Southern Plains Bison: June 2015

Lots of grass, plenty of water; what could go wrong? Right? This year is different than many of the past, and in many ways including any normalcy in nature. We can expect that our native-grazers might also be a bit more mysterious if we don’t observe diligently – ascertain and react. I think the best way to accomplish this is to observe the herd, and their behaviors, with attention to how content they seem. The answers your looking for come in questions:

1] Compared to the herds history; are they consuming an inordinate amount of mineral?
2] Are they getting enough to eat?
3] Are they showing reserve-system, or is their body score slipping?
4] Are they wormy?
5] Have they totally shed their coat?

These are just a few questions I ask as I observe a herd. It’s this time of year that the job at hand has everything to do with questioning your answers to result in a herd entering the breeding season in good health, and on the gain. The forage regimes across the southern plains are diverse and can be drastically different. Therefore if you have a friend or mentor running bison in short grass, and your bison habitat is predominantly improved [exotic] with no fertilizer, the realities this time of year will be totally different for the herd and your plan.

Personally; I like to ask the bison about their circumstance and look for ways they can tell me what they need. Some of the ways to communicate with them might include: A rough [poor-quality] bale of hay accessible to them – Fecal analysis – upgrading my mineral formulation – forage samples – and my eye. If your eye is still in development, take pictures of your herd when thay are in optimum condition, and compare their body-score to that picture. This is a much better way of detecting severe changes compared to running them through the chute and weighing them in the heat, with red-dots in tow.

Summer in the Southern Plains is a good time to leave them alone and let them do their thing. It is also the time for us to have our thinking caps on, to their benefit and ours.

Frasier Bison L.L.C.