THE STORY OF THE CATTALO
AMERICA MAKES SOME NEW ANIMALS (EXCERPTS)
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.
Click image for larger size
ANIMAL ANOMALIES (EXCERPTS)
Hybrids Often Sterile; Many Tests Cited, With Photos. By Harry Spindler, Zoologist, Educational Campaign Sponsored by Ohio Department of Education.
Any group of pictures of hybrid or cross-breed animals is apt to show a preponderance of crosses between domesticated species, for man naturally is most interested in working with animals that are of direct value to him. The dark birds at the top are crosses between pheasants and bantam chickens; the lighter birds are young pheasants. The bird in the circle is a hybrid between peafowl and a guinea fowl.
At middle left is a picture of two calves sired by an Africander bull (of a kind of African cattle) and their mother was a domestic Aberdeen-Angus cow. The bull at bottom left is the result of a Brahman-Angus cross (the Brahman is a kind of Asiatic cattle). Both these foregoing crosses were attempts to combine the beef-producing qualities of our domestic cattle with the ability of the foreign cattle to resist tropical and semi-tropical climates–as in our Gulf Coast area. Note the hump on the Brahman-Angus bull's back–the pure Brahman cattle have even larger and more pendulous humps.
At bottom right is a cattalo bull –a cross between domestic cattle and the American bison. The peafowl hybrid picture is from the New York Zoological Society; the other pictures are from the United States Bureau of Animal Industry.
The term “hybrid” usually is limited to offspring whose parents are of different species. Such hybrids are, to a high degree, incapable of reproducing. The term ‘“crossbreed” usually is applied when describing the offspring of two man-made breeds or varieties of the same species. Sometimes they are referred to as half-breeds. They are usually fertile. It seems that the more closely the species are related, the higher the offspring's degree of fertility will be. However, there is no set rule as to fertility or sterility of hybrids. Sometimes only one sex is found to be fertile; sometimes neither.
When man tampers with Nature he may improve her work in some respects, but in doing so he invariably runs into trouble. It would seem that Nature demands its toll for being interfered with. For instance when a cross is made between the domestic cow and the bison the young are usually fertile females, but the males of such a cross usually die before birth. The bison and cattle are conceded to be of' different species. Their hybrid offspring is called a “cattalo” (a word manufactured from the term “cattle’ and the bison's misnomer “buffalo’). When a cross is made between our domesticated cattle and either the Brahman or Africander cattle (Asiatic and African humped cattle) the offspring are usually fertile. Some authorities are of the opinion that all three are merely different varieties of one species.
(Copyright, 1937, By Harry Spindler.)
ATTEMPTS FAIL TO CROSS COW AND BUFFALO
ATTEMPTS FAIL TO CROSS COW AND BUFFALO. Austin American Statesman, 6th July 1939.
“Cattalo” Offspring Usually Proves to Be a Female. Attempts to develop a hybrid animal dubbed “cattalo” by crossing buffalo and beef cattle have failed because breeders invariably have had trouble in getting a male calf, according to an article in The Cattleman, ranchman’s magazine. The article lists Col. Charles Goodnight in Texas, “Buffalo” Jones in Kansas, and Mossom Boyd in Canada as having made earnest but unsuccessful efforts to cross buffalo and cattle.
From the experiences of a “cattalo” breeder, the article reports: “when the domestic cow is at last in calf by the buffalo bull, she has not more than one chance in four to five to bear a calf. If the embryo calf is of the male sex, her chances of survival are nil, and she may be expected to die in a few months from a sort of dropsical condition... If the calf, on the other hand, is a female, she has an even chance to deliver a healthy calf.”
A noted example of the female “cattalo”’ growing to maturity is that of “Travelling Jenny,” an outcast in the cattle herd of William Connolly of Kiildeer, N. D. “Traveling Jenny’ is the offspring of a buffalo sire and a Hereford dam. She bears closer resemblance to her dam than is usual with ‘cattalo,” the article says. Weighing 1,650 pounds, she was known in the Bad Lands of North Dakota as the “fleetest, strongest cow in the Great Northwest.”
1830s - CHARLES COODEY’S BISON/CATTLE HYBRIDS (CHEROKEE COUNTY, OKLAHOMA)
CATTALO WERE RAISED MANY YEARS AGO. The Arrow Democrat, 10th December 1920.
During recent years there has been published a great deal of matter concerning the cattalo. The prevailing opinion is that these hybrids between the bison and the domestic cow are of latter day origin. Only a short time ago one of the leading daily newspapers of Oklahoma printed an interesting story concerning cattalo, one paragraph of the story being about as follows:
“The cattalo, a hybrid, is a product which we owe to the experiments of the late Mr. Mossom Boyd, a Canadian breeder with advanced ideas, who succeeded in this line where others failed.’’
Another man, an Oklahoman, received considerable mention several years ago, he, at the time being credited with having been the original cattalo man, but it seems that the honor belongs to a citizen who lived a few miles from this place eighty-six years ago, somewhat longer than most of us can remember. The story relating to this pioneer and his half breed cows was often told some years ago by a man who had lived in the Cherokee nation for nearly seventy-five years. He stated that in the year of 1834, being then 10 years of age, he with his father rode on horseback from their home near the western boundary line of Arkansas Territory to the Park Hill neighborhood to the place where the town of Tahlequah was afterwards established. The country was then sparsely settled, for the principal portion of the Cherokees did not arrive until five years later.
At the time of the visit to this section there was only one house anywhere near the site of our present city and all about the prairies and woodlands lay in their original condition. Out in the Park Hill neighborhood, at no great distance from where the Cherokee national female seminary was built long after there lived an old settler who bore the name of Charles Coodey. His home was near a big spring which flowed from the base of a flinty hillside and besides a number of milk cows this pioneer was the owner of several half-breed cows, half domestic cow and half bison, or as is usually called, buffalo. The domesticated cattle and the half breeds pastured together upon the luxuriant grass and wild peas of the woodlands and prairie and furnished a portion of the milk used by the settler and his family, and he did not care to sell any of his mixed-blood stock.
Although scientific men, wise men and know-it-all men have been of the belief and opinion that cattalo are of recent origin, it seems that all have been mistaken and “have another think coming.” So far as known, Mr. Coodey, early settler in the Park Hill neighborhood, was the original cattaloer, but as he lived in the “howling wilderness of the Indian Territory,” and as there were then no telephone or telegraph wires, knowledge of his achievement did not get very far beyond the circumscribed limits of his home nelghborhood. In fact, it may be said that the intelligence did not spread at all. 'Travelers who passed through the locality no doubt looked with some degree of interest upon the “curious cows,” but the great outside world remained in profound ignorance of their existence, and now, more than four score years later various and sundry persons are energetically yielding their pens or agitating their typewriters to the end that the people of the United States may be informed of the fact that this, that or the other man is worthy of being remembered as the original cattalo man.
1906 – JAMES “SCOTTY” PHILLIPS’ BISON/CATTLE HYBRIDS (SOUTH DAKOTA)
A SOUTH DAKOTA HERD. The Washington Post, 7th January 1906.
The herd of James Phillip, who is known all over the western range as “Scotty” Philip, is kept on the range near Fort Pierre, South Dakota, and is one of the most thriving in existence, but it is maintained and guarded zealously, at great expense, and brings little return to the owner. The herd consists of sixty-one full-blooded buffaloes and fifty heads of cattalo a cross between buffaloes and Angus cattle.
