYBRIDS. We read the following item of news in an agricultural contemporary:- “Herr Hagenbeck, the eminent zoologist, has obtained some wonderful results for the hybridisation of animals. Among his successes are those obtained by crossing the African N’dama cow with the zebra and the European cow with the zebra. One of the progeny scaled two thousand two hundred pounds, and was larger than its parents. It has been proved that such hybrids can resist the diseases which affect European stock, and among the advantages are quick fattening and a plentiful milk supply.” This is the first we have ever heard of a bovine-equine hybrid, something exactly analogous to a cross between a cow and an ass. Wonderful man, Hagenbeck! Or perhaps instead of zebra we should read ZEBU, which would make all the difference.

It is also mentioned (minus the zebra!) in various papers including the Luton Times and Advertiser, in February 1913. KAISER AS A FARMER. The Emperor said experiments in crossing European cattle with the Indian zebu (bos indicus, kind of cattle with a hump over the shoulders), which resulted in the production of a hybrid which His Majesty calls bos indicus major, were also very promising. Herr Hagenbeck, of Hamburg, had bought a number of the Emperor's hybrid bulls for use she Colonies.

Zebu × European Domestic cattle have been crossed to produced commercially useful breeds e.g. Beefmaster (Zebu × Shorthorn and Hereford), Brangus (Zebu × Angus), Australian Charbray and Brazilian Canchim (Indo-Brazilian Zebu cattle × Charolais), Santa Gertrudis (Zebu × Shorthorn) and Korean Hanwoo. Interbreeding of zebu with local cattle has occurred for a considerable time in Africa, resulting in the Sanga cattle breeds. The Indu-Brasil or Indo-Brazilian is a Zebu beef breed developed in Brazil from Gir, Kankrej and Ongole Cattle from India. Zebu/domestic cattle hybrids have also been crossed with the Gaur.


Yak x zebu crosses were also described by Zawadowsky in" Zebu-Yak Hybrids: Sterility of Bull, Fertility of Cows" Journal of Heredity.1931; 22: 297-313. The cross was described as between genera (they are now all considered to be species in the genus Bos). In the first cross, the females are fertile, but the males are sterile. Females were backcrossed to pure zebu bulls resulting in a second generation (2 males shown below). According to Zawadowsky, some traits appeared to be inherited in clusters.

Domestic Yak (Bos grunniens) x Zebu are routinely crossed to produce dzo (zho). Male dzo are sterile, but the females are fertile. Offspring of male yak and female zebu are called urang and the female hybrids are superior milk producers, while offspring of male zebu and female yak are called dimjo and the males are powerful draught animals.

Zebu × Wild Yak (Bos mutus) produce hybrids suited to riding and carrying loads over difficult terrain.

Testing of the Dwarf Lulu breed, a humpless form of Bos taurus type cattle (i.e. "domestic type") in Nepal, found them to be a mix of European cattle, zebu and yak.


Crosses of Zebu with yaks or gaurs result in fertile females and sterile males.

Bali cattle may be domesticated forms of the banteng. There is no record of interbreeding between mithan and wild banteng, mithan and Bali cattle, or Bali cattle and banteng.

(The Field, 14th October 1871) [Regarding hybrids bred at the London Zoological Gardens] The establishment of a stock of gayals (Bos frontalis) would probably have been effected had the cow only been paired with her own species; but as there has been no bull gayal, that cow has given birth to a series of hybrids by a domestic humped bull, which latter is no longer in existence. – ZOOPHILUS

From The Royal Natural History, edited by Richard Lydekker and published 1894: "Gayal [Bos frontalis] will breed with the humped cattle of India, and the product of such a union born in the London Zoological Gardens was again crossed with a bull American Bison. […] The domesticated race [of the Banteng (Bos sondaicus)] breeds freely with the Indian humped cattle."

Gayal/Mithan (Bos frontalis) × Gaur (Bos gaurus) occur. The mithan or gayal (now classified as Bibos frontalis) may be a domesticated form of the gaur. Gaur bulls and domestic mithan cows commonly interbred, but the fertility of the offspring was not recorded.

