By Kristin evenrude
The Oneota Co-op is home to two bison producers! Bison, often mistakenly referred to as buffalo almost became extinct at the end of the 19th century. Thanks to the dedication of a few environmentally minded individuals bison numbers have been restored to about 350,000 today. The co-op is happy to represent and sell Blake Family Farm and Bear Hollow Bison products.
Blake Family Farms is operated by brothers Francis Blake and John Blake. The farm has been in the family since 1959 and has been certified organic since 1994 and is located outside of Waukon, IA.
They maintain a core herd of 7 cows and allow the young bison to nurse for a year. The bison are raised on pasture year round and are supplemented organic hay during the winter months.
Bear Hollow is owned and operated by Justin Grove, his father Rick and brother Adam. They have been together on Bear Hollow for 10 years and the farm is located outside of Monona, IA. The Groves have 25 cows in their herd and maintain total herd size at about 60 bison. Their animals are on pasture up until the last 3 months,when Groves supplement the bison diet with whole shell corn and hay.
Both of our energetic and dedicated producers are raising Plains Bison. These magestic animals average 5’ and weigh around 1,200 pounds. The benefit to you, the consumer, is bison meat is lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories than beef, pork and even skinless chicken. Since bison are more resistant to disease than cattle there is no need for antibiotic feed. Bison is also higher in iron and vitamin B12 than beef. Despite all these differences, bison is very similar to beef in flavor and texture. Most people will tell you that bison has a slightly sweeter and richer flavor. Also, bison is almost completely non allergenic, meaning people having allergies to bison are almost completely unheard of.
You can find ground bison, roasts, stew meat, and tenderloins here in the co-op meat freezer!