You'd like to get into the buffalo business, but you're a
little hesitant because you're not all that acquainted with the management of buffalo.
This brochure will briefly address some of the 'high points,' and is meant only as an
introduction to this complex subject. To further your education we strongly recommend two
things: First, join the North Dakota Buffalo Association.
Second, visit with (preferably in person) as many established buffalo producers as
This is a good time to get into the business because the future of buffalo - of the whole
buffalo industry from ranching to meat to byproducts - seems very bullish. There is a
strong demand for buffalo meat and byproducts (more than the industry can supply)
Experts predict that this will remain so
into the foreseeable future. And, since the buffalo industry is still in its pioneer
phase, the potential is virtually untapped. Supported with highest quality hired tools, the sky is a limit.
As in marketing any commodity, much depends on advertising to get the buyers and sellers
together. When advertising buffalo meat, there is no lack of information which can be
cited to educate potential buyers to the many advantages of this product. Buffalo meat is
considered superior to other meats. It is significantly higher in protein and lower in
fat, cholesterol and calories than most other meats, including poultry and some kinds of
fish. Buffalo meat fits the dietary recommendations of the American Heart Association, and
is now being prescribed by physicians to heart patients and others who must limit their
cholesterol intake. It is accepted as a 'diet food' by several nationally recognized
weight-loss programs. All this and it tastes good too! Some folks say it tastes like beef
wished it did - hearty, sweet and rich, with no gamey taste at all. If prepared properly,
it's as tender as the tenderest beef available.
Tasty, tender and nearly fat free: it sounds almost too good to be true,
but there's still more. No one, to date, has had an allergic reaction to
buffalo meat, including people who suffer from allergies to other meats.
We're not sure why, but we suspect it may be that buffalo are
'organically' raised. They are not subjected to questionable chemicals,
drugs and hormones, and are not force-fed in high density pens. These
differences make this product very attractive to the increasingly
health-conscious American population.
Because they are more hardy,
they have less illness, veterinary expenses and death loss. They also utilize their feed
more efficiently and have a reproductive life that is 3 to 4 times that of cattle.
Although buffalo will also utilize marginal range that would starve cattle, we recommend
that you give them the best you have available because that's the only way you'll be able
to raise a superior product.
The strongest demand today is
for breeding animals. The prices being paid for calves (which are the breeders and feeders
of the future) and breeding age females underscores the expected confidence in the future
of buffalo meat. For the past decade the demand for buffalo has exceeded the supply. As
the demand for lean meat continues to grow, likewise the demand for buffalo will keep
increasing for years to come.
The buffalo rancher who studies the market and advertises his product should have no
difficulty in getting good prices for his live buffalo, as well as for meat and
byproducts. The end product is, of course, meat. Buffalo meat prices have always exceeded
beef prices by at least 10%, but that picture has been gradually improving in recent years
as public awareness and acceptance of the product has increased.
By conducting several national market tests in recent years, the National Bison
Association has learned that the strongest markets, and the willingness to pay the highest
prices, were in the northeast and west. This is not too surprising, since a high
percentage of our health-conscious population with large disposable incomes is
concentrated in these two areas.
Few producers can ever expect to supply grocery stores with volume quantities of buffalo
meat - the supply simply is not there, and won't be in our lifetime. Though buffalo meat
does show up in major grocery chains from time to time in select locations, the period of
availability is usually sporadic, and the supply is always limited. This is because most
producers still shy away from chain store marketing in favor of concentrating on the more
lucrative specialty market. Specialty markets include health food stores, weight loss
groups, delicatessans, gourmet shops, restaurants, health-care professionals (such as
dieticians) and sales right to the consumer. Direct, specialty marketing takes some time
and imagination, but the financial rewards can be remarkable since you, in essence,
control the market for your product.
The benefits of gaining market control for your production are many, but it does take work
to become a public relations specialist. It isn't as difficult as it sounds, however,
because of the 'romance' surrounding the subject of buffalo. Your local media will usually
help keep your operation, and therefore your product, before the public eye with feature
articles and human interest stories about your buffalo.
The American Heart Association, National Cancer Society and other respected health
'authorities' recommend dietary changes which buffalo meat fits like a glove. Once you
target your market segment and then educate them with the facts, the product nearly sells
With our relatively limited supplies, even under the most ideal
conditions it is unlikely that there will ever be enough buffalo meat to
go around. There is little fear of buffalo meat flooding the market.
acceptance increases the demand for breeding stock, the meat will continue strong on into
the foreseeable future.
Contact a producer for Buffalo