Bison Farming

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.

For resources, visit the North American Bison Cooperative, The National Buffalo Association.
 

52 Comments

  • scott said on July 12, 2010
    hi my name is scott and i live with my dad and helping him with his dairy cows a little bit but i want to start a buffalo farm . i dont have that much information or where u can buy calves i was wondering if u can send me some info and everyone is telling me why dont u go raise beef for and i say to them that my dad told me if i want to start my own business go into something that is not competitive. so i choose buffalo. i am glad u have websites for this. here's my address if u want to send some info. it is 14744 st. croix trail North Branch, MN 55056 and my name is scott mattila
  • Alex said on April 17, 2011
    hi my name is alex and i am interested in starting a business in raising bisons. i have experience in raising animals but not in raising bisons. i want to ask you if you can provide me a business plan and some books where i can learn more on how to raise this type of animals. thank you
  • Bryan & Skyler said on June 17, 2011
    Hi my name is Bryan, my friend skyler and I would like to start a bison farm and we don't have any experience with animals we would like any information on where to buy and on proper ways to raise them. We live in southern Idaho and would like a business plan of however would be the best way to approach this.
  • Fred said on July 12, 2011
    Hi my name is Fred and i want to start a Bison farm, I have a fair amount of experience working with dairy and feeder cows. I was hoping you could send me any information that would help me get going here in Michigan. thank you
  • Søren Svendsen - Tune said on September 8, 2011
    Hi my name is søren im from Denmark and i'm writing a paper on Bison farming I have no experience what so ever If you would be able to send me some Information it would be great. Thanks alot -Søren
  • Ashley said on October 9, 2011
    Hello My name is Ashley and i am also looking into starting up a bison farm but finding it very hard to find information on how to do so and were to get financing. If you had any advice or could point me in the right direction of people to talk to and books to read i would appreciate it . thank you
  • Robby said on January 25, 2012
    Hello my name is Robby My family and several friends are looking in to starting a Bison Ranch. We have no experience with farm animals or ranching. Would it be possible for you to send me information on starting a Bison operation I.E. type of land, acreage, financing. etc it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Robby
  • Carrie said on April 10, 2012
    Looking to start a bison ranch and would like information on how to do this. Please send some information.
  • Andrew J. Cook said on April 23, 2012
    Would like information on getting started, would 5 acres be enough room for a few animals?
  • brenda said on May 26, 2012
    Hi I am in northern British Columbia Canada and my husband and I are looking at buying 155 acres for a bison ranch. The problem is it is bisected by a creek, the land is muddy along the creek with some high dry land as well. I wonder how bison do in mud and if they get stuck like cows do? also are they more susceptible to illness, problems with hoof rot etc. We have really muddy clay soil in this area. I also wonder if we could save some money buy buying uncleared land. It seems that they create pasture by grazing. thanks for your time. Brenda
  • Kyle Merritt said on May 31, 2012
    Buying 180 acre farm and interested in bison farming. Currently have cows and need information on fencing, vaccinations, catch pens, transporting, and where you buy or sell the animals. Would love for me and my partner to visit an established farm to talk with farmer on experiences. We are in North Alabama area. Thanks kyle
  • Beverly Ellison said on August 10, 2012
    Hi there. I used to live in the states and ate a lot of bison which was the best meat I have ever eaten. Love it. We have some land which is currently not being used and I thought that we should look into bison. I have no experience in farming but would like the share the responsibility. I would appreciate any information you have on this, especially the sales and care of bison. They look pretty scary. Thanks Bev
  • solomon said on September 30, 2012
    i live in georgia and would like to start a bison farm my cousins have property adjoining mine on all sides and they raise beef cows. I would like to know if this would be difficult since they have established fencing around their portions of the property but the fences for their cows is not even five feet high I would have to have higher fencing but would have to know how if the proximity of my bison to his cows would cause a conflict before i make a large investment. any advise or information would be greatly appreciated.
  • Cameron said on December 17, 2012
    Hello, I am interested in Bison farming. I am aware of extensive fencing requirements and their aggression. I am unaware of the fact of how to ethically euthanize them for food. I was thinking maybe i could try to break one away from the herd and just shoot it with a bison caliber rifle, but it might be difficult to retrieve the carcass because they might stand guard around their dead like elephants (not sure if bison have similar behavior). Thus I am asking how do I kill the bison for its meat, ethically and safely (for myself). (if the answer is "the same way you kill cows" please advise on how to kill cows, and if any extra measures are needed to be taken with such a large animal as the bison)
  • Frank & Sylva Willis said on February 9, 2013
    We own 70 acres in sw Ga. very interested in bison farming
  • Belinda Yarosh said on April 14, 2013
    North Florida, I am interested to know if the USDA Agriculture does in subsides to assist you in getting your bison farm going and if so where or who would I contact. Thanks
  • Olga said on April 15, 2013
    Dear Sir/Madam, We have a hunting estate in Belarus, and we are planning to buy american bisons. May be you could recommend where we can buy american bisons in Europe? May be you have partners or friends there? Sincerely, Olga, BELARUS
  • Buffalo S said on June 24, 2013
    Hi, me and some of my work colleagues are thinking about starting our own Buffalo farm, we do not have any experience. We really would like to know if the buffaloes gets upset if you eat beef in front of them and also do they fear spiderman? Many thanks in advance.
  • leo gleser said on June 24, 2013
    I own a farm in the Golan Israel. I would like to buy 8 females and 2 bison mails.
  • kevin barnes said on August 19, 2013
    can i raize a dozen bison on 10 acres or can i have more i have 10 acers in bronsen florida
  • James Rooney said on August 21, 2013
