Could a beefalo herd be in my future?

Beefalo in a pasture
Photo credit: cindy47452
Q:

I am interested in raising a small herd of beefalo. Do you have any information on raising beefalo. Particulary the advantages vs. disadvantages. How many head could I start out with on 3 acres? I have access to aproximatly 20 adjoining acres if need be.

- Deschutes County, OR
A:

A beefalo is a combination of 3/8 Bison and 5/8 Bovine (no standard breed was used to create the cross, but instead many beef breeds have been used to create this mix).

From an animal husbandry stand point, the management activities you would use to raise/care for beefalo are the same ones you would use in raising any beef animal. The American Beefalo Association promotes hardiness, foraging ability, calving ease (small birth weight calves) associated with the bison mixed with the fertility, milking ability (associated with growth attributes) and ease of handling associated with beef cattle breeds to be the breed's strong points. If feed efficiency is an attribute of beefalo this can translate into lower feeding costs and therefore improved profits.

How many animals can you start out on 3 acres?  Are your 3 acres irrigated or not? Irrigated pasture can run about 1 to 1.5 cows per acre for the grazing season (May - November). This carrying capacity is adjusted upward or downward depending on management of irrigation water, fertility of the pasture, mix of grass species found in the pasture and pasture rotation of the animals. So on 3 acres, I would not start with more than 3 adult cows.

If the acreage is not irrigated then the answer is none. Carrying capacities on non-irrigated pasture in central Oregon average 100 - 160 acres per cow for the period of May through November.

For the winter months, supplemental feed (hay/grain) would be required. The general rule of thumb is 1.5 to 2 tons of hay per adult cow is necessary during the winter feed period (Nov. - April). Adjustments to this can be made based on the size (weight) of the animal. Daily feed requirements are 2.5 to 3 percent of the animals body weight. As an example, a 1000 lb. cow needs access to 25 to 30 lbs. of feed per day.

Tim Deboodt
Staff Chair, Range and Natural Resources
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