The American Bison once ranged from the tip of Alaska into the Southern United States. At their peak, bison numbers ranged upwards of 60,000,000. They dominated the landscape as one of the most mobile of the woolly creatures, which is probably why they are one of the few animals to survive the Ice Age.
Bison are an integral part of the North American ecosystem for thousands of years. Their grazing and migratory patterns help to shape the land and promoted the great migrations of hundreds of other grassland species. Bison shaped the very ground we walk on. Their impact on other species and on the Earth is substantial, and when cared for properly they can continue to benefit the ecosystem. Bison impact is so powerful, plants are better able to perform photosynthesis, and their constant movements help to transport and bury seeds. Even bison waste is beneficial, because it fuels grasslands with an abundance of nutrients. Like all species, bison have a specific impact on the planet, and as producers, it’s our job to ensure they continue to impact the Earth in a positive way, and live happy, healthy lives.
One of the most common words of advice given to new bison producers is, “You can make a bison go anywhere it wants to go.”
Bison are handled as little as possible. In fact, they aren’t even domesticated. This is why they're still able to have such a large impact, because they interact with the environment as nature intended. In fact, the impact of bison on the land is so prevalent, cultivators of other livestock species have adopted new techniques such as rotational grazing to imitate that impact. They are not subjected to questionable drugs, chemicals or hormones. The members of the NBA (National Bison Association) feel so strongly about this that they have a resolution opposing the use of these substances in the production of bison for meat.
Research by Dr. M. Marchello at North Dakota State University has shown that the meat from bison is a highly nutrient dense food because of the proportion of protein, fat, mineral, and fatty acids to its caloric value. Check out our article on our blog about ten reasons to eat bison meat.
Consumer demand for bison meat will save the North American bison population. As demand for bison grows, so will herd numbers. The sustainable raising practices performed by all bison producers ensures that every bison raised for food has lived a humane and healthy life.