History of the Breed
The White Park cows (WPC) are dated back 2,000 years ago. The WPC are an ancient breed from the British Isles. There has been long standing- history in ancient documents. For a while the White Park Cows were running free in the wild. When the cows were in the wild the Romans hunted these animals for the meat and also the sport. They were bred and used for ceremonial purposes during the pre-Christian era (The Livestock Conservancy). During that time the cows were just as popular as deer and other game animals. A lot of people don’t know the history, use, and their physical traits of the cows. The WPC retain many primitive traits, especially in their grazing behaviors and as well as preferences.
A group of cows were imported from England just prior to the outbreak of World War II. The cattle (exported to protect them from possible Nazi invasion in the 1940’s) were originally sent to the Toronto Zoo and subsequently to the Bronx Zoo. So, they the White Park are relatively new to America. The Bronx Zoo determined that keeping cattle was not a long-term project for them. But lack of space dictated that they be moved to the King Ranch in Texas. From Texas they were moved to Polk City, Iowa and finally here to Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa in 1988 (Stancato, Angela).
There are three types of White Park cows: Ancient White Park (which have horns), American White Park (are the modern style of white park we see today), and the British White Park (are polled and derived from the ancient White Parks). The people also called them different names like: White Forest, White Horned, and Wild White. Since the White Park cattle ran in the wild for so long, they were considered a wild animal. The only way the White Park cattle would die is by “natural selection” meaning that mother nature would decide what animals would reproduce and which ones would die.
The White Park cows are used for both a beef cow and a dairy cow. A mature adult male bull will roughly weigh between one thousand eight hundred pounds and on the other hand a mature adult female will weigh anything between one thousand pounds and one thousand five hundred pounds. Fertility is the most important economic trait in the cattle industry, known to be the ability.
White Park calving rates are high, and first calf heifers conceive easily. White Park cattle are for their longevity which means they will live long. A cow can live up to fifteen to eighteen years depending on the cow’s condition. Since the White Park cows were running in the wild for so many centuries the White Park cattle self eliminated calving problems and as of today these cattle offer a high percentage of live calf crops. Today the breed is known for ease of calving, excellent foraging ability, longevity, milk, high fertility and exceptional hybrid vigor (Alderson 1997). Today, the breed is used mainly for the production of high‐quality meat and for conservation grazing.
When the White Park cattle survived in the wild for thousands of years, they developed a hardness and vigor which enables them to forage and gaze under stress conditions and use poor quality roughages to the maximum. Again, since the White Park cattle ran free without any help from mankind they survived without shelter, fed, and health conditions. This has enabled the breed to withstand changes in the environment, feed, and stress conditions better than any other cattle. White Park Cattle have been proven to be “easy keepers”, meaning that any animal efficiently converts feed into pounds of gain or maintenance. Over the years data has been proven the average carcass weight of a White Park cow to be seven hundred and twenty-six pounds, with an average ribeye area of thirteen square inches, while maintaining an average yield grade of two point four. Palatability, taste, of beef consumed today is an ongoing concern for the consumer. Many times, a consumer cannot predict if the beef they buy at their local market will be tender, juicy, or tasty, as the meat they purchased the week before. Packers that market the White Park have constantly praising the consistence quality of the tasty, tender, juicy White Park beef they have purchase day after day.
The physical traits of the White Park cows are black and white. The ideal marking for a White Park will have 5 black markings which include: ears, eyes, nose, mouth, teats, and hoofs. They only have black ears, black noses, and black feet. They may occasionally get black spots. Sometimes in the herd you can get a White park cow that is red or very rarely all black. Many of the animals have dark skin, and some have small speckles of black or blue scattered on their coat. A selected few individuals are born solid black or red. Historically these were culled.
“Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science.” Animal Science, www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/whitepark/.
British White.” British White | Cattle Exchange, www.cattle-exchange.com/content/british-white.
The Livestock Conservancy, livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/ancient-white-park.
Proxy Server Login, onlinelibrary-wiley-com.proxy.lib.iastate.edu/doi/epdf/10.1111/age.12026.
SVF Foundation " Blog Archive " Ancient White Park Cattle, svffoundation.org/animals/ancient-white-park-cattle.html.
Stancato, Angela. “Ancient White Park Cattle: Old Breed, New Babies!” Seed Savers Exchange Blog, Seed Savers Exchange Blog, 17 Apr. 2014, blog.seedsavers.org/blog/ancient-white-park-cattle-new-babies.