Working With Nature
Bison are ideally suited for the northern climate found in Canada. Their extra fur cover on the shoulders, plus the extra development of the front half of their body allows them to turn towards the wind and storms of winter. They are also able to push through the snow cover of the prairies with their large head and muscles to find the grass beneath for grazing. And, they require less food in the winter months because their metabolism slows. You won’t find a bison migrating south for the winter!
Ranchers and farmers who raise these animals are quite amazed at their ability to take care of themselves. They must be handled with every respect because they do no behave domestically. Bison are handled much less frequently than other livestock. They are not branded nor are they castrated. Bison are a herd animal and are most content around others. but there is still the need to establish who is leader!
What do Bison Eat?
Bison are considered a keystone species. The way they graze and interact with their pastures contribute to healthy grasslands. Because bison are constantly on the move and a preference for grasses they leave behind habitat for other species. Their wallowing and interaction with the land is essential to support and grow the number of species on the land they graze.
In addition to foraging on native and tame pastures, commercial producers also provide salt and mineral licks to ensure they have the required micronutrients to maintain healthy animals. Many bison are also provided with a combination of grains, hay or silage at specific times of the year. A few farmers raise their animals with a total dependence on grass/pasture rations. Completely grass-fed bison have a yellow-white fat and a slightly different taste.
Prior to breeding, the bison cows are often provided a supplement ration to help improve fertility. Some U.S. and Canadian ranchers with less land for pasture, begin feeding young bison a supplemental grain ration at weaning time and continue to feed grain rations until the meat animals go to market. Most Canadian farmers provide a grain supplement for 90 to 120 days before the meat bulls and heifers go to market. The grain makes the fat cover white and takes away any grassy overtone in taste.
Bison are seldom sick. A producer may use an approved antibiotic to treat an animal. A few producers choose to buy organically grown grains to use in their feeding practices and do not use any artificial fertilizer on their land, thereby qualifying for organic farming certification. Experience has taught producers a great deal about the best management techniques and uniformly they respect and admire the bison for its healthy vigour and stamina.
Bison are raised without added growth stimulants or antibiotics added to their feed.