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Is all bison meat grass fed and finished?
- Like almost all commercially available meat, bison are usually finished in feedlots and given a grain ration to increase marbling and carcass weight. Unless you can find bison in the supermarket labeled "100% grass-fed" or "grass-finished" the animal was likely grain-finished in a feedlot.
- Just like beef, once a bison is finished on grain the nutritional profile of the meat changes. Within 30 days at a feedlot, the beneficial levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and CLA decrease drastically. (see our writeup on the benefits of choosing grass-fed, grass-finished meat here)
Besides nutrition, why should I care about bison being in feedlots?
- Bison are hundreds (in some cases thousands!) of years behind cattle in terms of domestication. They are up to a thousand times more susceptible to common diseases than cattle, and this is amplified in confinement. Crowding, changes in herd dynamics, changes in feed, and transport result in stressed out bison; and when they're stressed they get sick.
- Bison that are finished on grass is good for the environment. Creating healthy pasture systems through managed grazing creates grass and root systems that actually sequester carbon from the atmosphere in the soil. This is in addition to helping restore broken water cycles and providing habitat for other wildlife species. These benefits are part of the reason organizations like the Audubon Society have a certification which endorses ranches.