The American Bison Association of Australia
was formed in 2012 to locate and bring all the owners of American Bison here in Australia together. They are such unique, majestic animals that can provide us with such a lean tasty alternative red meat. They are also known to be a great tool for training in the cutting horse or draught horse arena’s.
It is very important for the future of the Bison industry in Australia to raise healthy animals. By sharing knowledge, techniques and resources we will be able to get the full benefits out of this growing industry. It won’t take long for consumers to pick up on this delicious product once it becomes available.
Australia Tourist Guide
Werribee Open Range Zoo
American bison, were thought to be the first animal on the planet to inspire people’s desire to protect a species after drastic figures showed 80 million of them were reduced to 4000 in just 200 years. The zoo was home to a herd of eight bison, including five-month-old calf Lakota. Werribee Open Range Zoo is 35km from Melbourne’s CBD. The ‘Shadowfax and the Savannah’ package includes admission and an off-road safari at the zoo, as well as a two-course meal and glass of wine at Shadowfax Winery. Bookings essential, visit zoo.org.au.
2016 – Benji, 9 years old
Members of Wingham Pony Club are taking part in a campdraft clinic using American bison instead of the usual breeds of cattle.
Kendal and Georgia Neilson from Murrurundai conduct these clinics all around NSW and Queensland and even use their bison for competitions.
The bison are great for experienced campdrafters to improve their skills and also for beginners to learn the skills as the bison are calm, easy going and well educated.
ABC Rural By Marty McCarthy -Posted Tue Aug 6, 2013 ,QUEENSLAND
New food laws may put exotic meat on the buffalo bill
Date March 25, 2012
Skip the entree: Guy Lawson with a kangaroo dish at the Napier Hotel. Photo: Rodger Cummins
SHOPPERS who are wild about kangaroo could soon find meats such as bison, buffalo and camel on their supermarket shelves.
While it is legal to eat so-called ”exotic meats”, which also include antelope, alpaca and llama, complex regulations have made commercial production difficult or unviable.
This may be about to change. Food Standards Australia New Zealand will call tomorrow for submissions on a new national standard for the processing of ”wild game and minor species”. The agency said the current ”prescriptive” requirements could be replaced by alternative slaughter and processing methods.
In particular, farmers are expected to call for an end to the requirement for bovine animals such as bison and buffalo to be killed in an abattoir.
Victorian bison farmer John Perry said forcing a temperamental, 1200-kilogram beast on to a truck was onerous enough but the stress of transportation on bison was also more severe than on cattle.
”Transporting these animals for slaughter is not ideal, from a commercial or a welfare point of view,” he said.
”Instead, we should be allowed to shoot them humanely in the field and use a mobile abattoir to process them for sale.”
Mr Perry has 80 bison on his property at Cheshunt, 60 kilometres south of Wangaratta, but is not currently producing any meat for sale.
He is one of fewer than 10 people farming bison in Australia and said regulatory change could help them realize their potential. ”Bison is slightly sweeter and leaner than beef and is becoming incredibly popular in the United States,” he said.
Victorian distributors say the potential for markets in bison, buffalo and camel meats is being stymied by regulations that cause irregular supply.
”There’s a market here for bison but I just can’t get it in,” said Ken Lang of Yarra Valley Game Meats. ”Camel and buffalo are hard to get, too.”
Queenslander Harvey Douglas hopes potential changes to the meat-processing standards could allow him to use his mobile abattoir to process camel meat for domestic use. ”The government’s planning to cull something like 50,000 camels this year and just leave them in the desert to rot,” Mr Douglas said. ”It is just an incredible waste of resources … we should be allowed to process them in the field.”
Camel and kangaroo meats tend to be higher in protein, lower in fat and have a smaller carbon footprint.
Coles and Woolworths have been selling kangaroo meat for more than 10 years and say sales have been growing by up to 25 per cent a year.
Kangaroo was legalized for human consumption in Victoria in 1993 but it remains illegal to commercially harvest kangaroos.
So while Victorian farmers with culling permits can shoot as many as 30,000 kangaroos a year, they are banned from selling the meat.
”They’re currently killing kangaroos and just putting them in a pit, which is crazy given the demand for the meat,” said Nash Cowie, of Wangara Poultry and Game in Kensington.
The Napier Hotel in Fitzroy has been selling kangaroo dishes for 15 years and currently serves up about 100 kilograms a week.
”We get our kangaroo from South Australia but we would love to get it locally, if the quality was right,” manager Guy Lawson said.
The proposed changes to food standards will have no bearing on Victoria’s kangaroo harvesting laws. But a government spokeswoman said it was ”undertaking some preliminary work to assess the feasibility of commercial kangaroo harvesting which occurs in other states”.