1900s – MOSSOM BOYD’S CATTALO (THE WAINWRIGHT CATTALO, ALBERTA, CANADA)
CHEAPER BEEF FROM CATTALO. The Boston Globe, 19th May 1915.
ADDING BUFFALO TRAITS TO BEEF. The Washington Post, 9th May, 1915
(and many others)
Grazing on the pastures of one of the greatest ranches of the Southwest is a herd of shaggy beeves. On the back of each is a great hump reminiscent of the buffalo that once found his way to that part of the National domain. In the barnyard of a great stock farm in Ontario, thousands of miles away, is another group that looks as if it might have sprung from the same stock. These two herds are the contribution of the buffalo to the wealth of the American people. In them may lie the secret of cheap beef, for the ‘‘cattalo” is a hybrid that holds true to his ancestors. that does not know disease, that does not fear the blizzard of the plains, that waxes fat and heavy on lean pastures, when the ordinary beef animal is starving.
This strange new animal–the cattalo –is the product of breeding together bison and cattle. The hybrid has all the good qualities of both–the beef qualities of cattle, and the weight, hardiness and ability to live on scant pasturage so characteristic of the bison. Probably it represents the solution of the problem of rising meat costs in this country, for it will enable the use of our lean prairie land for pasturing huge herds of the animals.
The idea of doing this has been in the minds of many men for almost a century. But until now most of the workers who have attacked the problem have met with defeat. The difference in physical makeup of the two species made success seem impossible. Calves from such a union were rarely born alive, and the men who tried to develop the new cross gave up when they met this obstacle. But Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Can, persisted, and by careful selection of parents he finally succeeded in raising 30 hybrids from pure-bred parents of the two different species. He bred these hybrids to pure-bred animals of each species, and he is now well along with his work of developing the established strain.
At the same time that Boyd was carrying on his experiments in Canada Charles Goodnight of Goodnight, Tex, was breeding polled Angus cattle in the same way, and has developed a strain much like that produced in the North. Other experimenters have achieved some little success, and occasionally meat from this source has found its way into the packing houses; but these two men have gone farthest, and so may be said to be the real discoverers of the new animal.
The results in the three different stages of breeding in both herds show great uniformity and stability. The hybrids–that is the animals from the original cross–looked as much alike as a herd of Jerseys. Those from the Hereford cows had white faces, but no other white; the polled Angus stock was almost as black as the dams themselves. All these animals were larger than the bison and they had bigger chests and better hindquarters. The next step, the breeding of these hybrids to both bison and cattle, produced two different types, each following closely the sire.
These were the three-quarter buffaloes. From these the one-eighth hybrids were developed, and none having less than that proportion of blood from the bison was bred. The three-quarter buffaloes looked like the animal of the plains; the one-eighth like domestic cattle. In the last stage the animal does not much resemble the bison, but it has the desired characteristics. After this third stage, the problem becomes one of selecting the best animals, preserving the buffalo and cattle points, and choosing the animals which produce calves true to parents, for breeding purposes. This work is now going on.
Boyd has been producing the best meat animal and Goodnight has been working with his animals in tick-infested territory, to develop immunity to various diseases, and to develop a range animal which needs less care and pays better than ordinary stock. Besides the hardiness and the increase in the proportion of meat to weight, the cattalo has furnished desirable characteristics.
The hump of the buffalo is not a mass of fat. It is formed by neural spines and by the huge muscles which fill the angle between these spines and the ribs. This is the upper cut in a rib roast of beef, and Boyd reports that some of those which he has had on his table have been nine inches deep.
The meat is of clear fiber. The average animal cuts 150 pounds more than a beef animal. In addition to the improved meat qualities, cattaloes have advantages in the live state. Less food, salt and water are required by them than by cattle. When a weakened cow on the range in the Winter time lies with its back down hill, it cannot rise, and starves to death; the cattalo gets up on his forefeet first just the opposite to the cow–and so is always able to rise. A herd of hybrids never drifts before a blizzard. Unlike the buffalo, the cattalo is docile.
All told, the cattalo is a worthy addition to the American pasture. The great buffalo ranges are gone, turned into grim fields; but there are still areas, which will barely support cattle, but will return a profit in the hybrid; and they form the place for the cattalo.– Technical World Magazine.
CATTALO MAY SOLVE OUR MEAT QUESTION. Calgary Herald, 4th February 1916
The Boyd Herd Will be Brought West to Wainwright's Big Park
Alberta people, as inhabitants of the great grazing grounds of the buffalo of the old days and having still within her borders the largest number of buffalo of any portion of the continent, will read with interest the following story taken from the Saskatoon Saturday Press:
If old cattlemen are to be believed, the most valuable herd of cattle in the world is now at the Experimental farm at Scott, Saskatchewan. This is the herd of Cattalo, the cross between the American buffalo or bison and the domestic cow, which ranchers, and breeders in the west have been trying for over a hundred years to secure. It was Mossom Boyd, of Bobcaygeon, Ont.. who finally solved what seemed to be insuperable difficulties in getting the breed started. Charles Goodnight, a famous Texan rancher, has a small herd of Cattalo, but has not got to the stage reached by the Ontario breeder, About a year ago Mr. Boyd died, and his heirs disposed of the entire herd to the Dominion government at a merely nominal sum, and the pick of the herd, numbering twenty head in all, have been sent to the Scott Experimental farm for the winter. Next year, in all probability, the herd will be sent to Wainwright, where part of the big Buffalo park will be set aside for them, and the slow work of building up a new meat breed of cattle can be carried on under the supervision of experts, and under the best possible conditions for control und observation.
Although the breed has _ been started, it will be many generations yet before it can be securely fixed, and it will probably be fifty to a hundred years before the breed can become of great commercial importance, On the other hand, when the Cattalo breed is finally fixed, a new breed secured larger than the domestic breeds, as hardy as the buf‘falo, but as docile as the common cow, able to live and thrive where domestic cows would starve, and the carcasses giving more of the expensive cuts than even the choicest Polled Angus steers do today, with roasts eleven inches to a foot thick, as tender and juicy as the buffalo hump.
In addition, instead of the ordinary cowhide selling for a few cents a pound, each animal will be covered with a fine buffalo robe, with the hair not quite as long as in the regular buffalo robe, but in practically all other respects fully us good.
The first cross between the buffalo and common cow is extremely large. One of these hybrids at the Scott farm weighs over a ton, another about sixteen hundred. The herd of twenty are wintered on the pasture which is part of the farm and are fed one oat sheaf a day, in addition to what they pick up, and they thrive on this, and come rushing up from the ravine, where they spend the night, at the true buffalo trot.
They have inherited many of the buffalo characteristics, without the savage, untamable spirit which makes it impossible by any method of cruelty or kindness, to tame the bison of the plains. In a blizzard the Cattalo faces the wind, instead of turning tail like domestic cattle. In getting up the Cattalo gets up Uke a buffalo, hindquarters first, so that they can get their feet in almost any depth of snow. The skin is as thick as the buffalo hide, affording double protection in cold weather and enabling the Cattalo to stand any degree of cold without suffering hardships, and the close, thick covering of hair is an added protection.
