Southern Plains Bison Pointers March 2017

Calving season has begun and if your are among the blessed living history ‘with bison’, there’s nothing like the colors of spring and early summer made more brilliant with a newborn crop of sable American icons alongside their brown mothers. As caring stewards, we try and prepare for the worst during calving season, but with bison normally have little to no trouble. therefore I like to have an orphan kit ready so when something does happen – I can react immediately. An easy mistake to make in calving problem scenarios, is accidentally causing a high level of stress to the newborn. They are pretty darn tough, but until they are about 10 days old, they are not yet endothermic and can have trouble self regulating their body temperature. Therefore leaving things alone [may] be the best decision – until it’s not.

Something I find common with the herds I help, is reminding folks that feeding supplements heavily during the last trimester can cause problems. A large percentage of the calves birth weight is developed during the last trimester, and mom’s nutrition will likely end up growing a little more calf than is natural, or in the worst case scenario, than she can have. Personally I prefer to reduce the nutritional management on the brood-base to forage and mineral, with occasional feedings for inspection of the animals weekly (ish). I also try to understand that these animals have been doing ‘their thing‘ for thousands of years without the benefit of human help. The judgment call of stepping out of natures way, both with success and failures, is not easy. It is, however, important – and (!) the responsibility of a conscientious steward of the species.


Tim Frasier