Pineywoods cattle graze near the Kerr Center office.
Another good example of adaptation is the Pineywoods cow. These speckled
cattle grazing the Kerr Center pastures south of Poteau on highway 271
may look like Texas Longhorns, but they are something different, and
unique—a heritage breed of cattle that are in need of protection.
The breed developed from the cattle brought to the New World in the
1500s by the Spanish, just as the Longhorn did. But they evolved their
unique characteristics in the pinewoods of Mississippi (hence the name),
by just a
few families, and so are unique to the United States.
extinct Pineywoods cattle are listed on the "critical" list
by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC). The conservancy’s
definition of critical is fewer than 200 North American annual registrations
and an estimate of fewer than 2,000 global population. The Pineywoods
registry has located fewer than 1000 head of pure stock.
A Pineywoods herd has been established at the Stewardship Ranch. The cattle are being managed to emphasize meat production on pasture. The cattle were brought to the Stewardship Ranch from the Overstreet-Kerr Historical Farm. The Historical Farm had a larger herd (later moved to the Stewardship Ranch) and was long active in preserving breeds of farm animals and types of poultry whose numbers are declining, but which have many important genetic characteristics which need to be preserved.
The Pineywoods cattle are noted for their ability to survive and reproduce
under the often-harsh conditions of the South, withstanding internal
and external parasites, high temperatures, high humidity, and low quality
forage. They are very self-sufficient due to their varied foraging habits,
low birth weights, gentle disposition and hardiness. The Carter strain
of cattle kept on the ranch is noted for its excellent mammary system,
reproduction, longevity, docility, self-sufficiency and calving ease.