The Art of Artisan Meat Production

A few weeks ago we sent out a blog post on our humane field harvest, which is where our production process begins.

Field Harvest

From that point, there are many more steps to getting our products to you that involve our talented meat cutters and specialty processors. Because we want you to know where your meat comes from and how it is handled, here's a view into what happens within our production walls. These photos are not staged shots (no time for that), but real Wild Idea artisan butchers busy at their jobs. 

Wild idea Buffalo Co. Meat Cutters

Our butchers receive and inspect the carcasses upon arrival at our Wild Idea Processing Plant in Rapid City, South Dakota. The carcasses will hang for five to seven days before they are portion cut. This enables enzyme reactions in the carcassallowing the muscles to relax and improving the tenderness and flavor profile of the meat.

Our plant undergoes a pre-op sanitation and inspection prior to production beginning. Everything must be spic and span!

Meat Plant

Here a couple of our butchers are dressed in appropriate gear for the big job ahead (slight "poser" shot). In addition to metal mesh guards and protective wrist sleeves, you will also notice that stocking caps and hoodies are often worn as each room is temperature controlled between 30 and 40 degrees. 


The carcass halves are broken down into three sections: the fronts (chucks), the middle (ribs), and the hinds (the round). 

Meat Cutters

From here the work literally starts to pile up....

... and up.

Meat Cutters

Focus is critical, dealing with heavy slabs of meat, saws and sharp knives. 

Meat Cutter

Bison Meat Plant

After careful cutting and trimming, the whole muscles are transformed into fine cuts. 

Meat Processing

Each cut is hand weighed for accuracy.

Steak Cuts

From here the items are sent to packaging, where they are inspected and receive any final trimming if needed.

PackagingOddly shaped items are individually hand-packaged and vacuum-sealed, often one or two packages at a time. 

For more uniform products, we are able to use a semi-automated vacuum seal machine, with each item being inspected pre and post packaging. 

VAcume packaging

Bison STeaks

Each package is hand labeled and inventoried before being boxed. 

Our gourmet line of Artisan Burgers are pre-seasoned and hand crafted.

Gourmet Buffalo Burgers

And, we also make our own in-house artisan sausages, charcuterie and jerky.

Sausage making

Any products that require smoking are processed in-house too. 

Smoke Meats

The end of the day requires a thorough cleaning, with every piece of equipment carefully taken apart, washed and oiled.  

Our process is much slower than the large factory systems where speed is insisted upon. Safety, sanitation and quality are king at our small plant. And much like the old school butcheries, we have put the "art" back into "artisan butchery." This craft takes dedicated people who care greatly about the end product and are happy to show up the next day to start the process all over again.

A big thank you to our customers for caring about where your food comes from and how it is produced. And, for giving us the opportunity to provide quality jobs within our community. We couldn't do it and wouldn't be here without you!

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  • Robert, Thank you for your interest. We harvest year around, however some products sell out quickly. Inventory is typically updated every Friday.

    Jill OBrien
  • Are all the products available year round? Or is there a schedule to when you buthcher?

    Thank you

    Robert Hallisey
  • Its nice to see that the art of meat cutting is still alive, also very clean. Work place. Thank You

    Darryl lewis
  • What a nice facility, and products look awsome.

    Joe larsen
  • Great job . Love to try

    Terry wheeler
  • Glad to know our Atlanta Falcons are represented by one of your butchers . Thanks . We need all the help we can get…

    Gary Gottlieb
  • What happens to the ofal and how much waste do you have per carcass

    Jaime A Harris
  • You guys do fantastic work!

  • I would to get a big chunk of Buffalo meat. How can I get a side of it?

  • Thanks for sharing this. I always admired the butchers from my youth (best pork chops and cuts came from a tiny place in western NoDak). I can say the same for your crew – their product is excellent!

    Susan Will
  • Thank you for the post. Interesting and informative. It’s also nice to sort of met some of the Wild Idea team and find out more about it. I look forward to a visit one day, especially to see the prairies and buffalo. Thank you.

    Cheves Leland
  • I am continually impressed by your integrity. I feel deeply touched that you have let us into this part of the process that is so often shrouded in brutal mystery.
    My most sincere thank you.

    P. Wefald
  • John: We have to disagree on the dirty and nasty part. Indeed they are big, but if you have ever been in a natural herd where the buffalo are allowed to be buffalo and have a lot of room to roam, other than their size, the other two main things that will also stand out are: 1) They do not smell. 2) They are not aggressive unless you threaten them, startle them or confine them.

    jill / Wild Idea Buffalo Co.
  • Jill and Dan, do you remember that Simple Living TV interview in MT at the Flying D Ranch many years ago? You two have certainly succeeded in ways far beyond your dreams of many years ago. You earned your success and brought a superior, healthy product to market while honoring the animal and helping the rural economy and your neighbors in South Dakota. My thanks to you, your staff, the buffalo and those gorgeous, grassy prairies! And thanks to my friend Eric for sending me my introduction to you with Buffalo for the Broken Heart! I’m keeping the introductions going by sending books and buffalo to friends and family. Best wishes and thanks!

    Kathy Treanor
  • We were talking about buffaloes at school today, an instructor was saying how big dirty and nasty they were. His son in law raises them. I agreed and told him that they still make my mouth water, when I see them.

    John Patterson

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