Mr. Milton J. Tinline, manager of the Experimental farm at Scott, is very much interested in the Cattalo herd, and says it is quite a sight to see them trotting along the old buffalo trails on the Scott farm. He says he has no information about how long the herd will stay at Scott. He finds the Cattalo a strong drawing card to the farmers in the district, as there are people at the farm every day to see the new breed. Mr. Tinline says that it is too early yet to do much prophesying about the Cattalo breed, but believes that if the right type is finally established, which seems already in a fair way of being accomplished, it may mean as much for the western stock raisers as the discovery of Red Fife and Marquis Wheat did for the western wheat growers.
CREATING NEW FARM ANIMALS. The Sunday Province, Vancouver, British Columbia, 5th October 1930
By John Francis Ariza
Probably any boys, big or little, anywhere in the whole dominion, would trade places for a while with Jimmie and Freddie Wilson, who live on the Cattalo Farm, in the heart of Canada’s great buffalo park at Wainwright, Alberta. In a single day there are no other children on the entire North American continent that see as many large and small native animals as these brothers. . . Freddie Wilson is 8 and Jimmie 4. They are the sons of James Wilson, senior, in charge of the hybridization farm, who supervises the cross-breeding of buffalo with domestic cattle and yak . . . There is never a day that life isn’t packed full of interesting things for the Wilson boys. But the bringing in of buffalo calves is always a red-letter day for Freddie and Jimmie. In order to cross buffalo with domestic cattle, the animals must be raised together from baby-hood.
Where there are always around 5,000 or more buffalo at the 200-square mile preserve, it is never much of a problem for James Wilson, senior, to find a new-born buffalo calf. So, when one of his Hereford or Aberdeen-Angus cows gives birth to a heifer calf, Mr. Wilson, who formerly was a cowboy and broke hundreds of horses and mules for service during the Boer war, mounts his horse and rides out over the range to find a male baby buffalo. Instead of looking among the great herds on the treeless open spaces, he heads for the thick cottonwoods along the shores of the lakes and sloughs. It is to these quiet places the buffalo cows retire when their calves are born. Upon finding the little buffalo that suits him, Mr. Wilson throws his lariat over its neck, while other men drive away the angry mother. Then he ties the calf to his saddle and brings it to the Cattalo Farm to be raised with the calf of the Hereford or Aberdeen-Angus cow and mothered by her.
This is the most trying and discouraging task on the place. Cows hate buffalo as much as buffalo hate man. They may blindfold her as much as they will, but as soon as the buffalo calf is brought to her stall the cow starts kicking. It is not a single kick with one foot, such as nervous cows give when flies annoy them or when they wish to register their dislike for the new hired man. There is a succession of wild kicks with both feet and furious lunges of her body. Her keen sense of smell quickly appraises her of the presence of the young buffalo. At every feeding, therefore, it is necessary to tie the cow’s legs and body or else the little buffalo will go hungry. Sometimes it takes 3 month or longer to reconcile the cow to the little stranger. Even after they have quit tying her legs, the cow occasionally starts kicking. Except for his short, burly head, covered with close, curly hair, the little buffalo, minus a hump for several months after birth, looks considerably like any ordinary yellow calf. But the burly head is the hallmark of the buffalo.
“Even an hour-old buffalo calf will register his dislike for human beings,” says Mr. Wilson. “He will charge and butt my knees with all the fury of an old buffalo bull. But, after it has associated with the domestic calf and foster mother for a few days, it becomes tame and even begins to show a little affection for humans.” Generally, within three or four weeks after the baby buffalo has been brought in from the range, at meal time he can be seen feeding on one side of the contented-looking cow and her own calf on the other. This early association causes the strange future mates to become greatly attached to each other.
Only fifty per cent. of the heifer calves of the buffalo-domestic cattle cross survive. And, since hybridization experiments began at Wainwright more than a dozen years ago, not one male calf has lived over 24 hours. With the birth of a male calf, the mother’s life, likewise is sacrificed. When Nature created the superb buffalo and the magnificent domestic breed of cattle, she surrounded her handiwork with almost insuperable safeguards.
The hybrids become enormous creatures, at maturity nearly always weighing more than either parent. The calf of one of these first crosses weighed 600 pounds when it was four months old. After the hybrids have been crossed with buffalo several times, the product is called a cattalo.
The cattalo retains some of the buffalo’s fine qualities. It also possesses the gentle characteristics of its domestic ancestors. Like the buffalo, it has a fine hide, can stand tremendous cold–sometimes Wainwright sees temperatures of 58 below zero–is rugged and disease-resistive. Furnishing shelters for cattalo would be as unnecessary as providing steam-heated kennels for wild foxes. They can forage for themselves if there is sufficient range feed, and paw away the snow and keep fat and sleek just like the buffalo on pasturage that domestic cattle would almost starve upon. When a blizzard comes roaring across the Alberta prairies, the denizens of Buffalo Park are in fine fettle. What is a blizzard–or 100 degrees in the shade, for that matter–to a coat impervious to cold or heat?
Only when range feed is short is it necessary for park employees to spread hay for the animals there. It is hauled on bobsleds and scattered broadcast along driveways. Hundreds of tons of rich, succulent slough hay is cut at the park every summer. It retains its nutritious qualities and is the kind buffalo have thrived upon for ages. Considerable grain is raised at the park, also, the surplus going to ether Canadian parts.
The flesh of cattalo is delicious–as good as the best domestic beef.
The Wilson boys have other interesting playmates at the cattalo farm. Baby yaks are more playful and friendlier than buffaloes. Long domesticated in their home in mountainous Tibet, Central Asia, the yaks have little of the buffalo’s wild nature about them. They are the only animals at Wainwright that are not natives of Canada. Yak are rich dark brown in color, the full grown ones having tails like horses, but much longer. Their horns are long and wide, and the yaks’ humps are not as big as buffalos’ nor are the animals as large. The shagginess is mostly underneath their bodies and necks, and their muzzles are always as delicately yellow as those of Jersey cows.
[. . .] Yak are not as swift runners as ungainly buffalo, nor are their feet as well formed as his. Sometimes at Wainwright a yak's forefeet grow so long they turn up and resemble miniature sleigh runners. This may be due to the feed they eat and to the change from the high altitude of cold, cloudy Tibet to the rolling plains of perpetually sunny Alberta. Yak are not as vigorous animals as the America bison, or buffalo. Injuries that often kill a yak, incapacitate a buffalo for only a short time, says A. G. Smith, the park superintendent. It is noticeable that long association with the admirable buffalo engenders a feeling of great regard for him. Everyone at Wainwright speaks in terms of highest praise for him, and, consciously or not, seem to judge other beasts from the standards of excellence he possesses.
The first. yak-domestic cattle crosses are always peevish and bad tempered for some reason. After a few crossings their horse-like tails disappear and their habit of grunting also. But the yellow yak muzzle remains after a dozen generations . . . And the white face of the Hereford never can be eliminated from any of the offspring, no matter how far removed. At home in Tibet the yak is often called the grunting ox. There is a complaining, fretful quality about it unlike the grunting of the buffalo, the latter resembling the grunt of a hog. However, with the admixture of domestic cattle blood the yak grunt gives way to the baritone or tenor bawling of the cow.
At Wainwright the buffalo-yak crossings are quite successful. Although no one there has suggested it, cattlemen in western Canada and in the United States who have watched the hybridization experiments with great Interest have expressed the hope that perhaps the yak is the “massing link” between the domestic cow and the powerful buffalo. If a cross possessing the good characteristics of the bison, the yak and the domestic cow could be evolved out there near the foothills of the Rockies, Canada and the world generally would be immensely benefited.
