We have continued our fermented forage experiments through 2019-2020. This year we added bison as one of our sample species. Bison are naturally lean and generally have very little marbling. One of our objectives is to see if the fermented forage will add marbling to the bison meat as it did to the beef. We also have some more beef steers with the bison to keep them company. According to our resident bison expert, they are calmer when there are a few beef steers with them.
We are not weighing the animals like we did last year as we don't really need the weight data. We will gauge rate of growth based on slaughter weight and hanging weight as compared to the animals from the previous test. From a visual size perspective, our animals are ahead of their counterparts at nearby farms that have not had the fermented forage.
One of the observations we made with our 2019 steers was their docile nature as compared to control herds. We have seen similar responses with the bison as well. They are still more skittish that the steers, but we can actually hand feed some of them (or at least Joziah can), which is very unusual in the bison community. They won't eat from his hand if he just has plain alfalfa, but several of them will eat from his hand when given the fermented alfalfa. They really like it! Some of Joziah's fellow bison ranchers don't believe it even happens, so here is a video to prove it!
The beef steers reached their slaughter weight of around 1250 lbs between 15-18 months, well below the industry average of 18-24. The beef hanging weight average (over 6 animals) was 781 lbs.
The bison also reached slaughter weight earlier than average. They went to the butcher at 18-20 months, while most industry animals are 20-23 months. The bison slaughter weight average (over 4 animals) was 534 lbs.
The quality of the beef was consistent with last year, in both flavor and grade. The quality of the bison was unbelievable. The bison was as mild as the beef and some people couldn't even tell the difference. It was also tender, juicy, and had a much better fat content than standard bison.
The pictures here show two bison samples. The first sample is grass-fed bison, with no grain. The second example is our fermented forage bison, also with no grain.
We also compared our beef steaks with some very expensive Wagyu beef. Our fermented forage steak looks just as good as the Wagyu, for a lot less money!
The Wagyu cattle are fed large quantities of grain in order to get the fat content and marbling they do. Our cattle receive no grain, only fermented forage (grass, alfalfa and cover crops). Our results continue to show the benefits of fermented forage for meat animals.
If you are interested in our fermented forage programs for your animals, call us at 435-753-2086 and we can help you get started.
If you want to see the details from last year's animals, take a look at this article.
For those in Northern Utah or Southern Idaho who are interested in purchasing some of the meat from this year's harvest, check out our options at the BMT Research Farms web site.