White Park Cattle
White Park Cattle have been Historically Known by: Park, White
Forest, White Horned, Wild White.
The White Park is a horned cattle breed which is white with colored
points. These points include the ears, nose, rims of eyes, teats and feet but excludes the tail switch. The upper portion of the tongue should be black while
underneath is most often pink. The intensity of these markings varies from herd to herd. The White Park is now
considered a beef breed and selected for those traits but historically they were considered dual purpose since
some herds have been used for milk production. It is reported to be well adapted to non-intensive production
The White Park is not closely related to the British White or American
White Park. Although
all three of these breeds share a common color scheme the White Park is
very genetically distinct from the other two breeds. This same color patterns is sometimes expressed in other
breeds such as the Berrenda, N'guni, BON and Texas Longhorn.
White cattle with colored points are first mentioned in old Irish sagas
dating back almost 2,000 years. They are later found again in Welsh law which was formulated at Dynevwr Castle in
Deheubarth by a series of rulers from 856 to 1197 AD. The Dynevor herd dates to this time. The Chartley and
Chillingham herds of England and the Cadzow herd in Scotland date to the mid-thirteenth century when herds in
England and Scotland were enclosed in hunting chases. Writers of the time differed as to the origin of the herds.
Some contended they were brought to Britain while others, including the famed authority Rev. John Storer, believed
they were the direct descendants of the Wild White Bull that roamed the forests which once covered the British
In the early 1800's, at the time of Storer's writing, there
were more than a dozen pure White Park herds though most were exterminated by the turn of the century. Of the six
ancient herds remaining, the best known is the Chillingham herd. The registration program for While Park cattle was
started in the early 1900s, but lapsed with the outbreak of World War II in the 1940's. At that stage only the
Dynevor, Woburn, Whipsnade and Cadzow herds survived as domesticated herds, and the Chillingham and Vaynol as
semi-feral herds. When the Rare Breeds Survival Trust was formed in Britain in 1973 these remaining herds were
given the communal name "White Park".
In the late 1930s one or two pairs of White Park cattle were imported to
Canada. Their offspring eventually made its way to the Bronx Zoo. A tale persists that these cattle were taken out
of Britain to America to save a national treasure. Sources vary on their views of this events with some stating it
was purely a business transaction.
Shortly after receiving the White Park cattle, the Bronx Zoo determined
they did not have facilities to house the wild cattle for the long term. The zoo contacted the King Ranch and a
deal was made which allowed four of the animals to be moved to Texas where they remained for nearly 40 years. When
the White Park herd was to be sold it was purchased by Mr. & Mrs. John Moeckly of Polk City, Iowa. In the
1970's, White Park cattle were imported to both Canada and the US and semen from Dynevr bulls has been imported to
both countries also.
In 1988 a small portion of the herd was sold to the Seed Saver's Exchange in
Decorah, Iowa. Shortly hereafter all but a few old cows were sold to the B-Bar ranch in Big Timber, Montana, along
with the White Park registry. The last remnant of the herd, made up of the aged females, was sold to Mark Fields of
Clark, Missouri. In 1995 there were five herds across North America. Currently the breed is found in Britain, the
United States, Germany, Denmark, Australia and Canada.
The current status of the White Park is Critical with a breeding
population of less than 50 animals in the US and a worldwide population, including its homeland of Great Britain,
of approximately 500 purebred females in 79 herds, plus bulls and young stock. The White Park cattle in the United
States have been DNA typed for purity and to determine the best breeding plan possible to save its genetic base. An
on-going breeding program has been put into place to help ensure the breed's survival.
The White Park is genetically far distant from all British breeds and this
has been established by blood typing. The breeds that appear to be most closely related to the White Park are the
Highland and Galloway of Scotland.
The White Park is a medium-size animal with mature bulls in working
condition weighing approximately 2100 pounds and cows 1400 pounds. Their value in the beef industry lies in the
high quality of their meat and in their great genetic distance from other breeds which will increase the heterosis
effects in crossbreeding systems.