WHITE PARK CATTLE

We’re listening to the Autumnal sounds of White Park Cattle. For about 700 years, these animals have been kept in Britain as a pure breed. Efforts to save and interbreed the White Park could be boon to cattle ranchers everywhere. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Today, there are only about 1000 White Park Cattle in the world. In the early 1930’s, a few of them were shipped to North America to begin new herds outside of Britain. Mark Fields maintains one of the three American herds. He tells us that in the 13th Century, the White Park’s ancestors – the wild cattle of Great Britain, were placed in protected parks, while others were given to the nobles for hunting.

“Only the nobility could have these wild White Cattle. The cattle gradually were reduced in numbers due to hunts, or severe inbreeding.”

“The White Park Cattle are unique in that they are the closest living relative to the Great Ox that existed in prehistoric time. Something that ancient should certainly hold something of economic value in the future. An item that immediately comes to mind is that these cattle have a very low birth weight, so there are very few veterinary problems when a cow has its calf.”

It’s possible, too, that White Park Cattle are more resistant to disease than domesticated breeds.

“Within the White Park Cattle there has never been an outbreak of BSE, AKA, the mad cow disease. One would be tempted to draw a conclusion from that, that the cattle are immune to BSE, though there currently is no scientific data to support that.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

WHITE PARK CATTLE

White Park Cattle have remained genetically pure for 700 years. Efforts to save and breed the cattle could have positive aspects for cattle ranchers.
Air Date:10/06/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

We're listening to the Autumnal sounds of White Park Cattle. For about 700 years, these animals have been kept in Britain as a pure breed. Efforts to save and interbreed the White Park could be boon to cattle ranchers everywhere. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Today, there are only about 1000 White Park Cattle in the world. In the early 1930's, a few of them were shipped to North America to begin new herds outside of Britain. Mark Fields maintains one of the three American herds. He tells us that in the 13th Century, the White Park's ancestors - the wild cattle of Great Britain, were placed in protected parks, while others were given to the nobles for hunting.

"Only the nobility could have these wild White Cattle. The cattle gradually were reduced in numbers due to hunts, or severe inbreeding."

"The White Park Cattle are unique in that they are the closest living relative to the Great Ox that existed in prehistoric time. Something that ancient should certainly hold something of economic value in the future. An item that immediately comes to mind is that these cattle have a very low birth weight, so there are very few veterinary problems when a cow has its calf."

It's possible, too, that White Park Cattle are more resistant to disease than domesticated breeds.

"Within the White Park Cattle there has never been an outbreak of BSE, AKA, the mad cow disease. One would be tempted to draw a conclusion from that, that the cattle are immune to BSE, though there currently is no scientific data to support that."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.