INTERESTING EXPERIMENTS IN BREEDING HYBRIDS UNDER WAY AT BUFFALO PARK, WAINWRIGHT. The Sunday Province, Vancouver, 5th October 1930.
“Cattalo” Steaks Will Likely Be on Market Soon. Animals Feed Out in Open Throughout Winter. Expected to Thrive on Ranges in Far North.
Top – a hybrid, the product of a cross of a Shorthorn cow with a Yak bull. The Yak is the wild (and domesticated) ox of the Tibetan plains in Central Asia, a species nearly allied to the bison group. Specimens of the animal were imported to Canada. Note the hindquarters and bushy tail. The Yak is famous for the long, shaggy hair on its flanks and on the under side of its body, as well us for its bushy tail. The calf at foot is by a Yak bull and retains the Shorthorn type in its face.
Below–The only animal of its kind in the world. A hybrid resulting from the crossing of a Yak bull and a buffalo cow.
“SEND up three pounds of tenderloin cattalo steak, and see that it is not too fat,” may be a regular telephone message received at local butcher shops in a few years’ time if some experiments in animal breeding now being carried out under the supervision of the Dominion Government prove the success hoped for.
During the past ten years or so, experiments have been carried out at Buffalo Park, Wainwright, Alta., in the crossing of the buffalo, the yak of Tibet, and domestic cattle, the object of these experiments has been to obtain, if possible, a hardy animal of good beef type which would thrive in the northern part of the prairie provinces and in the vast Canadian northwest territories, where there are huge ranges of wonderful grazing quality, but where domestic cattle-breeding does not, and probably never will, exist, owing to the need of winter shelters and large quantitles of stored winter feed.
Many years previous to the taking up of this work by the Dominion Government, experiments had been made in the crossing of buffalo and domestic cattle by several investigators, both in the United States and in Canada, though, in the main, with but indifferent success. One of the leading experimenters in Canada was the late Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon, Ont., who made greater progress than any other investigator up to his time, and it was his herd of hybrids and their progeny that the Dominion Government purchased on his death in 1915 as a foundation for the further study of this type of animal. The work is being carried on on a co-operative basis by the Experimental Farms branch of the Department of Agriculture and the Parks branch of the Department of the Interior.
In the earlier breeding experiments domestic cows (pure-bred or grade Hereford, Shorthorn or Aberdeen-Angus) were used as the foundation females and were bred to. pure-bred buffalo bulls. The result of this cross is a hybrid buffalo and the product of the crossing of two hybrids has been designated as cattalo, a term which is now in general use and has even found its way into the latest dictionaries,
Now, it should be borne in mind that it has never been the intention to replace domestic cattle with cattalo, or even use them where domestic cattle can thrive profitably, but, as already stated, it is proposed to stock the northern ranges with them. Their advantages over domestic cattle in such a country and value from a utilitarian viewpoint may be summarized in the following terms:
(1) The hide is very similar to that of a buffalo in quality, durability, thickness of hair and general warmth and in the fall shows a beautiful curl and lustre. With furs and skins at present prices, cattalo skins for robes or fur coats should easily be worth $100 each.
(2) Cattalo, like the buffalo, are particularly rugged. They will face storms and do not drift therewith as do domestic cattle, They are never lost on hillsides, as range cattle frequently are, and cattalo have also marked disease resistance.
(3) Cattalo are splendid grazers, and like the buffalo, thrive on comparatively poor pastures. In the winter they are good rustlers and graze through the snow. They do not require any winter shelter and have only been fed a little hay during the most severe weather and when the snow was very deep. In comparison with range cattle they come through the winter in much higher flesh.
Early experimenters met with several discouragements which caused many to discontinue the work. In the initial cross between the buffalo and domestic cow, a very high percentage of the calves were born dead, due to excessive domestic fluids (hydramnios), and this trouble at birth was frequently the cause of the loss of the cow as well, Another difficulty has been the lack of fertility of these hybrids, particularly the first-cross hybrids. The first-cross hybrid males (and they are few) apparently are rarely fertile, but the females are quite commonly normal in this respect.
The original herd, as purchased by the Dominion Government from the estate of Mossom Boyd, was made up of nineteen animals aa follows:
Four first-cross hybrid cows (80 per cent. buffalo), proved breeders,
Four second-cross hybrid cows (75 per cent. buffalo), proved breeders.
One second-cross hybrid cow (25 per cent. buffalo).
Seven cattalo cows and heifers (25 to 50 per cent. buffalo).
Three hybrid bulls (30 to 75 per cent. buffalo), one proved sire and one possibly fertile.
Little progress has, unfortunately, been made with this original herd, due to the infertility of males and increasing age in the females. Every effort has, however, been made toward increasing from this herd in the way of using all combinations of sires available. The first matings were along the following lines: 1, hybrid and cattalo cows with buffalo sires. This proved difficult as adult buffalo bulls refused to associate with cows of alien bloods. 2, hybrid and cattalo cows with domestic sires. Aberdeen-Angus and Hereford bulls were used. 3, domestic cows with hybrid buffalo sires, The cows were high-grade Shorthorn, Hereford and Aberdeen-Angus, but all the hybrid sires unfortunately proved infertile.
As the increase following these matings was very uncertain, it was decided to build up a herd of young hybrids, though to still continue breeding the original herd. And the founding of a herd of young hybrids has proved most successful, though attended with quite a few difficulties at the outset.
The first step was to secure bull buffalo calves from the range which in itself was not an easy task. The next and most difficult step was to put the buffalo calves on a domestic cow with her calf of the same age at foot. Time and patience, however, vanquished this difficulty, and in many cases the foster mother even showed a preference for the alien. Buffalo and domestic calves raised aide by side from calfhood later consort readily; in fact, the buffalo apparently prefers the company of his childhood friends even when he might return to his own kind,
Having successfully raised buffalo bull calves which consorted readily with cattle, arrangements were made for this mating. At the same time yak were available and their inclusion in the hybridizing programme was decided on. The yak (Poephagus grunnions), whose original habitat is the plateau of Central Asia, zoologically appears aa the missing link between the buffalo and cattle. The yak crosses readily and safely with domestic cattle; hence it is hoped in this experiment that the hybrid resulting from the yak-cattle cross will, in turn, cross readily and safely with the buffalo and thus assist in producing fertile males, overcoming the previously-mentioned difficulties, mortality and lack of fertility.
The yak is about the same size as the Aberdeen-Angus. It is distinguished by the mane-like fringe along the flank, its long hair at either side and especially the long-haired and horse-like tall. It is usually black in color, although sometimes white or brown. It will withstand extreme cold and rustle for its living through a long cold winter. At the same time the yak is domesticated and is not
subject to disease. The meat is almost identical with beef of domestic cattle, except that it is finer-grained.
The decision to include yak in the experiments made the following matings possible: 1, domestic cow with buffalo bull; 2, domestic cow with yak bull; 3, yak cow with domestic bull; 4, buffalo cow with yak bull. The results of these matings up to August 1 of last year was as follows:
Domestic cow with buffalo: Two yearling females; one heifer calf, 1924. This is reported as being apparently a violent cross and many disappointments have been met, due to losses of calves and cows from abnormalities prior to or at parturition.