Gayal/Mithan × Zebu (Bos indicus) hybrids are commonly produced in Bhutan, where female hybrids are backcrossed to Zebu over several generations. The first generation cross is known as the Selembu. The F1 and F2 male hybrids are sterile. The F4 generation is considered to be a Zebu and are re-crossed to Gayal/Mithan bulls. Female hybrids are superior dairy animals while the males are superior draught animals. This practice has been carried on for at least a century, probably far longer. Female hybrids are superior milk producers; males make powerful draft animals, but are sterile (in the F1 generation).

Gaur × Zebu occur in both wild and domestic conditions. The “wild” conditions occurred in Malaysia when a wild gaur bull impregnated a herd of domestic cattle after breaking into a farm. The hybrid calves were golden-brown or black, “alert, vigourous, and feisty with handlers. At least for their first six months of life they grow 70 percent faster than cattle.” Southeast Asian Selembu cattle apparently result from Gaur/Zebu crosses.

Gaur × Banteng (Bos javanicus) is said to produce the Kouprey (Bos sauveli) where the two species come into contact naturally, but this is disputed and the Kouprey is considered to be extinct.

Gaur × European Domestic cattle (Bos taurus ) hybrids occur.

Zebu x Banteng (Bos javanicus) produce infertile male hybrids and fertile female hybrids. The females can be backcrossed to either species. Bali cattle (possibly a domesticated form of Banteng) are crossed with zebu, but the fertility of the offspring is not recorded - if these are domesticated Banteng then the females would be fertile.

(The Field, 20th 1866) The Bos sythetanus (male) figured by F. Cuvier, represents a hybrid between the gayal and the domestic humped cow. A hybrid between the banteng or tsoing [Burmese name] and the domestic humped cow of Java is figured and described by MM. Quoy and Gaynard by the name Bos leucoprymnos. The figure of a female hybrid of the same kind is among the Hardwicke collection of drawings in the British Museum.[. . .] The old bull banteng is black, save the stockings and white patch on rump (whence the name leucoprymnos bestowed on the hybrid by MM. Quoy), while the ox [castrated male], cow, and calf are bright chestnut. – ED BLYTH.

Banteng x European Domestic cattle (Bos Taurus) produces infertile, or poorly fertile, males and fertile females.

Lowland Anoa (Anoa depressicornis) x Mountain Anoa (Anoa quarlesi) may occur as intermediate-looking animals have been observed, but this has not been confirmed.

INTER-BREEDING OF THE GAYAL WITH EUROPEAN CATTLE. (The Field, 31st January 1885) During the past four or five years an elaborate series of experiments has been carried on in the inter-breeding of the gayal (Bos frontalis) and some of the ordinary breeds of the domestic ox of Europe: and Professor Kuhn, of Halle, who has had the exclusive direction of the matter from the outset, has now published an account of the results he has arrived at, which cannot fail to be of much interest to breeders as well as to naturalists. The gayal is found in all parts of Farther India, but especially in the western portion, as well as in Assam, and to the north of Bengal along the foot of the Himalayas. In many districts there are large herds, as in the hilly region of Chittagong, and the animal is found in a wild state as well as domesticated. Dr Brehm, whose death took place only a few weeks ago, remarks, in his great work on zoology, that "the gayal pair readily with other species of horned cattle — as, for instance, with the zebu and the varieties produced by such crossings will breed amongst each other, as well as with their relatives of other descriptions." For the statement here put forward, asserting the fertility of the gayal when paired with other kinds of horned cattle, Professor Kuhn could find no sufficient evidence, and he determined to put it to the test. This he was enabled to do, as the committee of the Calcutta Zoological Soclety had presented the Agricultural Institute of Halle with a pair of gayals — a young bull and cow. They were obtained direct from Chittagong, and arrived In Halle on June 18, 1880. The gayal bull paired readily with cows of every variety of the domestic cattle, both of the European and of African and Asiatic breeds. The result was nineteen gayal hybrids, of which nine were males and ten females. Of these hybrids, the older ones of both sexes have already been used for further experiments, and the results have been sufficiently remarkable.

