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Pineywoods Cattle

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Other common names: Woods Cattle; Raikstraw

The basics:
Considered one of the oldest cattle breeds in the United States, Pineywoods Cattle are descendants of the original herd brought in by Spanish explorers in the 1500s. The coastal regions of Southeastern America (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia) became their native habitat. Through natural selection, the breed became heat-tolerant, resistant to parasites and disease, and able to thrive in sparse and marginal vegetation. Because of these desirable traits, they were favored for crossbreeding with other breeds of cattle, including imports, so that by the 1900s, the purebred Pineywoods cattle became nearly extinct.

Several breeder families decided to preserve the pure breed, resulting in several “family strains” such as the Conway, Holt, Carter, Griffen, Bayliss, and Barnes strains. Currently listed as critically rare, the Pineywoods breed is protected by conservation efforts, especially by the Pineywoods Cattle Registry and Breeders Association, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Appearance / health:
Pineywoods are small-sized horned cattle. The horns vary in size (short to long) and shape (twisted to crumpled). The body colors and coloration patterns range from solid to yellow or red and white markings, depending on the family strains. Conway cattle are red and white; Holt cattle are mostly solid duns; Griffen cattle are yellow; other strains are an assortment of colors.
Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.

Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.

Pineywoods cattle are favored for their long lives, hardiness, and the ability to thrive under hot and sparse conditions. Pineywoods are also called “dry land” cattle because they spend little time in water holes, an adaptation that makes them safe from predators who attack while the cattle are wallowing.

Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.

Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.

Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).

A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.

Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.

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