Bison on the Range

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EUGENE, Ore. — What’s on the menu tonight? More and more Americans are serving bison.

It not new news that Bison has less fat than beef, there’s another benefit that might explain the sudden surge in sales.

West Eugene–it’s home where the buffalo roam the Bison-Ten-Yal Ranch.

No horses there.

Don Schroeder checks on his bison daily by ATV.

“We’ve got some new calves on the ground right now. It’s kinda a fun time of year,” Schroeder said.

And every day they get a treat: bread.

When Schroeder shows us, the bison come running.

It’s truly fascinating to see them close up.

The massive stud in this herd is Apache.

“He weighs about 2,200,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder has been working his ranch in west Eugene for 37 years.

At one point, he had about 160 head. It’s down to 30.

Raising bison is more like a hobby now, but that’s in addition to Schroeder’s other job as an orthopedic surgeon.

“So I work at my office about 20- 30 hours a week, and then I come back home and do my little ranching chores,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder knows the benefits of eating bison; it’s significantly lower in fat per serving compared to beef, chicken and salmon.

Americans are buying it. According to the North American Bison Association, sales are up.

For producers it’s a win-win. The price per pound in 2011 increased 65 percent from 2009.

Here’s another benefit: in addition to being grass fed, with hay in winter and summer, you won’t find antibiotics in bison meat.

“It think the Bison Association has come out with strong statement that they don’t use hormones or antibiotics or any type of supplements in any of the animals,” Schroeder said.

The Bison Association is now actively recruiting new farmers to meet demands.

Schroeder says for anyone starting up, it’s pretty easy. You need land and adequate fencing.

This is another expense–a squeeze shoot. Without one of those, you won’t be able to round the bison up.

“They come down the channel into a big circle,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder, a licensed doctor, also takes care of the buffalo, treating them twice a year for pink eye, parasites and giving them vitamin injections.

Other than that, it’s just watching the bison roam.

If you’re interested in tasting the bison, Schroeder is donating meat for the 10th annual Buffalo BBQ at St. Marks in Eugene. It’s Saturday from noon until 7 p.m.

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