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- The number of bison living in ranches all over Texas is growing every year. Ranchers have a great respect for these animals because of their rich heritage and their promising future. Whether growing animals intended to populate American ranches, or destined for American dinner tables, Texas Bison Ranchers are a dedicated group of individuals.
- Bison are the true athletes of the animal kingdom. A healthy adult cow can broad-jump eight feet from a standing start. Bison are able to run a comfortable 30 miles per hour for 30 miles at a stretch. Calves can keep up with the herd just days after birth. Bison belong to the same family, Bovidae, as cattle, but caring for a bison is less like caring for cattle and more like caring for a horse-rabbit-cow cross! Bison are larger than beef cattle and have 14 pairs of ribs compared to cattle's 13. A mature bull stands six feet tall at the hump, weighs between 1,800 to 2,000 pounds, and can easily clear a 4-foot fence. Cows are about five feet tall and weigh from 900 to 1,200 pounds. Bison reach sexual maturity at age three instead of two as do cattle, but live 20 to 40 years compared to just 10 to 15 for cattle. Bison cows are known to have calved as late as age 30.
- Bison have cloven hoofs and are ruminants (cud-chewers) with unbranched horns present on both males and females. Horns consist of a bony core, a permanent part of the skull, covered with a horny sheath. The forehead is convex rather than concave. A bison’s eyes are large and their eyesight is good, additionally, Bison have an acute sense of hearing.
- A distinguishing Bison feature is the huge shoulder hump that makes their hindquarters look tiny. The hump is pure muscle hitched to extra-long shoulder spines which gives leverage to lift the huge heavy head. Their hair coat is shaggy and thick during winter. The winter coat is amazingly good insulation: after a hard frost or snowstorm, the upper surfaces on a bison are silvered in frost or snow which does not melt from the animal's body heat! In warm weather, bison shed to a slick summer fur which they groom using their long tongues.
- Bison are much more gentle on the land and grasses than cattle because they move around more and do not crop the grass as closely. They will thrive on fodder that won't support cows. Their hoofprints leave depressions that collect water and their dung serves as a powerful fertilizer: both assist in seedling germination and establishment.
- Bison meat, once a staple that fed an Indian nation, is now a healthy option for modern day Americans. Bison that we eat today is farm raised, not wild but still offers the health advantages of their ancestors. Bison are raised on pasture that produces lean and healthy meat. Some producers ‘finish out’ the animals on grain, while others grow a grass-fed product. Since bison are native to America, they don’t need antibiotics or growth hormones like cattle. Bison meat tastes like what beef wished it tasted like! With a rich beef-like flavor, bison is easily substituted in most recipes containing beef. Additionally, bison meat is leaner and has less fat and cholesterol than chicken!