or animals represent plants and animals with a wide gene pool hat have evolved over the centuries largely without human interference. These plants and animals
are adapted for survival. They are very hardy, disease resistant, and can survive on a wide variety of food.
By contrast, most commercial
plants and animals have been selectively bred over the past decades to select for traits that maximize profit. They gain weight quickly,
are large, and fat. These traits often require human intervention in order to keep them healthy and to reproduce. These traits may lead to larger profits and a uniform
product (think tomatoes all the same size but with no taste!) but come at the expense of a very narrow gene pool. That means a single disease
could potentially wipe out all animals of a specific breed.
Pineywoods cattle are of a wide gene pool
and are disease resistant. If the worst were to happen, some of our animals would survive. Because of the wide gene pool it would be possible, through selective
breeding, to recreate most modern breeds of domestic cattle. That is why some members have the slogan: Heritage Cattle: Preserving Yesterday’s Genes for Tomorrow.”
really understand the unique significance of the Pineywoods (also called woods cattle and Rakestraw), Florida Crackers, Corriente,
and Texas Longhorns (all descended from the same Spanish stock), you need to imagine yourself a Spanish explorer in 1493 landing on a strange
coast, an area different from anything you have seen before, new animals, new vegetation. You don’t even know what is safe to eat! Fortunately, you have thought ahead and the hold
of your sailing ship contains breeding stock of small hardy cattle. You release some knowing that their strong survival instincts will probably
allow them to survive and reproduce. When you return a few months or years later you will have a ready food source.
These hardy animals not only did survive, but they
adapted to their new home. Most have lived in wild herds until recent time (much like the wild Spanish ponies on the barrier island
of Maryland and Virginia).
The ones moving west into Texas evolved to survive on wide-open
plains and have developed wide sets of horns characteristic of the longhorn breeds. The ones remaining in Florida, Georgia, Alabama
and Mississippi had to survive in thick woods and brushy areas. They are small, nimble, and have narrow
slender horns allowing passage through narrow brushy trails. They have adapted to resist insects and
common diseases of the region. They require no assistance with calving and can ward off most dogs and
predators with their sharp horns. They can also eat just about anything that grows in the region.
Even though they graze grass like domestic cattle, Pineywoods also browse
on brush and tree leaves and twigs just like goats. This makes much more efficient use of the land than domestic cattle who will
graze only on choice non-native grass.
Because cattlemen are really in the business of
growing grass to convert into protein we think that it just makes good sense to grow wild natural vegetation and use a machine
that can convert it all into protein.
For the first 350 years that these animals were in the new world they truly
lived in the wild. Since the mid 1800’s they have live in semi-wild conditions on very large family ranches along the Gulf Coast.
various races or sub-breeds are named after the families who owed the land (Carter, Holt, Barnes, Hickman, Bayliss). All are Pineywoods but
the animals on each farm evolved under slightly different conditions and can be recognized by differences in color, shape,
The Carter family, for example, can document that from 1810 to recently no cattle have been allowed
in or out of their farm. During this time the agricultural programs of the land grant universities were promoting highly bred domestic
cattle and saw these as inferior “scrub” animals. Programs were in place to completely eliminate them as a breed.
a group of conservation-minded cattlemen formed the PCRBA to save this unique resource. They acted just in time, as some estimates were that the herd
had shrunk to fewer than 200 breeding animals. PCRBA members are dedicated to preserving this endangered breed and national
resource and to keeping them in a natural of conditions as is possible.