If you are interested in raising livestock, but with a twist you can pursue bison farming. Bison are valued for their meat, which has higher protein content than beef but with lower cholesterol. The industry, though, is still small. If you want to learn more about bison farming, read from our guide.
The American buffalo, misnamed early on by its comparison with the African and Asian buffalo, is more appropriately called bison.
It is raised commercially for sale live to farmers for breeding, for tourism purposes, and for their meat. The meat is valued for its high protein content than beef and for its low calorie, fat and cholesterol content than other popular meat products.
Bison Farm Startup Needs
To start a bison farm, you would need to invest in land, stock, and fencing. Expenses will be high when starting out, but it will be lower as you operate it. A rough guide when determining the size of your pasture is to base it on what cows would usually need. Bison and cow grazing needs are comparable. Alternatively, though, bison can be raised on grain. Meat from grazing or grain-fed bison is both commercially acceptable to consumers.
Those without prior experience in the enterprise are usually advised to start a farm with calves. Starting the farm with calves is advantageous in that:
- calves are more easily managed than adult bison that might have a temperament that is difficult to deal for a newbie,
- both farm owner and animals can better familiarize themselves with each other when the animal is started young
- growing animals from calves to adulthood provides extensive learning experience for a rancher
How large should your operation be? Bison is a social animal. It needs a herd to make it feel secure. Even if you are starting, it is recommended that you start with at least a dozen of them.
A large investment when raising bison usually goes to perimeter fencing. Fencing is necessary to contain the animals within the farm. Bison reacts as a group to danger. If one is startled or alarmed and panics, the rest also does. You would need a strong fencing to keep them all the time and prevent them from getting loose and lost and destroying property. Woven, barbwire, and electric fencing of at least 6 feet tall can be used for a bison farm. Have a gate in every side of the perimeter fencing. It will come in handy if one of your animals got out and you need to get it back in
Marketing for a Bison Enterprise
Marketing for a bison enterprise is to be considered carefully. The bison industry is small and so, a farmer must carefully plot out where and how to sell his produce. He can market meat directly to consumers and restaurants, but this strategy often takes up a lot of time, effort and money. An option is to sell it to wholesale marketing outlets, the number of which is limited. Another is for him to channel his produce to farm-marketing cooperatives, which will take care of the distribution for the members.
How a farmer manages his farm will depend largely on his belief of what works best (out of his experience). A prospective bison farmer, therefore, could well benefit from learning as much as he can from the management practices of those who are already in the business.
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