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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Management of an American bison herd

INRA Prod. Anim., 9 (5), 379-388.


1INRA Laboratoire Adaptation des Herbivores aux Milieux, Theix 63122 St Genès Champanelle 

1INRA Domaine des Razats, 63850 Laqueuille



The development of bison farming is attracting a growing amount of interest in Europe. Bison are farmed essentially for meat production and for their tourist attraction potential. The amount of bison meat produced globally is currently very low. The French production has been largely developed from imported animals. The bison can be adapted to French farming conditions, even in small farms. The animals do not become aggressive unless they are unduly restrained. Their dietary requirements are very similar to those of cattle under similar conditions. Although the females may give birth throughout the year, the animals tend to be seasonal. Calving occurs primarily in May and breeding in August. Young females can begin to reproduce at 2 years of age and can be bred annually. The pregnancy length is 270 days. The birth weight of the young calves is 25 kg for females and 30 kg for males. The maternal milk production is such that the young gain about 600g per day until they are weaned at an age of around 7 months. Adult weight (450-500 kg for females, 700-800 kg for males) is reached quite late (>7 years). The relationship between the average amount of intake and the weight gain over the long term is quite similar to that of hardy beef breeds. The growth rate and amount of feed ingested in the young have seasonal variations and are affected by the day length. In France, the most attractive feature of bison farming is his ability to produce a very red meat with a quite good yield (around 57 %). Before slaughter, the males are fattened with a concentrated diet that enables them to gain 800 g/d. In order to produce the 250-300 kg carcasses required for marketing, the animals should be slaughtered between 2.5 and 3 years of age.

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