Blog Entry #1
Welcome to the Turner Bison Exchange blog! Here, we look forward to sharing pertinent news regarding Turner Ranches’ annual bison auction as well as information about our ranch properties and innovative bison management program across the Western U.S.
TURNER RANCHES MISSION: To manage Turner lands in an economically sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner while conserving native species and habitats.
Media mogul, philanthropist and conservationist Ted Turner is the second-largest private landowner in the United States with 2 million acres (1.85 million of which is U.S. ranch land, comprised of 16 ranches spread across six western states, and a herd of approximately 50,000 bison). Ted’s landholdings, managed by Turner Ranches, are diverse in terrain and environment, stretching from the deserts of southern New Mexico to the intermountain regions of Montana and southern Colorado, to the gyp hills of Kansas, the Nebraska Sandhills and the prairies of South Dakota. Bison are present on 15 of these 16 ranches and are productive in each of these disparate environments - a credit to the species’ incredible adaptability!
Attached to our various ranches are conservation projects supporting threatened or endangered species and management projects to help maintain and improve native species and their habitats. Many of these projects are conducted cooperatively with universities, state and federal entities, NGO’s and private companies.
Turner Ranches is currently participating in the following research projects, each of which is helping to further improve our bison management practice:
Bison rumen microbiota – comparing similarities and differences with cattle; and how we can use this information to better understand feeding bison on high starch diets for finishing;
Bison meat quality and characteristics - comparing grain finished bison to grass finished bison;
Fecal glucocorticoids as a measure of energy mobilization in bison – determining how this changes seasonally and how we can incorporate this knowledge into our management;
Performance differences of bison on corn and barley finishing diets;
Bison bull gain performance over time on high starch diets – determining when does gain/carcass quality “peak” for optimum performance and economic return;
Grass finishing bison heifers for market compared to grain finishing – comparing the differences in costs and quality of product;
Low stress handling of bison – determining how to incorporate this into management and the benefits that promote growth and animal welfare;
and Finishing bison in a commercial feed yard – compared to customized ranch feeding facilities that have more space, lower group size, menu ration and lower death loss – the benefits to animal welfare and cost/performance.
We look forward to sharing our experiences within this unique field and thank you for following along with us!
Vice President of Ranch Operations, Turner Enterprises, Inc.