Bison Advantage Workshop set for Nov. 18-19
Interest in the bison industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Increased demand for bison meat has fueled a need to expand the herd and increase production numbers. Existing bison producers are being encouraged to expand their herds, while anyone who has ever had a spark of interest in raising bison is being encouraged to take the bull by the horns and take that step into the world of bison production.
As a way of assisting those looking to expand and/or get into the business, several state and regional associations have partnered up with the National Bison Association to host the second annual Bison Advantage Workshop Nov. 18-19 in Custer State Park and at the 777 Ranch in western South Dakota.
The idea behind these workshops is to provide information and resources for those producers looking to take their operation to the next level and to encourage and mentor those looking to enter the industry for the first time. Speakers with experience in a variety of areas will present information that covers a wide range of topics, including herd selection and management, herd health and nutrition, feeding, marketing and everything in between. A special emphasis this year will be on financing a new or expanding operation and using sound fiscal practices to keep your existing operation on the right track.
“The growing consumer demand for buffalo meat is creating a critical need for expanding the herds of bison for commercial production,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “This workshop will have practical, hands-on information for anyone wanting to be a part of this growing sector of agriculture.”
The event kicks off on Nov. 18 with a social at the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park from 6-10 p.m. On Friday, Nov. 19, the workshop gets underway with a full slate of speakers throughout the morning. One big plus about these workshops is the number of existing bison producers that will be in attendance and welcome the opportunity to share their experiences and insight with anyone who wants to learn. There will be plenty of opportunity to network and visit individually with producers from all facets of the industry.
On Friday afternoon, attendees will have the opportunity to head out to the nearby 777 Ranch for a live animal handling demonstration. Ranch owner Mimi Hillenbrand and Manager Dave Schroth are ready to run some animals through the working facilities and answer questions about their herd and operation. The stark beauty of the ranch will be a real treat for those from outside the region. Nestled at the west edge of the Badlands, the ranch is a showcase for the native bison and the Holistic Management practices that are used to manage both the animals and the land on the ranch.
Friday evening will be an optional Buffalo Ribeye dinner. Attendees will be able to enjoy an evening meal and continue to network and ask questions from many of the day’s presenters. Following the meal, Custer State Park Herd Manager Chad Kremer, will give a presentation on the park’s buffalo auction being held on Saturday morning. By hosting this workshop in conjunction with the park’s auction, organizers believe it would provide a great opportunity for anyone interested to purchase animals or watch their first bison auction. It was a natural fit for the two events to tie together.
The Friday workshop is free of charge to attendees, with a continental breakfast and buffalo burger lunch being provided. Bussing to and from the 777 Ranch will also be provided for all attendees. The Friday evening ribeye dinner is optional and is $40 per person to attend. The Custer State Park auction presentation on Friday evening is open to anyone interested in attending.
Pre-registration is required for both the workshop and the Friday evening meal so that meals, workshop materials and transportation will be available to all attendees. All workshop information and registration forms are available on the Bison Advantage Web site at http://www.bisonadvantage.com. Additionally, a registration packet will be mailed early next week inside the Custer State Park Buffalo Auction flyer. You may contact the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association at 605-923-6383 or Karen Conley at 605-381-3738 for information.
Registration forms must be postmarked or faxed to 605-923-5154 by Wednesday, Nov. 10 to guarantee a spot in the workshop. Walk-ins are welcome, but workshop materials and meals cannot be guaranteed unless you pre-register.
Custer State Park Resort Company in the park is the host for accommodations. To reserve a room, please call them at 1-888-875-0001 and reference the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association group. Alternate lodging is available in nearby Custer, SD. Please contact the Custer Chamber of Commerce at 605-673-2244 for details on available hotels in the area.
The workshop is a joint effort between the National Bison Association, Dakota Territory Buffalo Association, Rocky Mountain Buffalo Association and the North Dakota Buffalo Association.
Many livestock producers are utilizing stockpiled pasture, hay regrowth and warm- or cool-season annuals to extend the grazing season this fall.