Bison have a pretty incredible history on our continent. It is estimated that at one time there were 60 million bison roaming North America. However, in the mid 1800's multiple factors contributed to the demise of the bison. By 1899 it is estimated there were less than 1000 bison left.
HISTORY TO HOPE
Thanks to the efforts of farmers and conservationists, bison herds began to repopulate through the 1900's. Census reports indicate that by 2016 roughly 119,000 bison existed in Canada alone.
BUILT BISON TOUGH
Not only have bison persevered through a tough history, they are a tough animal too. We often get asked if we will provide shelter for our herd, but they were built for this Canadian climate. After all, they spent thousands of years roaming the Northern Canadian plains with little to no shelter at all. Bison have thick skin and a wooly coat that protects them from the elements. When the wind and snow blow, we will find them standing in the field, backs to the wind and bearing down against it. Or, on the harsher cold days, they will lie down in the pasture to allow the snow to build on them as a layer of insulation, as well as protecting their body heat against their belly.
We have been asked if it is scary to go in the pen with them, and if they are aggressive. Our answer to this - the bison are not aggressive... but they are defensive. We routinely enter their pasture to check the fencing and grass, and observe the animals. However we never try to enter their space or make them feel challenged. We respect them and the power they have, and are particularly cautious during the rut.
WHAT IS THE RUT?
The "rut" is the term for the breeding season. This generally occurs between July to November each year, and bison breeding is done naturally. A bison gestation is 283 days, or about 9.5 months. Calves are usually born from April to June.
COOL! IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE TO KNOW ABOUT BISON?
Sure! There is certainly lots to admire about these powerful animals. We welcome you to contact us to learn more or set up a visit to the farm to see them in person!
Bison meat is lean, low in fat, and high in protein and iron. It is similar to beef, but not the same - it has a milder flavor with a hint of sweetness.