Yearling heifer class as the Colorado State Fair 1983.

More Watusi History

Editor’s note: Recently Darol Dickinson and Maureen Neidhardt exchanged some information on Facebook about the history of the WWA and Watusi cattle.  We are reposting this here to share with others interested in Watusi Cattle.

Darol: In the early days of WWA everyone was encouraged to do the Watusi breed up program, mostly with Watusi bulls bred to Texas Longhorn cows. People raised half Watusi, then 3/4, then on up to a high percent Watusi. This created the greatest boom in the Watusi industry. In 1979 when we bought 15 Watusi from Rare Animal Survival Center in Ocala, FL, it was thought there were less than 50 original bloodline Watusi in North America. Many of these were owned by zoos. Nelson Rockefeller and I both bought cattle from RASC about the same time. He got 3 cows and a bull. The rest were in zoos.

Darol: For a good number of people to participate in the Watusi breed, like all imported breeds, a breed-up program was promoted by WWA. Genetically, once a pure breed is bred up to a 7/8 or better the DNA result is almost exactly the same as the 100% genetics. In the case of the Watusi, there was so much original inbreeding, many feel the high percentage cattle are more defect free, with possibly more fertility and milk production than the 100% stock.

This photo was taken at the Colorado State fair of half Watusi yearling heifers at the show. It was the largest class of Watusi ever. Very few cattle breeds have every had a show class with this many entries. Notice the size of the crowd.The breed up program brought a lot of people into the WWA.

Yearling heifer class as the Colorado State Fair 1983.
Yearling heifer class as the Colorado State Fair 1983.

Maureen: That was a fun time in 1983!!! Don Shadow of Winchester, TN is judging. My husband Marlin is riding Don Zavislan’s Appaloosa gelding and hazing the class of 54 head!! Our first, and favorite heifer, “Sanga” won the class…she was big and an outstanding individual!! (Head up, center back) I have the winners plaque to prove it!

The percentage breed-up was a good program that was never handled or given the regard that the founding fathers intended it to have.

Darol: It is amazing to me that there are 31/32 and 63/64 registered Watusi and yet WWA leaders down play the WWA breed up results. People with assumed 100% WWA cattle call prospective breeders and scold them for even thinking of using anything from the high percentage families. That is unethical!!