Southern Bison Plains Pointers November 2016

Fast Times Where the Buffalo Roam  

Everything is happening all at once and my advice is to: get ready – get set – & SLOW DOWN.  In the southern plains we tend to work herds later in the year than in the north, mostly because our weather cooperates and the calves tend to be heavier and more able to leave their mother seamlessly.  Our cool season grasses and other forages also tend to kick into gear about now, so working to early may interrupt some late breeding. Personally I consider a late bred cow half full, rather than half empty even though the young ‘off-season’ calves slow down herd works considerably. Today’s market pretty much dictates that we give every cow, every chance – to reproduce.

My attempt at levity by saying ready/set – slow down, is meant to convey the utility of taking your responsibility of setting up a bison work for success very seriously. Ideally you have notes from previous herd works to reflect on and solve reoccurring failures, and if not, you should have mental notes to serve that purpose. Mental notes are never as good as documentation, which I strongly suggest. When you actually document failures, you might be surprised what you see and what you can improve at very low cost when given the time to consider solutions deeply. It is always good to fully analyze herd works after the fact. Be hard on yourself [never blame the buffalo] and it will pay off.

The market this year has begun and it’s aggressive. The response to bison products is great, and the excitement from new producers is high.  Personally I am concerned when prices paid, do not calculate with sustainable outcomes, but It’s hard to cuss it when you’re selling, and when prices of the past have been less than sustainable. In my opinion, greed is the only wrong choice. By that I mean; animal health and quality property sold to the buyer, should be affordable to include and expected in bison offerings today. I also feel that while the sun shines, and hay making is good, we should seek out opportunities to become part of positive things for the entire industry, albeit niche or cottage. You are part of something special if you raise American bison – so celebration by doing all you can for the big picture and you just might be helping yourself just as much as others that make up the industry …
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