On being paired with an ordinary European bull, the female gayal hybrid in every case proved fertile. A hybrid helter—a cross between the pure gayal bull and a cow of the Gorman Westerwald breed — was paired with a Devonshire bull, and on Aug. 15 last, when she was not quite two years and nine months old, she gave birth to a cow calf, the period of gestation having been 281 days. The weight of the calf at birth was 56lb., the mother weighing 796lb. At the age of 10 weeks the calf had increased in weight to 178lb., so that it had added to its weight, on the average, about 1-and-three-quarter lb per day. The mother is uniformly black, only the face being white, precisely like the Westerwalder cow from which she was bred. The calf, on the other hand, while showing a white face like her mother and grandmother, differs in being of a reddish-brown colour. In a second case, a heifer hybrid, descended from the original gayal cow and a German bull of the Simmenthal breed, was paired with a shorthorn bull. After a period of 286 days of gestation, she gave birth, on Oct. 20 last , to a bull calf. It was coloured black and white, and at birth weighed 71-and-a-half lb. The mother weighed 999 lb., and her age was 2 years. These and other cases, therefore, conclusively show the fertility of the hybrid gayal cows when paired with European bulls of blood.

Very different was the result with the hybrid gayal bulls. Each of the two hybrid heifers above mentioned was paired three times with hybrid bulls, the latter being descended from Hadersieben and East Frisian breeds, paired with the original gayals. In every case the hybrid cows remained barren, but they conceived at once with Devon and shorthorn bulls. The same barren result followed with two others of the hybrid heifers when put to hybrid gayal bulls. One of the latter was paired twenty-two times—nine times with hybrid heifers, and thirteen times with cows of various unmixed European breeds. Although the pairing was complete in every case, the heifers proved barren. This hybrid bull, soon after the last pairing, was killed, and its various organs were subjected to a thorough examination, when the development was found to be quite normal and healthy. The hybrid gayal bulls, in fact, have, without exception, proved absolutely sterile, though readily pairing both with the hybrid females and the cows of unmixed European race.

It appears to follow from these result., that the gayal is an independent species, and not, as Brehm had assumed, a mere variety of the common domestic cattle of Europe. However, Professor Kuhn considers that some further experiments will be desirable, to have experience of the results of the pairing of hybrid bulls with hybrid heifers without blood relationship. He has received from Calcutta a second pair of gayals, and with these he intends to prosecute the investigation . Professor Kuhn states that the hybrids, judging by his past experience, thrive wonderfully well, feeding well, increasing rapidly in weight, and coming comparatively early to maturity, while the flesh supplies an excellent quality of beef. The question whether it will pay European freemen to introduce the breeding of this race as a regular business remains to be settled ; but Professor Kuhn inclines to the opinion that both for dairy purposes and fur the butcher the gayal hybrid would prove a very useful addition to the present list of the farmer's live stock.


BOVINE HYBRIDS (The Field, 11th September 1897) With reference to Mr Tegetmeier's short article in your issue on the subject of "Bovine Hybrids," may I be allowed to add another instance of a triple hybrid? About 1877 an African cow was brought to the Calcutta Zoological Gardens as foster mother to a young Beisa antelope. This cow was mated with a gayal, and eventually produced a female hybrid, which partook rather of the character of the gayal than of the cow. This hybrid again was mated with a banteng (Bos sondaicus), the produce being a dark red calf, but I forgot whether male or female. Unfortunately, when the last mentioned all was about six months old, an epidemic of pleuro-pneumonia occurred in the gardens, and to this epidemic all the animals mentioned fell victims. This, I think, was about 1886. I am sorry I cannot now give exact dates. – EX AEDE


BOVINE HYBRIDS. (The Field, 11th April 1885). IN THE FIELD of January 31 appeared a very interesting account of the hybrids produced by mating the common domesticated cattle (Bos taurus) with the gayal (Bibos frontalis). In this account the female hybrids were stated to be perfectly fertile, and the males to be barren not only with their own, but with both the parent races. This statement is one of very considerable interest in a physiological point of view, and is worthy of even more careful investigation than it has received. The whole subject of hybridity is one of great importance, not only from scientific, but also from practical considerations. In this country we are apt to allow pre-conceived opinions to influence our investigations to an injurious extent. Many zoologists regard the study of the phenomena of hybridity not merely with indifference, but with contempt, ignoring the interest that the greatest naturalist of modern times, Charles Darwin, took in the subject—just as practical men in England repudiate the experience of the entire civilised world, and refuse to regard the mule as an animal worth cultivation, although in every other country, including the most severely practical of all—namely, the United States—it is considered hardier, more economical to maintain, and less liable to disease then the horse.