Domestic cow with yak bull: Five yearling females; one yearling male: 1 heifer calf, 1924. This cross is made with apparent ease, and the period of pregnancy and time of parturition show little or no abnormality as compared with the previous cross.
Yak cow with domestic bull: One bull calf, 1924. The reverse cross to the latter, apparently made without difficulty, although evidence so far is limited to one calf.
Buffalo cow and yak bull: One yearling female. This is a rare and interesting cross. Speaking generally, results obtained so far would intimate some intermediary relationship on the part of the yak between the buffalo and the bovine race, a fact which should prove of singular use in later developments. The reverse cross would seem likely to offer difficulties, but will be tried later,
In summing up the results obtained to date, George B. Rothwell, Dominion animal husbandman, considers that interesting data has been secured from the original herd of hybrids and cattalo through (1), studies of breeding, (2), the relative meat-producing value of cattalo as compared with buffalo and domestic cattle; (3), relative palatability; (4), information afforded through repeated examination and treatment for sterility which gives promise of further increase from this original herd.
While considerable success has been met with, Mr. Rothwell points out that the really difficult work is yet to come, namely, the founding of a breed or strain that will breed true and include the desired characteristics of the new species. Plans are under way whereby fresh hybrids may be continually introduced and the supply even Increased. Thus, though the immediate results are of scientific value only, the objective, distant though it may be, is definitely practical.
During the present year the following new lines of work are being taken up:
Studies of the relative suitability of different breeds for hybridization work, including such breeds as the Highland cattle. Plans may include the musk ox as well.
The application of the blood test to all groups and individuals thereof. This already promises interesting information, valuable because of the actual data secured and guidance which may be afforded in further crosses attempted, both as regards the species and the individual within the breed or species.
BREEDING A NEW ANIMAL. The Sphere, 5th March 5, 1932, pg 338.
Bos Grunniens, the wild (and domesticated) ox of the plateaus of Tibet, has just about grunted himself out of the hybridization picture in Canada. For a time he was looked upon as a sort of saviour of the day; the zoological intermediary between domestic cattle and the native bison, between which animals certain inter-breeding experiments were and are being carried on at Wainwright Buffalo Park, in Alberta, Canada. Behind these experiments is an attempt to combine some of the hardihood of the bison with the beef-producing qualities of domestic cattle, in order that the cattle-raising map of Canada may be rolled still farther back toward the north. Bos Grunniens, known also as the Yak, and the Grunting Ox, came into the picture for a few years, but he is rapidly fading out. Some of his blood remains in the animals with which the experiments are being carried on, but the crosses are becoming more and more bison and domestic cattle, and many interesting developments are taking place.
While in the picture, however, Bos Grunniens shared responsibility for the most curious animal in existence: a calf 50 per cent. domestic cattle, 25 per cent. bison, and 25 per cent. yak and which, therefore, might qualify for the name "catta-yak-alo.”
The work of the animal husbandman deals largely with practical problems. Rarely has he the opportunity of venturing upon the uncharted seas of “new varieties.” Yet hybridization experiments conducted by officials of the Canadian Government at Wainwright have permitted some hitherto untried crosses, and have probably contributed more to the knowledge of hybridizing possibilities than anything which had previously been attempted. They have produced hybrids and what might be called tri-brids, and crosses again from hybrids with original stock on either side. And all in the attempt to produce “The Arctic Cow,” a hardy race of cattle which would inherit the bison's characteristic of heading into the blizzard rather than drifting before it, and of foraging for winter feed through the heavy snowfall of the Far North.
Had these animals been possible of development with the meat- and milk-producing qualities of domestic cattle; the hardiness of the bison, and the woolly undercoat and long outer coat of the yak, who knows what products might have come from the cattle-breeding industry of the far northern areas of the Dominion.
In 1916, twenty of the Mossom Boyd animals "cattalo," crosses between buffalo and cattle, were purchased, and, to overcome the problem of sterility in hybrid males, it was thought the introduction of the yak, zoologically somewhere intermediate between bison and domestic cattle, might lead to the desired end. Bos Grunniens was obliging. When brought into the picture, he mated with either bison or domestic cow, and hybrids, three-quarter breds and extractions representing the blood of all three were secured and proved quite healthy. However, while the fertility of hybrid, yak-bison, or yak-domestic females has been proven to be quite normal, the fertility of the male hybrids appears to be as much a matter of doubt as ever.
And that, while there remain a number of yak-bison and yak-domestic offspring in the experiments, just about dispose of Bos Grunniens, who now can return to grunt his way in the shafts of an ox-cart over the high passes of the Himalayas or elsewhere. One angle of the eternal triangle is disposed of and King Bison reigns supreme over the harem at Wainwright.
The cross-breeding experiments have been interesting, and the attempt to increase the hardiness of cattle strains has not been without its reward. One thing which has helped the animal husbandmen in their work has been the proximity at Wainwright of the world's largest herd of wild bison owned by the Canadian Government, from which animals could be secured for experiments as desired. The experiments have taken place within enclosures set aside in the National Buffalo Park under the eye of Superintendent A. G. Smith, but not for a long time will herds of cattalo–the bison-domestic hybrid–paw the snow of the northern plains.
NEW CATTLE SPECIES SOON READY FOR FRONTIER FARMS. Star Phoenix, 18th July 1934.
Experiments carried out in Wainwright Park, Alberta, “where the buffalo roam,” have been successful in producing the domestic animal shown above. It is called a cattalo, and is a cross-breed of cattle and buffalo, through the medium of the imported yak. The new animal is designed for use in climates where a hardy species of cattle is required to stand the rigors of a long Winter.
Thirty strange animals roam on the pasture near Wainwright, Alberta. Neither domestic cattle nor buffalo, the new cattle are a mixture of these two animal species. Their name combines that of the original types. The cattalo has been developed after many years of experimenting by the scientists of the Canadian Government.
The cattalo, which resembles both the buffalo and cattle ancestors, was developed to provide a sturdy type of cattle for farmers opening up the northern agricultural districts of the Canadian West. Ordinary cattle could not stand the cold, nor find their own forage in Winter. Buffalo, on the other hand, can live even in the Northwest Territories and forage in Winter. The cross-breeding of the two species was started a few years ago. Difficulties were encountered, and it was necessary to find an intermediary animal, as the resultant animal from buffalo and cattle often died at birth. In distant Siberia was located the yak. Cross-breeding between domestic cattle and yak, and the hybrid from this union with the buffalo has been successful, and today the cattalo is thriving on the western plains.
The cattalo has a hide which is similar to the buffalo, heavy, thick hair and durable, making a warm cover. Those who have had a chance to try cattalo meat say that it has all the qualities of beef cattle. The cattalo carries a great percentage of flesh on its back, just as the buffalo does.
When enough of the animals have been produced at the experimental station near Wainwright. the new type of cattle will be sent to various farms in the northern fringes of the Western Provinces where the cattalo will play the same role on these northern farms that cattle play on all the farms of the Continent, supplying milk and meat.
1900s – COLONEL JONES' CATTALO (KANSAS, USA)
HALF-BRED BUFFALOES AND THEIR VALUE. (The Field, 26th March 1904)
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, and 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.
1900s – COLONEL GOODNIGHT’S CATTALO (TEXAS, USA)
CROSS BETWEEN THE COW AND BUFFALO. The Goodland News, 5th December 1901.
