Back from the BrinkAt one time bison dominated the grasslands of North America with numbers in the tens of millions. Unfortunately, they were hunted to near extinction by the late 1880s. Today the American bison population is estimated to be close to half a million, with the most famous herd found at Yellowstone National Park. Like cattle, bison are ruminants and spend their day grazing on grasses and sedges. Before the introduction of non-native forages, the primary diet of the American bison was warm-season native grasses such as the appropriately named buffalograss.
Efficient GrazersFor producers thinking about raising bison today, there are a few things to know when planning a grazing system. While similar to a cow, a buffalo does have some unique grazing characteristics. First, bison are more efficient at digesting lower quality forages than beef cattle. This can be a benefit to producers who, for whatever reason, may not have the means of providing higher quality forages needed to sustain cattle.
Bison and AlfalfaUnlike cattle, there appears to be no bloat risk when grazing bison on large amounts of alfalfa, and there have been no documented cases of bloat. This unique adaptation lets producers take advantage of the nitrogen fixing ability of alfalfa, as well as the nutritional benefits of the legume. According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, the optimum ratio of alfalfa to grass for a bison pasture is 30 percent alfalfa and 70 percent grass. Here at Nature’s Seed, we’ve applied this recommendation to our Bison Forage Blends. Our bison blends contain this generous amount of alfalfa as well as high-yielding, palatable forage grasses selected specifically for each region in the United States.