    I currently live on the west coast of Ireland in the ciunty of Sligo and I have become interested in setting up a small time bison farm in the area to provide a different experience for restaurant goers in my area. However I do not know what type of conditions suit bison farming whether the animal requires a drier climate than that in my region and how I would go about purchasing bison in europe. Also how many bison would be required to supply roughly 4 restaurants? Regards James Rooney
  • Andre Blanchard said on September 20, 2013
    Hello we live in Northern Ontario, Canada. We are looking to start a bison farming venture here in Ontario. Looking for a model farming business plan, information on animal illness and disease in Bison, and any other information that would be beneficial to start up. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Andre B Ontario, Canada
  • Carly said on November 12, 2013
    Hi I'm interested in starting up a bison farm in New Zealand as a sustainable and healthier meat option for those in NZ. I have a little experience with dairy cattle but was wondering if you could send more information? (Prices, fencing, how to buy, etc) thanks!
  • kevin said on January 15, 2014
    Hello, my name is Kevin and I'm interested in starting a bison farm. I have experience with cows, horses, pigs, . But the meat is so much better for people. Could you please me all info on starting a bison farm and financial help or Manitoba government grants that would help an unemployed single dad would be able start with now money. I need help buying land, house, fencing, farm building, grain bin, everything to start up. I'm very broke
  • kevin said on January 20, 2014
    Looking to start a bison farm around brandon, Manitoba Canada. I'm interested in starting a bison farm. How do I get help with purchasing the animals, land, fencing, and everything else to get totally started for the farm. I would also need help getting a house to put on the farm. I'm a single dad.
  • Darrell said on February 14, 2014
    how mush land is good when starting a buffalo farm. i'm thinking about starting one can you get rich doing it
  • Sonny said on June 5, 2014
    I am looking at the prospect of establishing a bison farm along the Rainy River in Ontario. Any information you have on operational costs, breeding stock costs, fencing costs, inoculations, marketing and sales, auctions, grants would be appreciated.
  • Shannon and Jason Edwards said on June 9, 2014
    Hi, my husband and I are interested in starting a buffalo farm in upstate ny, outside syracuse. We are curious if there are any grants available for Native Americans wanting to start buffalo farms off the reservation, also looking for model business idea and grain vs grass fed options
  • Grant Jones said on July 28, 2014
    My name is Grant. Some of my brothers and I were wanting to start a bison ranch in Montana. We have some experience with raising animals. I was wondering if there was anyway I could get info on receiving any grants, where to buy bison, and getting or buying books on raising bison.
  • Ed Bowman said on August 1, 2014
    My Brother and I have a 5000 acre ranch in Montana, of which 2000 acres is fenced 8' high. It is currently not in use. We desire to either sell the property or partner with someone who can bring in at least 300 head of bison. Have perfect bottom land soil and more water than we can use. Any ideas are appreciated.
  • tom barry said on August 3, 2014
    @Ed Bowmen can you email me more about your land. Thank you. Thomaspbarry90@gmail.com
  • Henri Kerkdijk-Otten said on August 10, 2014
    @Olga (17) we as True Nature Foundation could supply you with American as well as European Bison. Please contact me at truenaturefoundation@gmail.cOm. Best wishes, Henri Kerkdijk-Otten
  • Dan Nale said on September 7, 2014
    @Ed Bowman, I just return from Montana and visited the National Bison Range. DDNale@aol.com Please email me regarding your land and desire to raise bison. Thanks! Dan
  • Shelley Hutson said on November 22, 2014
    Interested in starting a farm in Central Texas. Starting from scratch, searching for appropriate land now. Any and all information is appreciated.
  • Chris Boyd said on May 28, 2015
    Me and a few friends were looking into starting up a bison farm in Ohio. Is there any way we could get some information on how to go about doing this... I have minimal experience in this field but know many farmers around the area! Thank you
  • Dan kelly said on July 6, 2015
    Hi my name is Dan Kelly my friend Jessi patten and I am very interested in raising bison and are in the works of purchasing land outside of reno nevada. We have no experience in bison were looking for some advice on particular acreage size, what feed is best.. and if staring out with small bison numbers from calves is doable in northern nevada climates
  • Laken said on July 9, 2015
    Hello. My husband and I are considering buying a farm in Monticello, KY | Wayne County, KY. It has 137 acres. I was wondering if you could recommend me to sites and books on learning more. I have managed horse farms for many years and my husband grew up raising pigs and cattle. However my biggest concern is how we are gonna get a turn around. We would like to breed them and raise some for meat. Is this possible for someone who has never even worked around buffalo before? I look forward to any information you could give to me. Thank you for your time, Laken
  • JenK said on July 31, 2015
    I currently live on my husband's family bison farm (in production for 25+ years) in Michigan and I have slowly learned some interesting things about them. We currently have 180+ herd and sell mainly to restaurants and local customers and we can't keep meat in our freezers. For everyone looking for information I suggest you check out the National Bison Association website. Also search Bison or Buffalo on Facebook to check out Bison farms across the country.
  • BretT said on October 24, 2015
    Great info JenK, Thanks. I would love to raise Bison as well..Time for research. I have 38 acres in northern AZ any info would be awesome. At 56 yrs old this sounds like a good challenge, Bret
  • jennifer zimmerman said on October 25, 2015
    Buffalo farm. Georgia USA..Any information on start up info on a Buffalo Business would ne great. Thank You
  • Shawn shively said on December 28, 2015
    Shawn here. I am wanting to find out what buffalo cost. A fully grown one and a young calf. I am interested in ranching buffalo. So I'll need to know the price to one to twelve.I would be grateful for any other info towards buffalo ranching research. Thank you for your time. I'm in KS..
  • KENNETH H said on May 16, 2016
    I AM WANTING TO KNOW THE COST OF BISON I HAVE 100 AC OF PASTER LAND FOR THEM
  • Zeeshan Hameed beginner adviser said on July 5, 2016
    @Kenneth H, call me to your country and let me put all the setup for you. I will just take 10 percent of the profit. Thanks here is my ID 17-10821@formanit.fccollege.edu.pk

