Southern Plains Bison: April 2014

Spring has most definitely sprung and it’s ‘raining red-dots’. For me; it’s miraculous and one of my favorite times of the year. Just the other day I was working on a round-to-it with the herd off in the distance, but well in sight. It was late afternoon and turning into early evening.  My hands were occupied with menial task, while I contemplated things that were complicated to me for no reason and to no pragmatic end.  All at once the herd emerged from its afternoon hibernation, set off by a red-dot chain reaction of running and playing for no reason and to no pragmatic end. Then the mothers joined in and it all became a colorful display of absolute silliness.  There are many things about bison that we in the bison world call the bison-advantage. Entertainment, in my opinion, has to rank highly among them.

Calving season with bison, for the most part, is free of issues and situations requiring our help. All the help from us should be a matter of thinking ahead and preparing the herd for success. That being said, when things do happen it’s good to be prepared.  Having a relationship with a local veterinarian proves beneficial and worth the effort because the things that rarely happen, tend to happen on weekends and holidays and always feel like the need for help is [in a pinch].

Another good preparation measure is an orphan kit. Orphans happen and if you have never had one, it seems fun and cute at first. Before you know it; you have a buffalo in the house that learns how to open the refrigerator.  The orphan-kit should include: 1) betadine 2) clostrix [or some correct form of colostrum] 3) Pedialite 4) milk replacer 5) a human baby-bottle [for starting them] 6) a location in mind to safely house the orphan & 7) a mentor or [go-to guy] for advice.

When orphans happen, the clock is ticking for them with regard to food, antibody transfer and hydration. An orphan kit that is never used is the best kit of all. Not having the kit ready and waiting, can cause unnecessary losses as the clock ticks out for the newborn. Another option is to leave them in the herd. Many orphans will become adopted by a cow, or all the cows, and make it just fine. Personally, I am opposed to intentional orphans and only condone bottle-babies as an act of rescue.

By: Tim Frasier – Frasier Bison LLC