Bison, or buffalo as they have been called is classified as an exotic animal by the Federal Meat Inspection Act. A free-roaming animal 100 years ago, the bison population has dwindled from 30 million in colonial times to around 200,000 today, in the United States, according to the National Bison Association. Interest in bison meat has caused the spread of farms across the country. The Nationwide Buffalo Meat Directory lists five buffalo ranches in North Carolina. The state offers grazing and environmental conditions consistent with good bison production.
Make a plan that takes into account the number of acres needed per bison. Three to four bison per acre of grassland is typical, according to the Texas Bison Association. Prime processing age is 24 to 30 months if you are considering calves. Check with your local county extension service in North Carolina for recommendations. Many factors contribute to good feeding areas, including environment, weather, grass type and pasture rotation.
Install sturdy fencing with gates from one section to another in the grazing areas. The animal gets spooked easily, running as fast as 40 mph and capable of clearing a 6-foot-tall fence. Males weigh approximately 2,000 pounds and cows approximately 1,100 pounds. Research other bison farms to discover the best types of containment. Keep in mind that bison are not domestic animals.
Decide if you want on-site processing or off-site to another facility. North Carolina regulations require FDA-approved processing. Check with the county extension of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service for regulations and processing plant locations. Consider joining a bison association that serves the North Carolina area. Members work together marketing products and sharing experiences.
Visit North Carolina farms for guidance. Observe special equipment used to make production more efficient. Consider all expenses, including equipment for transport, farming of hay and other feed, animal health care, processing, permits, sales, and marketing and soft costs.
Calculate yield in meat per head. The National Bison Association figures 57 percent of the total live weight could be yielded as meat. Knowing the yield to market will give you an idea of what your profit will be. Choosing North Carolina to raise bison is a wise move since the animal is native to the state and land is plentiful in most counties.
Vickie Van Antwerp began her career as a technical writer for a consulting firm in 1987. Now a freelance writer in her fields of interest, her writings appear on southjersey.com, youandmemagazine.com and in "The Phelps Connection" and "The Storyteller." Van Antwerp holds an Associate of Arts in liberal arts from Gloucester County College and certification as a surgical technologist from Lenoir College.