Animal Husbandry & Humane Harvest
In the summer and early fall, the herd comes together for the breeding season. Nine months later, in the spring, the prairie welcomes its newest generation of prairie regenerators. It may seem counterintuitive to harvest animals when you are trying to bring them back, but harvesting is necessary to balance the herd numbers with what the land can support. But slowly, with regenerative practices and additional land acquisition our herd numbers are growing.
As many of you know, we are large landscape bison ranchers that are working hard to protect a threatened ecosystem. Returning the American Buffalo back to their homeland is critical in keeping the prairie ecosystem whole.
We allow our buffalo the room they require to roam and be and behave as they did hundreds of years ago. We give them love in life and dignity in death. When harvesting animals, we insist on a Humane Field Harvest. Our moveable harvest trailer allows us to travel to the buffalo and harvest in the pastures where they graze. We work with other like minded ranchers who are aligned with our ranching model. We currently harvest on buffalo ranches in South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming & Montana. This past week we harvested at Mustang Meadows, the largest Native owned buffalo herd, on the Rosebud Reservation.
Our Field Harvest requires a separate crew and special equipment. This is more costly, but we believe it is the only way to take an animal for food. This series of photos illustrates our process. The crew arrives early to set-up what they were not able to do the night before. Thereafter, they smudge with sage, a Native tradition that we have adopted, to purify their hands and rifle.
Our sharp shooter then proceeds out to the herd, accompanied by a state or federal inspector, and puts the buffalo down where it is grazing. It is then bled on the prairie, returning nutrients back into the earth.From there, the carcass is transported to the harvest trailer where it is skinned and eviscerated. This is a very physical job. Like the rest of the country, we too are currently having a tough time filling positions. But that doesn't mean we cut corners. Nope, we would never do that. That's when we put on a different hat, roll up our sleeves and do the work. In this instance, Colton Jones has stepped in to assist Bryan and Alex, our lead crew members on our harvest team. The hides that are removed, get salted and are transported to a tannery. Those hides will eventually be turned into Patagonia Wild Idea Work Boots. We use as much of the carcass as we can and that we have inspected approval for, with the equipment we have. The carcasses are halved and slid into the cooling unit on the harvest trailer. The cooler can hold up to 40 carcasses, which is what allows us to travel out of state. The carcasses are transported back to our plant in Rapid City. They are unloaded into coolers at the plant and hang until the following week. Our plant crew, staffed with artisan meat cutters take it from there. The carcasses are broken down into roasts, steaks, ground and other cuts. With our vertically integrated business, we are able to control the whole process from prairie to package. It's something we are very proud of and couldn't do without our dedicated staff.We always want to be 100% transparent with you and share our story and show you where the buffalo meat you purchase from us comes from and how it is raised. We are the only meat company that has such control over the entire production process, ensuring that you the customer, receives a healthy, red meat product that you can feel good about consuming.
And, we thank you for caring about your food choices.