Ark of Taste
Bos taurus primigenius
One of the earliest breeds of cattle in US history, the Pineywoods, has currently dwindled to less than 200 hardy individuals. The Pineywoods is a rugged breed thatbecause of its historyis well adapted to the humid South. They are descendants of the first criollo cattle brought from Cuba by Pedro Menendez de Aviles into northeastern Florida. Once in the US, they spread out across the Spanish colonized Southeast, into Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi where their use was adapted by the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw peoples.
The Pineywoods Cattle are humpless who have variable horn shape and length with a hide color ranging from black and roan, to yellow, to red and white spotted. Unlike other cattle breeds, especially those that originated in Great Britain and northern Europe, Pineywoods are well adapted to the humid subtropics. Because Pineywoods cattle have been selected to be efficient foragers in the scrublands of the Deep South, their meat may be preferred by those seeking range-fed, Omega-3 rich beef.
There is current interest in preserving the Pineywoods breed because of an appreciation of its environmental adaptations to place and its cultural heritage in the Gulf Coast states. After almost a century of declining numbers, cattle breeders in the South formed the Pineywoods Cattle Registry and Breeders Association (PCRBA) in 1999. Unfortunately, the Pineywoods Cattle population is among the most rare of American cattle breeds remaining on the continent. They are listed as critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and are on RAFT’s list of the Top Ten Endangered Foods in America.