    17-10821@formanit.fccollege.edu.pk || Consultant

  • Alex B said on August 24, 2016
    Hi my name is Alex I am interested in starting a Bison farming. I have helped in multiple farms. I have also tasted this kind of meat and it is way better than beef even leaner. Thank you Alex
  • Kyle said on September 29, 2016
    We are looking to start a small bison farm on my family's farmland in NB Canada. I'm wondering the what the land ratio per animal should be. We have an old barn we will use as the primary facility. Any information would be helpful!
  • Wes said on December 14, 2016
    I am looking at starting a buffalo farm. I don't have any land yet but i may be able to about 40 to 50 acres soon and I was wondering how many to start with. Please email me and point me in the right direction with books or whatever else. Thank you.
  • JOE BISHOP said on December 20, 2016
    JOE, I AM THINKING OF STARTING TO RAISE BISON. I AM CURRENTLY RAISING CATTLE ON FAMILY FARM. THE PASTURE IS AROUND 90 ACRES. ANY INFORMATION TO WHERE OR WHEN BISON CAN BE BOUGHT, WOULD BE APPRECIATED.
  • Chaske said on December 21, 2016
    Looking for more resources for our family buffalo ranch they are grass fed and organically raised not fed steroids or giving meds and juss looking for help with raising funds for the pasture email me chaske4ic@gmail.com
  • Judy said on January 10, 2017
    Hi, my name is Judy. I'm interested in information on how to start raising buffalo. Can you send me some information on how to get started and any other information I might need. Here is my Email address: JCAROUSEL22@YAHOO.COM. THANK YOU, JUDY
  • Maipelo said on January 15, 2017
    Hi I would like to farm bison in southern part of Africa is it doable?
  • M. Jones said on March 3, 2017
    I am looking to invest in Bison. I look to purchase heifer calves for a three year plan and have more calves to sell off. I will be paying rent for the pasture per head I will run on it. What tax deductions can I use for my personal taxes to recoup some or all of the pasture rent I will be paying out?
  • Katelyn said on July 17, 2017
    Hello My name is Katelyn and I have always had the dream to have a Bison Farm. Now that I am to the point in my life I can handle all the work and responsibilities. I have grown up on my family farm and have always been around live stock. Just looking for how to get financing and how to get started. Also some books or any type of research that can help me move forward with this dream.

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