Current Status

Bison 2017… A Solid, Growing Business

The bison business achieved unparalleled strength, stability and profitability in 2016. Sales of bison meat in restaurants and retail stores now tops $350 million a year. Prices that ranchers are receiving from processors and marketers have been pegged at all-time highs for the past six years.

That’s why we like to tout The Bison Advantage.

The American public is embracing deliciously healthy bison meat, because of the advantages it offers in great flavor, nutritional benefits, and environmental sustainability. Federal regulations prohibit the use of artificial growth hormones in bison, and our industry protocols limit antibiotic use to only the amounts needed to treat illnesses in the animals. Because bison are a natural part of the North American ecosystem, bison ranching can be a beneficial to the natural environment.

For bison ranchers—and prospective ranchers—the Bison Advantage refers to many factors.  For a start, bison thrive on native grasses, and are adapted to the climate extremes and the predators of our ecosystem, Consider these factors:

-No artificial shelter (barns, etc.) needed. Bison prefer to be outside, year round, despite the weather.

-Efficient feed utilization, making them economical foragers which do well on most grasses in the United States.

-Long productive lives.

-Primary requirements: Fresh water and adequate nutrition.

-Calving rarely requires human intervention. Bison by and large calve on their own.

-Superior hardiness results in disease resistance, lower input costs, fewer veterinarian visits.

-Bison thrive in most North American landscapes with no ill effects.

-The bison industry enjoys a free enterprise market without excessive intervention.

-Bison demand has consistently grown in double digits for the past six years.

The monthly wholesale bison price report compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture illustrates the stability and profitability of our business.

Five-year price analysis

The monthly wholesale bison price report compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture illustrates the stability and profitability of our business. Five year meat price analysis.

Live animal auction results:
Fall 2016 – Spring 2017 bison auction results.

NBA members have access to current live pricing. Explore different membership options.  

Growth is good.  Strength and stability are even better. Since 2011, the value of slaughter bull carcasses has ranged between $3.85 – $4.85/lb. And, according to a survey conducted among our industry’s major marketers last November, the outlook is optimistic that prices will continue to hold steady in that range. See the survey results here.

The National Bison Association offers a trove of resources to assist producers in developing a viable, sustainable and profitable bison business. Our all-new 2nd Edition Bison Produces’ Handbook is packed with information from 25 different experts on all facets of bison ranching and marketing.

A few years ago, the National Bison Association initiated a Bison 101 online curriculum to introduce prospective producers to the basics of our business. Our in-depth Bison 201 curriculum is providing newcomers and veteran producers alike with new tools for business planning, animal handling, and marketing.

Now, we’ve added the NBA’s 40-minute DVD, The Insiders’ Guide to Bison Handling & Management, as valuable tools that will help newcomers make a smooth transition into our business.

Additionally, we are reaching out to the next generation of producers through our Junior Judging competition at the National Western Stock Show, and through our presence at the National FFA convention each fall. Our new Student Group Membership Program is connecting experience buffalo ranchers with Vo-Ag advisors in a cooperative effort to introduce the next generation of producers into the Bison Advantage.

Today’s growth represents a remarkable comeback for a species that teetered on the brink of extinction little more than a century ago. The decimation of the bison herds in the late 1800’s is a bleak chapter in American history. Herds that numbered more than 30 million when the first European explorers set foot on the American continent were nearly wiped out by the 1880’s. At the turn of the 20th century, fewer than 1,000 bison remained in existence. Today, roughly 400,000 bison now roam the pastures and rangelands across North America, and more than 90 percent of those animals are on private ranches. It’s an amazing story of restoration.

This is a great time to be a part of the bison business, where producers, marketers, customers, chefs, nutritionists and environmentalists all agree: America’s original red meat is good for our health, good for our environment, and absolutely delicious.

If you are interested in becoming part of the emerging, exciting bison business, please contact the NBA.