Bison at Aranyani Adventure Tourist Park670 Elliotts Road Myrtle Creek
IT MAY not be on the menu at your favorite steakhouse at the moment, but Damen Wells is hoping the ultra-lean bison meat he is growing on his property at Myrtle Creek, south of Casino, will one day be a highly sought-after source of red meat.
According to a Canadian study, bison is the leanest form of meat in the world, with just 2.4g of fat per 100g, compared with 8g per 100g for beef.
After starting in 2009 with just 11 animals, including one bull, Mr Wells has grown his herd to 32, and one day hopes to supply breeding stock and meat to the growing market.
Mr Wells, 32, doesn’t come from a farming family. He grew up in Brisbane and became a carpenter.
But after a few years in the trade he and his wife, Shannon, decided to buy what Mr Wells calls some “real Australian bush” – 477.5ha (1180 acres) predominantly covered in melaleuca and red gum, with 2.5km of creek frontage.
“I really liked the idea of a blank canvas where I could do and build whatever I wanted,” he said.
Somewhere along the way he got the bug for bison and went to the United States to learn about farming them.
Although he does have some cattle (Brafords), he says there are several advantages to farming bison.
“They breed longer and quicker, they’re hardier, they eat more species of grass and have a more efficient digestive system and because they stay tight as a group, they don’t over-graze,” he said.
Mr Wells founded the American Bison Association of Australia which links other breeders to keep records of bloodlines and where they are in Australia.
He estimates there are only about 500 bison in Australia, including several in zoos.
Mr Wells has a new bull arriving from Dubbo Zoo in coming weeks.
In the US, the bison business is booming, with 350,000 animals being farmed and another 150,000 in the wild.
But bison was nearly hunted to extinction, with only 750-1500 estimated to have been left at the end of the 19th century. One hundred years earlier, the population is believed to have peaked somewhere between 50-70million.
To supplement their farming activities, the Wells also have tourism facilities including four teepees and other camping sites available, plus a nine-hole mini-golf course, canoes, a swimming pool and tours available in his amphibious Argo – a four-wheel-drive that floats.
For more information about the Wells’ bison and accommodation, visit www.aranyanibison.com
Australia – Bison for beef 22 Jan 2012
STEVE TOLMIE has turned a vision into a reality by breeding bison on his 125-hectare Dubbo district property.
After deciding he wanted to move away from breeding traditional beef cattle, Mr Tolmie established Sandy Valley Bison in 2006 and has been building up his herd ever since.
Wanting to breed something a bit unusual, Mr Tolmie said he chose the great, thunderous beasts because he had traveled extensively in the US and always liked them.
He also found it was a very marketable product, with every part of a bison having some purpose.
About five years ago, Mr Tolmie introduced his first bison, one bull and two steers, from the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, and then four females from Ashley and Deanne Brown’s Beetoomba Bison, Corryong, Victoria.
Since starting out with just seven bison, Mr Tolmie has been breeding the beasts using his own bulls – broken up into three breeding groups – and now runs 38 head, including cows, calves and bulls.
Mr Tolmie hoped to breed numbers up to about 60.
“This number would mean I could make a viable living and would have enough to be able to market to select local restaurants.”
While it might seem like an unusual enterprise, with less than 500 bison in Australia, Mr Tolmie said there was a good market for the meat and other by-products domestically.
“There is basically a market for every single part of a bison, including the skin for rawhide, bones for making native American artifacts, fibre for clothing, insulation and art, obviously meat and bleached mounted skulls.”
Mr Tolmie said the bison fibre was extremely sought after, with the coarse guard hairs averaging 59-microns and the fine down hairs ranging in diameter from 12- to 29-microns.
“The water retention of bison fibre is higher than that of greasy sheep wool and has no lanolin.”
As he was still building up numbers Mr Tolmie was still focusing on the breeding rather than the markets at the moment.
Once he had enough numbers, Mr Tolmie would send the steers to the abattoirs and would then package the meat to sell to restaurants.
“If there was any surplus meat we could also value-add by processing the meat into jerky or summer sausage.”
Mr Tolmie said currently he leased his bison calves to cutting horse trainers for a two-year period.
“The calves and yearlings are sought after by the cutting horse industry to help educate their horses because bison are very fast and agile and can change direction very quickly,” he said.
Once they are about two-years-old they get too big for cutting, so Mr Tolmie gets them back and then puts them onto natural pasture for three to four months.
As bison were wild creatures and not domesticated in any way, they were very susceptible to weather conditions and thus average about three calves every five years.
The bulls were left running with the females, however, the females naturally came into season in February (when the climate suited them) which meant calves were born from October to December – basically when they knew there would be abundant feed available.
The largest land mammal native to North America, bison males can weigh more than 1000 kilograms and stand at about 1.8 metres high at the shoulder, compared with females which stand about 1.5m and weigh from 350kg to 600kg.
With only five bison breeders in the country, Mr Tolmie is pushing to establish a bison association so they could form an alliance rather than tackle industry issues individually.