By Carol Klein
Spring is my favorite time of year as the world turns green again and flower are
blooming everywhere. But the best thing about spring here on the buffalo ranch
is all the adorable pumpkin colored calves born into the herd. With a rutting
season in late summer and a nine month gestation period, calving season is
perfectly timed to the spring green-up. Calves are smaller when born due to late
winter limitations on feed making calving easier on the bison cows, a good thing
as pulling calves is not an option.
The buffalo herd does not see the need for any kind of help and are pretty self
sufficient. As long as they have grass, water and a herd for company they are
contented behind what we like to call a “happy fence.”
If they are not happy, trying to fencing them in would be futile. We like to keep the bison very happy
and are glad they are so easy to please. Of course if that happy fence goes
down or a gate is left open, they will have a good time roaming.
When it is necessary to work the herd in a handling system, to worm them or
otherwise “doctor” the herd or separate animals, the wild nature and strength are
really impressive to see. It is a powerful reminder to bison producers to always
stay safe and not take for granted their undomesticated herd.
Raising buffalo offers both challenges and opportunities but the best part is
simply sharing your life with these very special animals. To learn what is
involved in raising bison, other producers can share information about what
worked – or did not work – for them to provide us with insights to improve our
The Missouri Bison Association is hosting a conference to introduce people to
bison and to network with other producers to learn from each other. We want to
invite everyone who has considered raising bison to come learn about buffalo
and meet the folks who raise them. And the programs will also help existing
bison owners to improve their operations and herds.
On June 4, 5 and 6, the conference will be centered at Downstream Resort, four
miles west of Joplin, where Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma meet, with Arkansas
just a hop skip and jump away.
On June 4, our program will kick off with Beginning Bison 101 for
those starting to learn about bison. The afternoon program will feature Bison
Behavior: Thinking Like a Buffalo, Agritourism opportunities to add income to
the bison farm, Healthy Bison by Veterinarian Gerald Parsons, an update
at the national level by the National Bison Association, and finally a producers
forum to answer questions and share information by experienced producers.
An evening meet and greet social will allow convention attendees the
opportunity to make friends and have a great time visiting. An informal workshop
on building websites will also be available at that time for anyone who might be
June 5 will be a bus tour to visit three buffalo farms so we can see how
those folks fence and work their bison and we can check out their herds. We’ll
have lunch at the historical Hulston Mill Park. Our final stop of the day will be at
a USDA processing facility in Golden City for a tour and demonstration.
June 6th will take us on the bus again, this time to Bear Hollow Bison
in eastern McDonald County where we will see herds of bison, elk and deer.
We’ll work a few bison through the handling facilities and check out equipment
and have lunch. Then a short visit to my farm to check out more fences and
creep grazing. The last stop will be a visit to a cutting horse farm to see how
bison are used to train horses.
You are invited to join us for this conference and can register online at
www.mobisonassoc.org or by calling 417 226-4540 to have a brochure mailed to
you. Total cost for registering is $90 and includes both bus tours and food while
away from the conference center. Calving season is well under way, so expect
to see lots of these adorable orange buffalo calves on your visit.