“Buffalo” Jones, who is interested in a scheme to produce an animal in the beef line which shall be to the cow what the mule is to the horse, has returned from the Goodnight buffalo ranch in Texas, says the Topeka Capital, bringing with him a number of photos of animals which are a cross between the cow and the buffalo. The new creature is called the “cattalo.”’ J. F. Strickrott, the view photographer, accompanied Mr. Jones and made the pictures which are to be used in presenting the matter to congress. Mr. Jones and Mr. Goodnight are endeavoring to obtain financial assistance from congress in perfecting the new hybrid. It is claimed that the “robes” obtained from it are superior to both the old buffalo robe and the hide of cow. The experimenters are producing animals of one-fourth, one-half and three-quarters blood in an endeavor to ascertain which will be the best for commercial purposes. Mr. Jones expects to go on to Washington soon to look after the scheme he is promoting.
THE GOODNIGHT RANCH AND BUFFALO. The Fort Worth Telegram, 2nd August 1907, pg 8.
Under the heading of the “Passing of the Buffalo,” an article has been going the rounds of the current publications to the effect that the last of the buffalo have been shipped out of Texas – that Colonel Goodnight has recently sold the last of a small (?) herd that he has for several years kept on the famous Goodnight ranch – to the British government and they have been [. . .] shipped to Canada. The same alleged news item refers adversely to Mr. Goodnight’s efforts to cross breed the buffalo with domestic cattle, pronouncing his efforts a failure. This statement is in the same category with the rest of this unwarranted libel.
A fixed type of quarter-buffalo and three-quarters domestic bloods has already been established here so that it can be perpetuated by proven fertility on both sides. While there is young stock coming on that will no doubt enable this breeder to fix a type of half-bloods with fertility on both sides, there is also a certainty that the quarter-blood sires successfully mate with three-quarter, seven-eights and full-blood buffalo cows with whom they have been reared and it is simply a question of their maturity to demonstrate their further fertility. For over fifty years it has been known on the frontier that the male buffalo raised with domestic cattle would successfully cross with such cattle I the production of female offspring, but that when the resultant calf was a male that either the mother cow or calf would die, but that by breeding the pure buffalo to the half-blood the birth of a three-quarter buffalo blood male could be produced and that such an animal would be non-fertile.
While the female line could be bred on indefinitely until the domestic blood retained would be almost eliminated, however, to continue this character of breeding the blood of the pure-bred buffalo could be extended along these lines only by having the buffalo in his native purity to draw on. Many of the practical breeders have been of the opinion that if it were possible to produce a half-blood male that there was a probability that such an animal might be carried on for ages in the blood of domestic cattle so that the original type of the buffalo could be produced at the will of the breeder. Acting along that line of thought many prominent cattle breeders thought they could take the male calf from the cow by cesarian-section. Out of fourteen experiments where buffalo bull calves were sired only two were partially successful, that of Governor John Sparks of Nevada and W.S. Vanata of Fowler, Ind. In the former case the calf was taken from the cow alive but died immediately and in the case of the latter the calf lived for several hours.
While these heroic experiments were in vain, Colonel Goodnight conceived the idea of approaching the problem another way and bred pure Angus bulls on half-blood buffalo-and-Angs cows wit the result of the production of unusually prepotent sires which are now in use on the “Cattalo” cows of the quarter, half, three-quarter, seven-eights and full-blood buffalo heifers above alluded to; the product of which now comes without the fatality which attended breeding the other way. Thus Mr. Goodnight’s efforts in the interest of scientific breeding has overcome what by some was regarded as natural barriers for the successful cross breeding of the buffalo of the buffalo and domestic cattle, producing what he pleases to call the “Cattalo” and should the male offspring of these quarter-buffalo sires bred to a seven-eighths heifer (the offspring of which would be a nine-sixteenths) prove fertile, and there is every probability that they will, then without further experiment it will be practically demonstrated that the buffalo Americanus can be carried forever in the blood of domestic cattle and reproduced at the will of the breeder.
Altho the facts of this complicated work are as I have crudely presented them above, it was not Mr. Goodnight’s desire that anything authoritative concerning his efforts should be given out as scientific fact until his present generation of “Cattalo” arrived at maturity and put the question of their successful perpetuation beyond the possibility of a cavil on the part of closet learned sceptics. There is now a bout 150 head of variously graded and bred “Cattalo” on the Goodnight ranch and there is no doubt about the perpetuation of the full bred herd in its purity nor is there in my mind any doubt but that the “Cattalo” in the near future will furnish cross-bred sires from which the buffalo can be bred back to his exact form in a few generations.
KILLING TEST FOR CATTLE. The Galveston Daily News, 24th December 1910.
Fort Worth, Tex. In a car that came in over the Denver Railway there were some Persian sheep and three cattalo from the Goodnight ranch consigned to Armour & Company to be slaughtered; more particularly for a killing test of the cattalo, or the cross between the buffalo and the Angus cattle. This will be the first feat of the kind in the United States. Colonel Goodnight has always contended as a reason for the preservation of the buffalo that it added a valuable quality to the beef steers and a quality that was derivable from no other source known to cattle men. It is his idea that the cross with the buffalo results in an animal with a higher percentage of dressed meat than can be realised from any known breed of cattle. This will be, or is intended to be, a practical test of that claim.
BREED CATTALOES AS NEW CROSS. The Daily Review, 9th January 1911.
The three specimens of cattaloes, or cross between buffaloes and cattle, which Colonel C. Goodnight shipped to the Fort Worth market, revealed some interest figures wen the dressing per cents were compared. The three cattaloes dressed as follows: Three-quarter buffalo cow, 64.08; half-buffalo cow, 60.55; one-sixteenth buffalo bull, 57.34. Tallow, 4.47, 4.84 and 3.44, respectively.
“It is my firm belief,” stated Colonel Goodnight, on bringing these animals for a test, “that the breeding of the catalo will revolutionize the cattle industry in this country, in so far as raising cattle is concerned. It is a fact that the cross between a buffalo and cow makes a good market animal and it dresses out a big percentage. Some months ago a cross-breed steer was shipped with some cattle to Kansas City and that animal killed out 67 per cent. The animals that I have here are old and grass fattened, but I am confident that they will kill out an excellent percentage. The cattalo is superior to cattle in several ways. In the first place they live to a very old age and are easily kept. They will live where cattle starve. The meat of the cattalo is nutritious and tender. In fact, I think the cattalo outstrips the cattle for market purposes in every instance.”
TEXAS PRODUCTS ARE SERVED AT BANQUET. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12th January 1911.
What is said to have been the largest private banquet ever held in the Southwest was that given Wednesday night at the Southland Hotel ty Col. Frank P. Holland of Farm and Ranch and Holland’s Magazine in honor of the Dallas and Fort Worth advertising leagues. Special guests at the gathering ware Col. Charles Goodnight, the famous buffalo breeder of Goodnight, Texas, Dr. C.P. Young of C. P. Diaz. Mexico, and former Governor Charles N. Haskell of OKlahoma.
The menu was made up of “Something new to eat” and a few other products of Texas farms and ranches and was of Texas products from beginning to end. Among the new things to eat were barbecued cattalo meat, roast karakule . . . At the formal introduction given these new table products their originators at the call of Colonel Holland gave interesting accounts of the work that has brought them about.
