THE BIG HORN BISON PROGRAM
The Big Horn Bison Ranching System is structured to support bison production and conservation. Big Horn Bison owns the land encompassing our Big Horn Ranch. We are excited to build our herds over the coming years using these native and historical lands. As we make steps to actively produce genetically pure bison herds, we plan to manage our lands to maximize the efficient harvest of grass in order to produce a viable bison product. Big Horn Bison will manage each of their ranches soon to be large herds, on-range and year-round, with minimal supplementation for the natural, native environment for which they will live. Each herd’s breeding bull-to-cow ratio will average one bull per 12 cows. After a bull has reached 5 to 6 years of age, they will be extracted from the breeding herd, and used in the Big Horn Bison Ranching System’s sustenance living program. A cow within a breeding herd will be deemed non-productive when management acknowledges their lack of breeding or reproduction of viable calves. Non-productive cows will be extracted from the breeding herds to be used within the Big Horn Bison Ranching System’s sustenance living program.
Yearling replacement females will be selected based on their individual gain on grass and conformation before they reach 2 years of age. Upon selection they will be run with the cow herds after their weaning period subsides. Breeding bulls will be selected to enter our herds based on their individual gain on grass and conformation after they are 18 months old. We plan to select both of our replacement bulls and heifers from the top 10% of their cohort individually based upon each one’s performance displayed from the time they begin weaning until they are 2 years of age.
The Big Horn Bison Ranching System allows mother nature to naturally manage our herds for selection grading purposes. Doing this brings clarity to each bisons’ individual fleshing ability, maintenance, milk production, and reproductive success. This will ensure the Big Horn Bison Ranch management teams of a bison’s productive efficiency and environmental compatibility through a meticulous yet naturally humane, multiple trait selection process. This process additionally ensures our ranches are maximizing their production of a genetically pure bison, and a viable top-tier bison product per our land’s capacity. The Big Horn Bison Production Ranching Systems will hold a criteria stringent upon removing cows deemed non-productive from our active breeding herds. Our system does however, consider extreme environmental conditions year-to-year that might take place on our ranches before making the decision to pull a bison from a herd. Under this criteria, The Big Horn Bison Ranching System expects to keep a high percentage of replacement heifers going into our breeding herds.
The Big Horn Bison Ranching System, in addition to raising production herds, is proactively building conservation herds. These herds will be bred and managed with the intention to conserve the Great American Bison genetics. Our herds under this ranching branch will contain bison that are considered unique and important to the preservation of broad based bison genetics, and for their restoration purposes. Our conservation herds will not prioritize production, but instead prioritize keeping the Great American Bison genetics intact and diverse. Calves within these herds will often not be weaned. Less cows will be pulled from these herds, and more young males will be kept in the herds until they reach at least 2 years of age. This will ensure our conservation ranches keep breeding broad based instead of line breeding via a few dominant sires. Bulls over the age of 4 will be kept to a minimum within our conservation herds. All of the Big Horn Bison Ranching System’s conservation herds will be minimally supplemented, yielding a less stringent criteria (rather than the production herds criteria listed above) on each herds culling females. Replacement females will be randomly selected from their age cohort verses being selected based upon the production herd’s criteria.
The Big Horn Bison Ranching System is currently growing their herds for maximum production and conservation purposes. Once we deem our herds viable for selling, or once we’ve grown our cohort over the industry standard size, we plan to sell bison from the top 10% of our production herds, and from a select offering within our conservation herds.