The hybrid between the gayal (Biboa frontalis) and the zebu, or common Indian cattle (Bos indicus), has been long known, and was described by St. Hilaire and F. Cuvier as a new species under the name of the jungly gau (Bos sylpetanus) ; and as recently as June, 1884, Mr Bartlett described some very composite bovine hybrids which he had succeeded in raising in the Zoological Gardens. The gayal from which these hybrids in part originated is a well-known domesticated Indian species. In a wild state it is found, according to Jerdon, to the east of the Burrampooter, and at the head of the Valley of Assam, extending probably north and east to the borders of China, and down southward through Burmah. It has, as might be expected from its extensive range, many native names, as mithun, gavi or gabi, and in Chittagong and Assam it is bunerea-gore. It breeds freely in captivity; but the herds are frequently recruited from the wild animals. The earliest description of the gayal was given by Mr Lambert, in a paper read before the Linnaean Society, 180.[. . .]

The hybridisation of the gayal with other bovine animals in the Zoological Gardens is a subject of very great interest, not only from a scientific point of view, as disproving many of the currently accepted theories regarding hybridisation, but from practical considerations also, as it is obvious that some of the crosses so produced might advantageously be employed so as to influence the structure, habits, or milking qualities of our domestic races of oxen.

Several hybrids have been bred in the Gardens between this species and the male zebu. The first of these was born on Oct. 29. 1868. In due course she was mated with a zebu bull, and produced five three-quarter bred calves on the following dates: The first on June 16, 1872 ; the following on Oct. 16, 1873 ; Jan. 5, 1875 ; March 11, 1876 ; and the fifth on Nov. 2, 1878. She was then mated to an American bison, and on May 21, 1881, gave birth to a female calf, which combined in itself the blood of the zebu, gayal, and American bison. This remarkable animal might almost pass muster for an ill-bred cow. Its head and horns are not unlike those of the gayal, and its withers are very high, the udder being small. In colour it is a dull brownish black, paler on the ears and around the eyes, and with a light muzzle. When two years old she was mated to a bison bull, and on March 12, 1884, produced a female calf, which, aocording to one mode of stating the pedigree, is one-eighth gayal, one-eighth zebu, and six-eighths bison, and, as might be expected, showed very little trace of its cross-bred origin. It was, when three months old, indistinguishable from a pure-bred bison of the same age, having, in contradistinction to the long tail of the mother, the very short bent tail of the American bison. It will perhaps render the relation of these hybrid animals more easily understood if I quote Mr Bartlett's table

Mr Bartlett, who superintended these instructive experiments in cross-breeding, was very much struck with the wonderful fertility of the hybrid race and came to the conclusion that the hybrid gayal and zebu would have bred freely with any true bovine animal.

I think it to be regretted that experiments in this direction are not carried out more systematically; for in the numerous bovine animals that exist there must be some characteristics which could be usefully engrafted on domestic races. In fact it is more than probable that out domestic breeds have been thus produced; and, should that be admitted, it cannot be denies that we have every reason to expect that good results may follow from pursuing a similar course, with the aid of our scientific knowledge, to that adopted, perhaps from necessity, by the earlier breeders. The bovine animals that might form the subjects of similar experiments are numerous, and have been arranged by naturalists in many different genera […]

London Daily News, 24th April 1886. Zoological students should not fail to notice the hybrid bovine animals bred in the Gardens by Mr. A. D. Bartlett, the indefatigable superintendent, A female hybrid has been produced not only by the intermixture of three well-marked species (zebu, gayul, and bison), but according to present definitions three distinct genera. Mr. Bartlett has long had a theory that some of the domestic animals, for the origin of which there has been no definite explanation, have resulted from a mixture of species, and he has certainly upset the long-established dogma that it was impossible to breed from a hybrid.

