Bison: The other red meat

Bison: The other red meat

Dec 27

American BisonI may be late to the party, but I just found out that American Bison (not to be confused with the Asian water buffalo or the African cape buffalo) come with some special regulations by the USDA.

Because they were endangered for a while — they were hunted aggressively and are naturally sensitive to climate changes — they have to be pasture-fed and cannot receive hormones or antibiotics. According to the USDA’s page on bison, they are usually fed grain in a feedlot for the last 3-4 months of their (relatively short) lives, so I would be concerned about their treatment there. However, with only about 50,000 buffalo killed for meat each year (compared with 125,000 cattle every day), I have a hard time believing there are any overly large and harmful bison feedlot operations.

On the other hand, they are certainly still slaughtered the same way as cattle, though it seems the USDA has developed an “approved” method of shooting them while in a field. This keeps them from getting agitated and being corralled in small metal chutes. Also, assuming the shooter is trained, it should result in a quick death.

As far as health is concerned, buffalo meat is incredibly lean, with fewer calories and less fat than beef, turkey and chicken! Since it’s a niche market, you will find that the meat is more expensive, but if you can catch it on sale, it’s worth a taste.

The bottom line: Bison meat should be pretty happy in general, but it may have been finished on grain in a feedlot. If you’re interested in 100% grass-fed bison, why not check out some of these online sellers? (I am not endorsing, nor was I endorsed by any these sites. They’re just the results of my research.)


  1. Tim

    Winter garden grassing ( sells buffalo. They are not too far from lake meadow naturals.

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