About Our Bison

Our bison are American Plains Bison and have shaggy, long, dark brown winter coats and a lighter weight, lighter brown summer coat.  Typically male bison are slightly larger than females and can reach in excess of 6 feet.  Both sexes have short, curved horns which they use in fighting for status within the herd and for defence.
 

Bison are naturally hardy.  They are adaptable to a variety of climates – winter storms and summer heat do not present problems for this animal.  However, bison are not considered a domestic animal and therefore require special consideration when handling.

The bison may appear slow and awkward but they can outrun and easily outmanoeuvre most horses or in our case a 1983 Ford 4610 (tractor)!  They are able to pivot on both their hind and front feet.  They are normally quite docile but will not hesitate to react if they feel threatened.  This reaction is heightened during the breeding season (rut) which usually runs from August to October.

 

Along with their hardy nature, bison tend to live longer than some of their other bovine counterparts.  A female bison will usually have a single calf every year from the age of 3 and may continue to do so for 20 or more years.  The gestation period is approximately 280 days and they calve unassisted in late Spring/early summer.  Calves are a reddish brown colour when they are born and are usually up on their wobbly legs very soon after birth and can keep up with the rest of the herd within hours.

 
In comparison to domestic bovines, Bison prefer to consume a more fibrous diet due to a longer down time in the rumen.  Their dietary preferences mean that they can thrive in harsh conditions such as the heather hills around Scotland.  Thousands of years of evolution have produced an animal which is ideally adapted to the seasonal changes of the Northern Hemisphere.  Weight gained in summer is utilised through winter and this along with a slowing of their metabolism reduces the need for large volumes of winter feed.  The addition of a winter coat helps maintain thermo efficiency and eliminates the need for over wintering indoors.
 
Bison normally communicate by short grunts rather than bellowing or mooing!