BOVINE HYBRIDS (The Field, 4th September 1897) The subject of hybridity, and especially of bovine hybrids, has always possessed considerable interest for me. As long since as 1885, I contributed an article to the Field describing the late Mr Bartlett's careful experiments on this subject, of which I regret no practical application was ever attempted to be made. Mr Bartlett bred from an Asiatic zebu and a gayal. The hybrid so produced he mated with an American bison, producing a triple hybrid, which proved fertile with a bison. My attention has been recalled to this subject by the receipt of letter from an old correspondent, who writes to me as follows :

I think it might interest you and your friends to know that I have a cross-bred heifer from a yak cow and a zebu bull. Mr Jamrach writes that he never heard of this cross before. I have also a pure-bred yak calf—the first, I think, ever bred in Ireland. A.S.G. CANNING. The Lodge, Rostrevor, co. Down, Ang. 25.

On looking through the lists of the animals in the Zoological Gardens I find that no hybrid yak has ever been produced, and Mr Vasey, in his work on the ox tribe, writing of the yak, states that : “A fine male was brought to England by Warren Hastings, and several attempts were made to procure a cross with it and the common English cow. but without success, as he invariably refused to associate with the ordinary cattle.“ Nevertheless there appears to be no doubt that the yak will breed with the cow, for not only have we the example just furnished by Mr Canning, but Mr Blanford, in his valuable "Fauna of British India," after describing the species, states that they breed freely with domestic cattle. W.B. TEGETMEIER

London Evening Standard, 21st March 1900. Mr. Edward Bartlett's "Life Among Wild Beasts in "The Zoo" (One Vol. Chapman and Hall) is principally made up of notes left by his father, the late Mr. A. D. Bartlett, for nearly forty years the Superintendent of the Zoological Gardens, and of papers contributed by him to scientific journals and the public Press. [. . .] is the paper on Hybrid Bovine Animals, in which some remarkable experiments are recorded, which may be thus summarised. In 1868 a female hybrid was born from a Gayal cow by a Zebu bull; from this hybrid and an American bison bull, in 1881, a second female hybrid was born, from which a third hybrid was bred to a bison bull in 1884. It seems a pity that the experiments were not continued ; but they satisfied Mr. Bartlett that hybrids so produced would have bred with any true bovine animal. All three are represented in the book, but it would have added to their interest had the plates been reproduced in colours, as they originally appeared in the Proceedings (1881).


ELAND-OX HYBRID, Ernest Warren, Nature, Vol 129, pg 828 (1932). THE crossing of the eland and domestic cattle has been reported fairly frequently, and some years ago several cases were alleged in Southern Rhodesia. After a prolonged correspondence (1923), in which assistance was given by the local magistrate, the late Mr. W. Farrer, it was concluded that the reported hybrids were not authentic. The owner stated that they were almost indistinguishable from domestic cattle, and the fact that tame bull elands will readily serve domestic cows seemed a sufficient explanation of the alleged hybridism.

Johannesburg ( received April 13 . )—Two animals of a new species, hybrids between an eland bull and Friesian cows , are on show at the Pretoria Zoo this month . They are called "cattelands ." It is hoped that they will possess something of the immunity of the eland (a heavily built type of antelope ) to certain cattle diseases. The colour of the hybrid is red—a fact of great scientific-interest, for black is the colour always perpetuated in cattle crosses .


The only bovid crosses that are known to be fully fertile are Bos Taurus (common cattle) x Bos indicus (zebu) and Bison bonasus (European bison) x Bison bison (American bison). Crosses involving the yaks or gaurs result in fertile females and sterile males. The mithan or gayal (now classified as Bibos frontalis) may be a domesticated form of the gaur. Gaur bulls and domestic mithan cows commonly interbred, but the fertility of the offspring was not recorded. Bali cattle may be domesticated forms of the banteng. There is no record of interbreeding between mithan and wild banteng, mithan and Bali cattle, or Bali cattle and banteng. Bali cattle are crossed with zebu, but the fertility of the offspring is not recorded.

Lowland Anoa (Anoa depressicornis) x Mountain Anoa (Anoa quarlesi) may occur as intermediate-looking animals have been observed, but this has not been confirmed.

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