Bringing Back the Buffalo Since 1997
Wild Idea Buffalo Company was founded in 1997 by Dan O’Brien.
But Wild Idea didn’t arise from a desire to sell bison meat. Rather, it is rooted in Dan’s decades of work helping to restore the endangered peregrine falcon to the Rocky Mountains in the 1970s and 80s that served as the catalyst for the company. Those efforts granted him a front row seat to the devastating impact of modern industrialized agriculture on our environment and the crucial role keystone species play in restoring damaged ecosystems to health.
It didn’t take long for Dan to connect his experience with the birds and landscape he loved to the buffalo. What began with a small herd of bison and a vision to heal 1,000 acres of battered South Dakota ranchland nearly 30 years ago is today a multigenerational family-owned company working to regenerate over 300,000 acres of grassland, from South Dakota to North Dakota, Nebraska to Montana. Through partnerships with like minded ranchers, Indigenous communities, and conservation organizations, Wild Idea is repairing a broken ecosystem and food system by returning buffalo to the Great Plains.
What Sets Us Apart
We are committed to large-landscape grazing. The American bison is North America’s largest herbivore and a keystone species of the grassland ecosystem. When buffalo are allowed to move freely across great swaths of landscape as they did for millennia, they can feed on native grasses without overgrazing. They gently disturb the earth with their hooves without damaging soil structure essential to native grasses. We model our land and animal management practices on that ancient relationship.
We use only humane field harvest. Just as we give our buffalo the room to roam that they require, we believe in honoring their dignity at harvest. Our humane field-harvest means we only harvest our buffalo on the prairie where they graze. They never see the inside of a trailer or a feedlot, unlike 90% of the buffalo raised for meat in the US.
Our meat is always 100% grass-fed and grass-finished. Wild Idea’s commitment to large-landscape grazing and a humane field harvest means that our buffalo are never fed grain and are never given antibiotics or hormones. From birth to death, 365 days a year, they know only the openness of the plains and the taste of prairie grasses, free of GMOs, herbicides, and pesticides. And because they are never subjected to the stress of transport and confinement, their meat is unaffected by a surge of stress hormones.
Why It Matters
The health of our planet depends on changing the way we feed ourselves. A food system that relies on chemical intervention, monocropping, and animal confinement is a broken one. We believe in empowering people to make better choices about their food, and we provide meat that is not only unparalleled in taste but truly nourishing—for people and for the planet. And that impact reaches beyond the buffalo and the grasses of the Great Plains, to strengthen the connection between us and all living things.