- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) - Pearl City resident LaVerne Fluechtling bartered his way into raising bison: Eight years ago, he traded a couple of Fallow deer bucks for seven bison, and he doesn’t regret the decision.

He now has 17 Wood bison, including five calves called “red dogs.”

“They are a pretty easy animal to deal with,” he said. “They have a good memory. They eat grass, and I give them a bale of hay a week along with some oats.”

Fluechtling raises bison mostly as a hobby. Once in a while, he’ll use the meat or give some to friends, but more farmers are raising bison as their meat is in higher demand. Dave Carter from the National Bison Association said bison are adaptable animals that do better in cold climates - and do really well in Stephenson County.

“Bison need about 1 to 2 acres per animal,” Carter said. “It’s also important to have good, sturdy fencing, but it doesn’t need to look like Alcatraz.”



They need good water, good grass, and a good mix of males and females, Carter said. He suggests rotational grazing.

“To raise healthy bison, you need to raise healthy grass,” he said.

Both Fluechtling and Carter agree that the bison is a low-maintenance animal. There is no de-horning, no branding, and no castration. Bison can live for 20 years. They start calving when they are three years old, and calf every year after.

While some may find it a disadvantage to wait three years for that first calf, calving is a breeze for the farmer, Carter said.

“The female doesn’t want you around,” said Carter. “It’s a good time to go fishing.”

The National Bison Association’s website at bisoncentral.com offers more information on raising bison. Organization leaders can suggest what to look for when buying an animal, and they have workshops and information on bison sales throughout the year.

“There’s bison in every state including Hawaii,” said Carter. “They once roamed this land and almost became extinct. Now there are now 500,000 head.”

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Source: The (Freeport) Journal-Standard,

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Information from: The Journal-Standard, https://www.journalstandard.com/jshome.taf

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