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Bison Benchmarking Results Indicate Bison-sector Profitability

Results of the 2017 bison benchmark analysis indicate that cash returns for certain bison operations have more than tripled.

Information from 23 cow-calf operations with over 100 cows (186 cow-herd average) in 2016 indicates that since 2012 cash returns per cow increased from $300 per cow to almost $1,050 per cow. Thirty operations with herd size of fewer than 100 averaged 60 cows and cash returns of $863 per cow.

Information on bison finishing operations indicates that for bison bull finishing operations, cash returns on larger operations increased from $325 per head in 2012 to almost $600 in 2016.

This information and more is included in Smoke Signals, the industry publication and includes data on both finishing bulls and heifers. There is also information on backgrounding bison.

The benchmarking report released in October provides valuable financial and production information for bison producers against which to measure their performance. Financial information on detailed costs of production and selling prices is provided in all categories. Also provided is production information on weaning rates, weaning weights, and average daily gains. This information is very helpful for producers to evaluate their production and financial performance to identify areas of improvement. It is also invaluable for new producers in developing their business plans or those who are planning to grow their present bison business.

Go to the 2016 Benchmark results report in the October 2017 Smoke Signals.


Seven years ago with the support of bison producers and Saskatchewan Agriculture, the bison industry initiated the collection of data to assist in measuring the financial and production performance of the bison industry. With the project’s success the Canadian Bison Association, Saskatchewan Agriculture, and Alberta Agriculture expanded the project. Data will continue to be collected with the goal of having industry information that covers 10 years.

For More information contact the Canadian Bison Association office at 306-522-4766 or go to 2017 Benchmarking.

Ave. Cow-Calf Cash ReturnAve. Finishing Bull Cash ReturnWeaning RateWeaning Wt (Bulls)
Year 2012
- Under 100$300$34389%484
- Over 100$307$32587%490
Year 2016
- Under 100$863$58183%474
- Over 100$1049$59783%465

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