Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Management-Intensive Grazing With Bison

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Vermejo Park Ranch has discovered that it is home to mountain bison, a species of the American bison that is very rare.  Photo Courtesy of

I was lucky enough to visit Mark Kossler when he was the manager of Turner Enterprises’ Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico. The ranch was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. There was the natural beauty, and the beauty of how the ranch was managed, and the beauty of the mountain bison that live there. I also had the rare privilege of interviewing Mark about his work with bison. Mark is a great observer and his curiosity drives him to try things, and to run small experiments so that he can decide if one thing works better than another.

One of the things Mark talked about during our visit was what happened when he tried Management-Intensive Grazing on irrigated pasture with bison. In this video he talks about the differences he found between how cattle and bison behave in this kind of system, how the shape of the pasture affected whether or not the bison stayed in them, and how many young bull bison he could run per acre. Using his lessons learned, you too can do this with bison, and hopefully achieve the same kinds of gains he did, at 2.5 pounds per day.

Don’t have bison? It’s worth watching the video just to see how someone pays attention to what’s going on in his grazing system and with his animals.

Here’s the link for our tablet readers.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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