Bison-cattle hybrid called 'Beefalo' touted as healthy meat of the future

Bison in a field in Grand Teton National Park
Bison in a field in Grand Teton National Park Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

Restaurants and fast food chains all over the country have been adding more options to their menus, such as vegan and impossible meat burgers, over the past few years.

Now, there's a new meat option that could become the healthy protein of the future and it's called "beefalo."

The bison-cattle hybrid produces a lean meat, and the animal is much easier to take care of than a traditional bison.

A&K Ranch in Raymondville, Mo. is home to about 25 beefalo, as Kelly Dietsch and her husband, Andrew Dietsch, elected to raise the hybrid animal when they moved from New Jersey after raising cattle.

"As we like to say, when they created beefalo, they bred out the meanness but kept the leanness of the bison, so kept the good qualities of the bison," Kelly Dietsch told NPR.

The beefalo has more traits that relate to cattle than they do bison, as the percentage of bison genes in the animal determine if it's a "full-blood beefalo" or "purebred beefalo."

"The American Beefalo Association says beefalo with 37.5% bison genes are considered full-blood beefalo and the perfect mix for the breed," according to NPR. "But bovines with as low as 18% bison genes are labeled purebred beefalo."

After years of cross-breeding cattle and bison, the first healthy beefalo was produced in the 1970s.

John Fowler, an American Beefalo Association board member, told NPR that all it takes to sell people on raising beefalo is for them to try the meat.

"If I can get a person who has a crossbred herd and put a beefalo bull in his herd and have him eat some of the meat, he's sold. He'll want to produce the beefalo," Fowler said.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture has certified beefalo as having higher vitamin levels and more protein, while having nearly one-third less cholesterol, 79% less fat and 66% fewer calories than conventional beef," NPR added.

Since beefalo come from small producers, the meat isn't often found in grocery stores. Instead, the Dietsches said that they usually sell their products at three different farmers markets. Andrew Dietsch said that more and more people are interested in trying beefalo, and thanks to new leadership on the American Beefalo Board, the products will continue to become more popular.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images