Colonel Goodnight told of his early settling in Texas and his determination to preserve the buffalo from extermination. He then told of his theory that the buffalo and cow might be crossed to produce a new and better meat supply for the country, at the same time providing an animal best adapted to the range conditions. The first successful crossing he said cost $272. He then traced the further efforts and concluded with a brief reference to the recent killing tests in Fort Worth when the cattalo established a new record for meat production. Though reported to be from a 21-year-old cattalo cow, the meat served at the banquet was highly praised.
[. . . ] The banquet was attended by 307 guests comprising prominent breeders, writers, publishers, agriculturists and officials and business men.
BUFFALO HERD WORTH MILLION. El Paso Morning Times, 9th March 1911, pg 5.
How many people know that a buffalo has fourteen ribs on each aide, while ordinary cattle have only thirteen and that this important distinguishing mark of the buffalo is retained by the mixed breed which is known by the name of cattalo? Even the average present-day plainsman does not know that buffaIn always lie down with back uphill. The ranchmen of the west and south-west, who have lost perhaps thousands of poor cattle by them lying down with their back downhill and dying in that position because they were too weak to rice, will appreciate the value of this trait of the buffalo. . . . Colonel Goodnight has devoted more than thirty years to propagating the buffalo and crossing it with polled Angus cattle. He has long been noted as the greatest breeder of buffalo and cataloes in the world. He has reached that time in life when he wants to take a rest. It was this desire that prompted the organization of a strong financial company to take over his valuable holdings. Associated with him in the work are younger men who are enthusiastic over the possibilities of making the buffalo, the catalo, the Persian and Karakule sheep, the elk and the antelope of great commercial value to this country. [He captured first buffalo calves in 1878 and has] the only cattalo herd in the world. By breeding them with the famous polled Angus cattle that were Imported from Scotland, If have them from one-sixteenth buffalo on up to the half-breed or cattaloes, I have been able to produce in the mixed breed the extra ribs of the buffalo, which is fourteen on each side, while the ordinary cattle have only thirteen ribs on each side.
“The cattalo make a larger and hardier cattle and will cut a greater percent of net meat than any other cattle. They require less food and are a longer-lived cattle.”
The advantages which the cattalo have over ordinary cattle, according to the assertion of Colonel Goodnight, are that the former do not tramp or muss up their feed or water; they require less food and water and less salt; live on what common cattle refuse; can live longer without food and water, with less loss; have the wild Instinct against over-feeding; weigh more to the bulk; have better shoulders than any cattle known, giving more of the valuable forequarter meat, and cut mere net-meat than any other cattle under the same conditions.
The oleo, or fat, in catalo, differs from that in other cattle. having better flavor, being healthier for the human stomach than ordinary fats, and serving excellently as a cooking fat. Their meat excels that of the polled Angus, which tops the London market. Its meat is superior in grain an flavor to beef and a little darker in colour, with the fat better marbleized.
Cattalo rightly handled are extremely gentle, inclined neither to fight nor to run. as do their ancestors. They share the buffalo's heritage of more brains and memory than common cattle, according to Colonel Goodnight’s judgment and observation. Cattalo of more than one quarter buffalo blood have been found, under test, absolutely immune “black leg” and the disease has been able to take hold of the one-quarter strain very rarely. Cattalo have the wild characteristics of lying #0 they can rise quickly, and easily, and of rolling clear over. This counts for much on the range.
QUEER STOCK SHOWN AT THE STOCK YARDS. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10th March 1911.
A queer collection of scientific animals were gathered at the Fort Worth stock yards Friday morning when cattalo, sacred India bulls, and Karakule sheep were right into the yards. The cattalo bulls and the sacred Indian bulls are to be kept here until after the Fat Stock Show. The cattalo bulls will then go to South Texas to be bred with sacred cattle and the sacred bulls will be taken to the Goodnight ranch to be crossed with cattalo there.
CATTALO BULLS. The Galveston Daily News, 17th March 1911.
From Goodnight’s Ranch at A. and M. College for Inoculation. College Station, Tex. Two Cattalo bulls from the Goodnight buffalo ranch in the Panhandle of Texas are at the veterinary hospital for inoculation against Texas fever. For twenty-three years Dr. Mark Francis, professor of veterinary science and surgery at the A. and M. College of Texas, has been working in a war on Texas fever in cattle. The two specimens brought to the college are bulls, being a cross breed of Angus and buffalo. They were brought by Al McFadden of Victoria and are to be taken to his ranch in Victoria County. They are here for inoculation, and will spend the period necessary to become immune from the fever.
OFFERS BIG RANCH TO STATE. Austin American Statesman, 5th February 1915
It Is Suggested as Experiment Farm for Stock Breeding.
Interested to a large degree in the “back to the farm” idea for the young men of the country . . . Dr. Mary J. Hel of Long Beach, Cal., is in the city particularly to present to the Governor and Legislature a plan favoring the purchasing by the State of the Goodnight Buffalo Ranch at and about Goodnight, Texas. Dr. Helm’s idea is to have the State purchase the ranch and make it a breeding station for fine stock and to stress and perpetuate the experiment that Mr. Goodnight had begun in the breeding of “cattalo,” a cross between the buffalo and Texas cattle. On the Goodnight ranch there are 150 full blooded buffalo and some thirty “cattalo,” which Mr. Goodnight has bred. Besides the “cattalo,” which are half-bloods, there are a number of animals possessing varying degrees of buffalo and cattle bl are said to have the buffalo habits and make better meat animals as well as hardier stock than the cattle.
Dr. Helm conferred with the governing board of the Agricultural and Mechanical College last Friday in the interests of the same matter. Her plan is to have a breeding station for all kinds of fine stock as well as the “cattalo.” Mr. Goodnight has offered to sell his ranch to the State for $150,000, Dr. Helm said. It is valued at $300,000.
CATTLEMAN SAYS TO BUY CATTALO. El Paso Herald, 2nd March 1915
TEXAS OFFERED GOODNIGHT RANCH AND BUFFALO HERD. The Davenport Democrat and Leader, 29th March 195.
Urges Texas to Purchase the Famous Goodnight Ranch Herds; Meat Is Fine.
Texas now has a chance of taking over the 100,000 acre farm of Charles Goodnight, near Amarillo, together with 150 head of purebred buffaloes, 150 head of “cattalo” and other stock with which Mr. Goodnight has been carrying on experiments for the past 15 years, according to W. S. Roberts, a member of the Amarillo delegation who is here for the convention.
“Mr. Goodnight has offered his big ranch to the state and I, together with all other stockmen who have followed Mr. Goodnight’s experiments, believe that it would be a wise move to accept,” declared Mr. Roberts at the Paso del Norte, “Mr. Goodnight has now developed the “cattalo’’–a cross breed of the buffalo bull and black Poland cow – to a point where the new animal may have a serious effect upon the stock business of the southwest.
“Mr. Goodnight tried experiments with various breeds of cattle but the best results have been with the black Poland cows. The result is a fine, large animal weighing about 1600 pounds, muleys, with long, black silky hair. The hair is longer and more evenly distributed than it is on the buffalo. The ‘“cattalo” has the usual buffalo hump.
“Several of the Amarillo markets have sold some of the meat, Mr. Goodnight being anxious to get the opinion of the public on it. I tried it and found it excellent. The meat much resembles buffalo meat, has a slight ‘game’ flavor but is very palatable. The state now has a chance to take over this big estate. Mr. Goodnight is getting to be an old man and wants to be relieved of his responsibility. His experiments have proved of great value and were the state to take it over as a state park and carry on these experiments, I believe that great value would be obtained.”
