Looking for Buffalo Meat for Sale? You’ll be surprised to learn that you’re actually in the market for Bison Meat, not Buffalo! Read on to learn more about the difference…
After years in the cattle business, Clifford and Pam Montgomery were ready for a new adventure and Clifford got them started with the purchase of a few American bison heifers in 2001.
Today, nearly 20 years later, they are selling packaged frozen bison meat as well as young calves on the hoof through their very own Show-Me Bison Meats of Columbia, Mo. “These are grass-fed, grass-finished animals raised on our farm, producing lean meat that is healthy with a melt-in-your mouth flavor,” Pam described their unique business. “Bison meat is lower in fat and calories than beef, pork or other meats. We have a storefront in Columbia where we sell all cuts of meat. Like beef producers, we can also sell a whole cow or a half. Our bison are processed locally and are USDA inspected. They are free of GMOs, antibiotics and hormones and our meats and sales location are inspected and permitted by the city of Columbia health department. Be sure and check out our nutrient chart for more information.”
“We didn’t know much about raising bison when we started.” Pam reminisced about their early days in what started as a hobby and is now a full-fledged business. “We bought some cows, bred them and started having calves. We soon found out, dealing with bison was a lot different than raising cows. I spent that first year studying and reading lots of info on bison. That is their proper name, not buffalo.”
Early European arrivals in North America confused the animal they found on the Midwestern plains with Asian water buffalo or the cape buffalo of Africa and hence, the name confusion has persisted into the 21st century.
Genetically, the American bison is still a wild animal, not domesticated like cows or horses. The 2000 pound bulls are able to withstand three feet of snow and manage on their own, and the same applies to the rest of the herd. That is not true for the many breeds of domestic cattle now raised on those same plains as farmers find themselves scrambling to deliver hay in the midst of a winter snowstorm. Bison mature more slowly than cattle. It takes 30 months to get a bull bison to maturity, while a cow is ready for slaughter in 18 months.
“While they are very different than cattle, they are a pretty interesting animal,” Pam continued. “Ours is a closed herd, meaning we don’t buy animals from others, but rather we breed our own. We have had them DNA tested and ours are 100% bison and have not been crossbred with cattle at any point, as some producers have done in the past.
“A happy bison will never jump a fence if they have food, water and the herd. Still, you need much sturdier fences, like metal pipe fencing or large steel plates to keep them enclosed. We have chain link fence, six to eight foot tall around our house on the 25 acres where we keep our stock,” she added with a laugh. “As one producer put it, if a bison can see through it, he thinks he can go through it.”
Fortunately, Clifford is a welder by trade so that makes bison fence building easier for the Montgomery family. He also designed and made a special heavy-duty head chute they use for bison care and vet checks. “The vets from the University of Missouri veterinary school come and tend to our herd of 27 head, when needed.” Pam added. “Since they are basically wild animals, we really cannot use any kind of anesthetic medications on them, such as those used on domestic animals so this head chute really helps.”
“Fortunately, our bison are used to us and we don’t have many temperament problems with them. They do have a high sense of ‘stranger danger’ and will scamper off quick if someone else comes around. We don’t generally take folks around the bison except, of course, that we sell weaned calves to other producers or someone wanting to start their own herd. Most of the time, bison just ignore people but these animals can run up to 40 mph so you are not going to outrun them. They are fun to watch when they get to playing and doing their little buffalo hop. We use rotational grazing, which also contributes to the overall health of the animal, providing a constant source of fresh grass and cutting down on parasites.”
She concluded. “I have to say, raising bison has been very interesting and we do enjoy all that we’ve learned. It truly is a different type of livestock production and we are anxious to share it with others.”
Experts estimate that only one tenth of one percent of the tall prairie grass where these bison once flourished still exists in the world today. Clifford and Pam Montgomery through Show-Me Bison Meats are providing a uniquely American product with its own distinctive history.
Interview by Laura L. Valenti
Looking for Bison Meat for Sale in Columbia, Missouri?
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