Raising Bison

Raising Bison

Raising Bison. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

When I was a young lad growing up in Kansas I knew of only 1 or 2 buffalo that were in the state and when traveling to eastern Kansas I would try and get my mom to stop so I could see them. I have always been fascinated by this animal that used to roam the plains in massive herds. Now the buffalo or bison as they are more correctly known are making a big comeback and people like Keith Yearout, ranch manager for Z Bar LLC in Lake City, Kansas are finding plenty of enjoyment in bringing these animals back from the brink of extinction.

YEAROUT: What we enjoy the best, I mean, just being out with them. They’re very majestic, they’re very calm. I mean it’s like we had a large fire on the ranch and you suddenly look around and here’s all the fire trucks and behind you is two-thousand head of bison. They’ve walked up there. They’re a very curious animal. They’re very smart. I mean they recognize your pickup. They’re not wild. They’re not going to run off. The grizzly bear is their only natural enemy and we don’t have any more of those in Kansas.

Unlike most other kinds of livestock, Yearout says that bison are really easy to handle.

YEAROUT: If you have a snow storm you don’t have to go worry. We don’t go feed them every day. They’re just an incredibly tough, natural animal. That’s where they should be. That’s where they evolved and we like them that way. They’re good for the grass, the whole ecosystem out there so we would like to see a lot more people in the business.

But like everything they are not without some problems.

YEAROUT: When they evolved there weren’t parasites out here and they’re more susceptible to internal parasites than any domestic cattle. You’ve got to take care of that problem. But you don’t have to put them in a shoot there are other ways to worm them. Safeguard, all kinds of ways but they do need to be wormed and the further south and east you go the more they need to be wormed more often.

Yearout says that the only other challenge can be when starting a herd but that the animals quickly become acclimated and their herd instincts kick in and then they are relatively easy to care for. The National Bison Association is looking for new producers as the demand for bison products continues to increase.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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