Bison, Spring's Shaggy Beasts

When our bison herd comes off the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in March they are fat and wooly, and just starting to show signs of shedding their winter coats. 
Large American Bison Bull on the Prairie
In this close-up photo below, look carefully at the bulls face. Do you see how the fur on his face looks like a mask? If not, look closer at the more faded brown fur above the nose and around the eyes. This, along with his shaggy mop on top will soon shed off as the new growth below comes in. 
Bison Bull Head Shot Early Spring
The mask is even more defined in the photo of the cow with her calf. The density of their coats protect them through harsh prairie winters, where temperatures can get to minus forty degrees. Comparatively, cattle need shelter or assistance at zero degrees.
Bison Cow Shedding Winter Coat
This two year old buffalo bull is shedding out in dreadlock style... Rumor has it that his favorite musician is the late Bob Marley! 
Bison on Spring Prairie Shedding Bison Wool
And often, we will find big pieces of fur scattered across the prairie, almost as if they dropped their cape/coat. 
Bison Yealing Shedding its Bison Wool
In addition to being able to withstand the harsh seasonal temperatures, bison are also very agile, and can completely fold their neck to scratch an itch, lick away fur, or shoo flies away.  They can also use their back hoof to scratch their head. 
Bison cow Shedding it Fur in Spring
The American Buffalo evolved on these prairie grasslands, to not just survive, but to thrive - winter, spring, summer and fall. 
Bison Bull on the Great Plains Prairies Shedding it Wool
Although bison naturally molt, they will also help the process along by rubbing up against things, or rolling in wallows. Rolling in wallows also aids in keeping insects off, as well as scenting themselves after urinating in the wallow before they roll, a perfume of sorts... 
American buffalo cow Shedding Winter Fur in Springtime
In an effort to use as much of the animal as possible, most of our hides go to Patagonia for the making of Wild Idea work boots. 
Bison Wool Close Up
Although we continue to look for ways to use the bison wool, it does not go to waste, it is used by nature, specifically as a building material for bird nests. 
Birds Nest with Bison Fur in It
It is also used for goofing around! Pictured below adorable grandsons, Lincoln & Barrett. 
Kids Goofing Around with Bison Fur
Bison are one of the keystone species of the American Great Plains and require room to roam.
Bison Herd on Spring Prairie Grasslands
Our large landscape grazing model does just that, with over 34,000 acres collectively to roam. When given the space they can travel ten to fifteen miles a day, or more as necessary. 
Bison bull During the Rut on the Prairie
Bison are the largest mammal on North America, with mature bison bulls weighing up to 2,400 pounds and measuring 7 feet high at the hump. Even at this size, they can run up to 35 miles per hour!  Mature bison cows are about half the weight of a bull, weighing up to 1,200 and measuring 5 feet high at the shoulder. They too can run as fast as the males.
Bison Cow in Late Spring on the Praire
By late summer, the buffalo have regrown much of their wool, which will continue to get thicker. Sometime in mid winter, their hair follicles start to open, and the process starts all over again in preparation for their lighter summer attire.  
Bison Bull & Cow during the Rut on Prairie Grasslands
As always, we thank you for supporting our mission of regenerating the prairie grasslands while improving our environment and our food supply by bringing back the buffalo. 


  • Posted on by Mark

    Love the blogs on these great animals! My family enjoys your products and I also love my Patagonia work boots; they are pretty special! Thank you for all you do to help regenerate the Prarie and to keep us informed.

  • Posted on by Lonnie King

    Aloha Jill:

    Wonderful photo essay! Many Thanks.

    Fun to see that Dan‚Äôs ‚ÄúFluffy Cows‚ÄĚ are at time not quite so fluffy.

    Lonnie King

  • Posted on by barry j skrobot

    loved the pictures of shedding bison any chance of another calendar?

  • Posted on by judith
    I am surprised spinners and weavers in your area are not beating down your doors. Granted the wool is badly felted, but run it thru a carding machine, get the roving going and spin it up. Wow. Bet it would make great winter woolies.
  • Posted on by Carol
    Cool photos! Thanks for sharing.

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