Lotsa different cattle to love
Research has shown that ancestors of the feral Longhorn went through multiple generations of
predominantly natural selection, compared with the human-directed selection of Old World cattle.
BY JAIME PULLMAN
here are more than 1000
different cattle breeds on
earth. Only about 250 of
those thousand are considered
beef breeds. Some
we know well, like Angus or Hereford.
Some you may never have heard of
like Caracu (from Brazil) or Bazadaise
(from France). According to Virginia
Cooperative Extension (Virginia
Tech, Virginia University), there are
more than 60 different beef breeds
found in the United States, but most
of the genetics utilized for commercial
beef production come from only
about 20 of those.
Each of the breeds represent some
impressive biodiversity, and each
breed around the world developed
in their own particular way due to
environmental pressures and, for the
last 10,000 years or so, human selection.
Heat or cold tolerance, differing
parasite resistance, as well as different
forage abilities and body size, all
refl ect the environmental conditions
under which they developed.
“I’ve been interested in animal
breeds all my life, and that sort of history,
even as an undergrad at NDSU,”
shares Dr. David Buchanan, Professor
of Animal Science and Associate Dean
for Academic Programs for the College
of Agriculture, Food Systems and
Natural Resources at North Dakota
State University. “I was at Oklahoma
State University for 28 years and I
helped to start a website,
now, which is
used by members
the livestock industry, but also by
teachers. We got emails from teachers
in places like Philadelphia and Boston
letting us know that they were using
the site for teaching their students
about agriculture, so it’s something
really good,” says Dr. Buchanan.
The site, a directory of livestock
breeds, includes details and descriptions
of hundreds of cattle from the U.S.
and around the world, from Akaushi to
Gelbray to White Park. Comprehensive
sites like this are vital for recording
information about each of the many
breeds and distributing that information
to the industry and public.
One of the things we can
learn is how the same breed
of cattle differs in various
96 I WORKING RANCH I JUNE / JULY 2019