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Last Updated:[30-12-2010 08:14:39 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Bison Meat Witnesses Enormous Growth in North America

tradenews Bison meat seemed to be the first choice of many cattle farmers and consumers alike in North America these days. The farmers find it attractive since rearing bison is of low maintenance as compared to other livestock for meat, and consumers prefer it due to the palatability and health reasons.

According to the Associated Press, bison, once hunted to near extinction, is giving a hard time to the US ranchers to meet the rapid growth in demand. The total North American herd, which includes animals in state and national parks, is estimated at 450,000, compared to fewer than 1,000 a little over a century ago.

The statistics indicate the tight supply comes after bison meat became popular as farmers aggressively marketed the product with claims of the health benefits of the low-fat, low-cholesterol meat for about a decade.

Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association in Westminster, Colorado said that the majestic beasts required little maintenance, but grew slower than other livestock, and a heifer could not have her first calf until it reached three years old. While cows could have calves at two years old, and many producers were finding heifers more valuable for breeding than eating, which meant fewer bison going to market — at least temporarily, he said.

Ed Eichten, one who runs a family farm in the US said that though the bison were easy to maintain it was tough to keep them fenced, and should watch over them with vehicles as they could clock 40 miles an hour (64 km/h).

In a response to the AP feature, Peter H, a ranger with 17 years in bison meat trade from Alberta, Canada stated the awareness of the health benefits of the meat had increased demand not only in North America, but in Europe and the Middle East (Dubai, the UAE). He said that bison meat had additional benefit such as never been found to have BSE (Mad Cow) because this disease was spread by feeding animal by-products to cattle, but bison were fed with a 100 percent vegetable diet.

Some of the bison meat eaters find the meat is more sumptuous than beef, and is best when barbequed. Since it’s so lean, chefs say preparing it properly requires slower cooking over lower heat than beef.

Carter told while the retail prices vary, ground bison was sold for about $15/kg, compared to a little over $10 a year ago. According to the association, about 92,000 bison were processed last year in North America i.e., less than one day’s beef production in the US alone.

By Jose Roy

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