Bison Research Priorities

Vern Anderson and Paul Thomas
Carrington Research Extension Center and North Dakota Buffalo Association


he North Dakota Buffalo Association developed a priority list for bison research when it met on May 8, 2002.  The group evaluated the Canadian document entitled “A Strategic Plan for Research and Development Needs of the Canadian Bison Industry”  (available from the Bison Centre of Excellence, 4301 50th Street, Leduc, AB T9E 7H3, and drew on its own and other regional needs.  Research efforts are needed to develop the best management practices for feeding forage and grain to obtain maximum gain at the lowest cost.  Mineral requirements have not been addressed for bison and research is needed to define upper and lower limits for several different minerals.  Other topics determined to be important were heifer feeding strategies for replacements and for market, effects of forage type and quality on animal performance, parasite control, pre-calving cow nutrition and flushing, weaning time and management, and economic considerations for profitable bison production.  The North Dakota Buffalo Association placed a high priority on securing a bison extension specialist from NDSU in the near future.

A multi-state bison work group including individuals from Black Hills State University, South Dakota State University, North Dakota State University, Native American Tribes and Tribal colleges, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and private bison ranchers has met twice in the past year to determine priorities for research and education in the bison industry.  The effects of consuming bison meat on human health, including diabetes abatement, emerged as a high priority. Preliminary trials with rats will be required before substantial funding for using human subjects in these studies can be conducted.  Other projects identified by this group include ecological evaluations of range and pastures with bison, lowering stress during bison handling, effects of different pre-slaughter handling practices, nutrient capture from different forages, and health challenges to bison.


NDSU Vice President,
Dean and Director for Agricultural Affairs
NDSU Extension Service ND Agricultural
Experiment Station
NDSU College of Agriculture NDSU College of Human Development and Education