THE LARGEST BUFFALO HERD IN CAPTIVITY. (EXCERPTS). By W. D. Hornaday, Illustrated Magazine, September 5, 1920, pg 9
Cross Breeding the Buffalo as Difficult Problem,
In 1885 Capt. Goodnight decided to ex¬periment with his stock by cross-breed¬ing. To this end he selected the Polled Angus stock of cattle, owing to their hardy qualities, for the first cross. The crossing is effected in the following manner: A male buffalo calf is taken from the mother while quite young and given to a cow to raise. At weaning time it is grazed with the domestic cattle and when grown will cross with any cow. The first calves are always heifers. The males all die, and in many cases the cow as well. Only a small per cent of the calves survive. After the first cross, how¬ever, it is comparatively easy to make further crosses. By such cross-breeding, Capt. Goodnight now has twenty-two cattaloes of one-half and three-quarter stock, and 100 of one-eighth and one-sixteenth stock. In appearance the cattalo is slightly lighter in color than the buffalo; the hump and prominence of the forequarters not so characteristic. They have a fiercer look, perhaps, but are not dangerous in the least.
In commenting upon the advantages of cattaloes over common cattle, Capt. Good¬night said that the cattalo in the first place is almost entirely free from the diseases common to cattle, this trait being inherited from the buffalo. Again, the cattalo is easily adapted to climate, exposure and con¬ditions. They can resist hunger and thirst better than cattle, will dress 70 per cent or more net, which is higher than cattle, fatten easily, and when killed the meat will not toughen as will beef when packed. They likewise have the fourteen ribs of the buf¬falo, increasing their weight about 100 pounds or more. More can be grazed on the same number of acres than cattle, thus economizing grass and acreage. There are other interesting features about the buffalo which they have in common with the cattaloes. in place of drifting with storms and blizzards, they face them; they do not run from heel flies, and when getting up they always rise on their forefeet, never on their hind, as they can thus get up better when weak or poor. Cattle lie down with their backs downhill, but cattaloes and buffaloes never. This enables them to spring up more quickly and easily.
CATTALO HIDE GIVEN TO CANYON MUSEUM. Pampa Daily News, 20th October 1931.
A cattalo hide, from the old Goodnight ranch is one of the prize possessions of the Panhandle-Plains Historical society. The hair on the skin is coal black, shiny, and coarse. The skin would make a wonderful robe of rug. The cattalo is a cross between the buffalo and cattle. Colonel Charles Goodnight was the pioneer in making experiments with these animals and one of the few breeders who succeeded in producing the cross. The cattalo whose hide now rests in the museum was a five year old steer, born of a quarter breed cattalo cow and three-quarter bull. When this animal was born Colonel Goodnight jokingly named him “Jim Ferguson” by which name he was always known. The museum also owns buffalo hides so that visitors may compare the texture of them and the cattalo hide.
1920s – DR. NIEMANN’S CATTALO (OKLAHOMA, USA)
BULL IS BUFFALO BUT HE DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT IT. The Ponca City News, 29th September 1921.
On “Riverby” farm, just south of this city where cattalo, Karakule sheep and horses bred for the army are featured, is a buffalo bull that does not know that he is a buffalo, has never had an opportunity to find out that he is an alien from his race, and the bet is that he never will learn that he was kidnapped when two days old in behalf of science. Riverby farm is the property of Dr. George H. Niemann of Ponca City, the man responsible for carrying out an idea suggested many years ago by Colonel Goodnight, who made the Goodnight ranch in western Texas famous as being the first to possess a herd of domesticated buffalo.
A buffalo bull is no good for breeding purposes outside his race. He is one animal that will not wander from his own immediate family of his own volition, and for that reason it has been a difficult matter to cross the buffalo with common cattle. Colonel Goodnight advanced the theory that this could be overcome by raising up a buffalo bull away from his tribe, and it was this theory that Dr. Niemann has successfully demonstrated on his farm. This particular buffalo bull has never had any associate excepting common cattle. He was taken from his mother when he was but two days old and given over to a Jersey cow to raise. She did the cow admirably and' he has grown into as fine a specimen of buffalo as there is now in existence. Naturally, too, he is far more docile than other male members of his race and his offspring, known as cattalo, are numerous on Riverby farm. All are out of purebred cows, and the result is that the bull is a happy, contented and amiable father because he does not know that he is any different race than the cows and calves with which he has always associated.
There was a battle royal in the buffalo pasture of the 101 ranch that day when this buffalo bull calf was taken away from his mother. The buffalo cow is a particularly jealous and anxious mother, guarding her offspring unceasingly and determined to fight to the last moment and to the last ditch in her calf’s defense. The cow from which this calf was kidnapped by Dr. Niemann was no exception to the rule. Niemann had explained to Col. Joe Miller of the 101 ranch his desire to attempt the experiment that had been suggested by Colonel Goodnight, and Miller gave him the calf provided Niemann was able to separate it from the mother. After making the gift to science, Miller explained that he then washed his hands of the entire affair, as he understood the fight that would be necessary when the calf was taken.
Niemann accepted the responsibility and two of the 101 ranch cowboys volunteered to assist him with their roping outfits. Niemann himself went into the pasture in a high-powered automobile and with gasoline sufficient to stage a prolonged race if necessary. And the race started in earnest when the cowboys attracted the attention of the mother while Niemann got the calf. He left his motor running, grabbed the calf, put it in the rear of the auto, jumped in and started for the gate, with the mother in full and angry pursuit.
The cowboys, mounted on swift horses, did all they could to distract the cow’s attention, but Niemann found even with their help that there was no time in which to open the gate, and that the only thing left to him, if he would be successful in his kidnapping attempt, was to keep on running. The race from then on was to all portions of the pasture, where the auto could possibly go and at the same time head off the short cuts that the cow mother wis making in her efforts to attack. This program was” continued until the mother became exhausted and then the cowboys opened the gate and Niemann made his exit.
At the Nieman home in this city was a Jersey cow from which her calf had been weaned on purpose to make room for the little alien. From the first day the buffalo calf accepted its new surroundings without ever knowing the difference, taking its nourishment from a foster mother and growing up through calfhood on the front lawn and with the children of the neighborhood as its friends and playmates.
From the front lawn the young bull finally went to Riverby farm to the pastures with the other cattle, with which he has ever since associated with for breeding purposes. Dr. Niemann has fully demonstrated the correctness of Colonel Goodnight’s theory that cattalo may be fur more easily produced through a buffalo bull that has never known association with its race.
Another experiment is now just ahead for this particular bull is that he will be used for crossing purposes with the large Brama cattle, perhaps a cross that has never been attempted before. The cows for this cross are being furnished at Fort Worth by the 101 ranch and will be brought to Kay county for this experiment. It is Miller’s believe that the cross will produce the finest strain of cattalo. Many of the smaller Brama cattle, about the size of the ordinary Jersey cow, have been on the ranch tor several years but the large Brahmas have as yet never been brought to this district excepting several teams of work oxen. The Brahma is practically drouth-resistant and when in need of water will search until it is found, a trait that the common cattle do not have. Mixing this Brahma qualification with the hardiness and strength of the buffalo, the Millers believe, will bring about an animal of great importance.
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