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Bison Day is Saturday, November 5th. This majestic animal definitely deserves a turn in the spotlight. The bison is the largest land animal in North America, and can weigh up to 2000 pounds! A Roswell, NM vet offers some information about bison below.
The bison is in the process of making a comeback. Their numbers were reduced to near-extinction in the last century, but the population is recovering. In fact, the bison industry is growing so quickly that their numbers are now included in the U.S. Census of Agriculture reports. Today, there are over 500,000 bison here in the US. South Dakota has the most, with over 30,000 head.
There are both pros and cons to raising bison. One definite pro is the fact that they are extremely hardy and low maintenance. In fact, bison are essentially wild. They are happiest when left to themselves, and should be handled as little as possible.
Bison need a lot of room to wander. These guys are definitely not appropriate for small farms or backyards. Each bison will need at least several acres of land. To give you an idea of how much land you would need, 20 head of bison would probably need at least 60 acres. While space is the most important consideration, you’ll also need to consider things like elevation, weather, and grass type.
Believe it or not, bison are pretty good jumpers. They therefore need taller and stronger fencing than horses, cows, or other livestock. While the idea is to make the bison happy enough to where they don’t try to escape, you will need sturdy fencing, which should be at least six feet high. And, because this isn’t an animal you can snap a halter on and lead into the barn, you’ll need chutes and corrals to move them.
There is some confusion over the distinction between bison and buffalo. (It doesn’t help that bison are commonly referred to as the American buffalo, or that there are bison-cattle hybrids referred to as beefalo.) While they are similar, they’re not the same animal. There are a few quick tells. For one thing, bison have humps and beards, while buffalo do not. Buffalo also have larger and longer horns.
As your Roswell, NM animal clinic, we’re dedicated to providing great veterinary care. Contact us anytime!