#AtoZChallenge: Beefalo

beefalo =
beef + buffalo


Wikipedia tells us a beefalo is a fertile offspring of a domestic cattle (usually a male) and the American buffalo (or bison, usually a female), created to take advantage of the qualities of both animals. Buffalo meat is naturally lower in fat and cholesterol, higher in protein, and more tender and tastier than that of steers, and the animals are better able to tolerate the cold and have an easier time calving than domestic cattle.

A beefalo’s DNA is 3/8 bison; those animals with a higher percentage are considered cattalo. Conservation groups are critical of the practice of interbreeding cattle with bison, claiming that interbred animals are polluting the gene pool. Which might be true, although “Dr. Dirk Van Vuren, formerly of the University of Kansas… points out that ‘The bison today that carry cattle DNA look exactly like bison, function exactly like bison and in fact are bison.'”

How do you feel about this? It sounds as though the beefalo is a response to a need for meat that’s healthier and tastier, and that crossbreeding cattle and bison results in an animal that has certain desirable qualities. I can understand the concerns of conservation groups, who want to preserve the bison as it was, but it also sounds as though interbreeding is somewhat unavoidable, especially where cattle and bison share the same grazing fields.


Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

56 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: Beefalo”

    1. With respect to John, I’d like to (beefalo?) chip in here, since I worked four years in Yellowstone, between the Old Faithful Inn and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

      There are beefalo on some ranches outside the park, but the bison in the park are a crossbreeding of Plains and mountain buffalo. Unless somebody’s beefalo escaped and wandered into the park, which doesn’t seem likely, the park has bison – actual, authentic, wild buffalo.

      Although it’s quoted up there that beefalo are bison, there are very obvious differences in appearance, and there is a disease (brucellosis) that cattle get that bison do not, so there are clearly differences in the species.

      I find both beefalo and buffalo meat delicious!

      Boldly Going Through the Alphabet!
      Part-Time Minion for Holton’s Heroes
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      1. I think the guy was referring to bison that have a trace or very small percentage of cattle DNA. Not enough to change the appearance or other attributes of the animal, but it’s there, and there are some who say it can’t be called a bison if there’s any cattle DNA. Who knows? it might occur naturally….


  1. Hi John – I was going to write about Rare Breeds … so this is interesting … and the States has a much wider range of gene pools – I’d have thought this might be a good idea – but we also need to keep the purity of each breed as well … cheers Hilary


    1. I think there’s a place for both purity of the breed’s gene pool as well as cross-breeding. Now there are some instances when it makes no sense; I’ll talk about that a little later on, so stay tuned…


    1. No, but I have tasted bison. Ted Turner, who owned CNN and other cable networks before selling them all to Time Warner, had a chain of restaurants in the Atlanta area called “Ted’s Montana Grill,” and I had chili made with ground bison. Pretty tasty.


    1. Ted Turner, an Atlanta businessman who used to own the cable networks CNN, TNT, TBS, and others, now raises bison in Montana, and that herd is pretty genetically clean.


  2. I’m really just wondering where you put the link up for your post i.e. “A” “B” “C” etc. I am a really newbie to the bloggoshpere…If you could help that would be great…blessings ❤


    1. The titles of my posts for the A to Z Challenge (at least for the portmanteaus) all start with “#atozchallenge:”, followed by the word of the day. Considering I now have two themes (a dumb mistake on my part that’s turned into a second theme), I’m working on adding an index somewhere. It’ll take some time…


      1. Okay I did that yesterday, should I add that Letter box too ??? I already have the widget A to Z Challenge..Could you go look at my post and see if I did it right and tell me what think…


  3. When on Catalina island I learned there are buffalo there only because they were shipped in for a Hollywood movie (I believe with John Wayne) and after shooting, they left them there. They have grown and reproduced to this day and now are a major tourist attraction on the island. I’m a big fan of the buffalo. Always admired it’s majestic nature. I’ve had 2 buffalo burgers in my time, both delicious. Great post.


      1. You’re welcome. I looked up “Catalina bison herd” on Wikipedia just now and got this: “A herd of American Bison roam, supposedly first imported to California’s Catalina Island in 1924 for the silent film version of Zane Grey’s Western tale, The Vanishing American. However, the 1925 version of “The Vanishing American” does not contain any bison whatsoever and shows no terrain that even remotely resembles Catalina, according to Jim Watson, columnist for the Catalina Islander newspaper.” Zane rhymes with Wayne? LOL. I had that totally wrong. Indeed there is a local legend though.


  4. John, interesting info on the beefalo. I would like to try it is supposed to be better for you and I’ve heard it’s tastier. I have no problem with crossbreeding the animals to get a leaner, healthier meat if it doesn’t harm people. Can you image someone ordering a beefaloburger and an order of fries? Two foods that contrast were health is concerned. lol Thanks for hosting the #AprilA2Z fun!

    Curious as a Cathy
    All Things Vintage: Bomber Girls #AprilA2Z


  5. Surfed in from A-to-Z. OMG, a whole month of portmanteaus?? You’ve given this English teacher/poet’s heart something to smile about. And since language always changes, and since we have such a tendency to hybridize everything eventually, none of this comes as a surprise.


    1. I don’t know what the status is today. Maybe the thought of eating beef that was part bison was too gross for people to fathom, even though it was tastier and lower in cholesterol. You’d think with the concerns about obesity and heart disease people would want an alternative.


  6. As a vegetarian, I can’t really comment on whether I’d want to eat Beefalo (or Bison, for that matter). And I’m kind of on the fence about cross breeding. If they are going to cross breed naturally, then not sure that I see the issue. Sometimes something stronger comes out of cross breeding. And evolution .. happens. Whether guided or natural, things don’t often stay the same.


    1. Right. I think it’s possible to keep them separated enough that the interbreeding doesn’t affect the gene pool of cattle or bison. I’m just amazed they can look at the DNA and tell which is which.


    1. It does sound like something from the kitchens of Hector Boiardi, doeesn’t it? Glad you’ve enjoyed the first couple; I think I have a few other good ones coming.


  7. I live in Ecuador now where all the beef is grass fed and it’s extremely lean with virtually no fat. What this means is the beef is very tough. It literally takes pressure cooking AND slow cooking to get the meat tender. We actually have to add fat to be able to brown ground beef. With that said, I would give anything for a nice beefalo steak! I hope you’re having fun with the A to Z!

    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett


  8. Okay, so beefalo is an amazing word. I have no opinions on it beyond that. I loooove portmanteaus. I will probably say that on every comment I leave here during the challenge. Forewarned is forearmed and all of that.


  9. As you say, when they share the same space… I think this is not that surprising. Ha!

    Plus, I like the word beefalo. I intend to use it… frequently.


  10. Ok…I had no idea this is real and so I double-checked and it is! I’ve not seen it here where I’m from though…wonder if I ever will…


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