The foundation of our mission is preserving the Great Plains ecosystem by returning buffalo back to their native homeland. In 1997, Wild Idea Buffalo Company was founded to pursue this mission and to offer an alternative to the industrialized food system. The idea was simple: supply delicious, healthy, 100% grass-fed meat to consumers interested in sustainability.
Preserving and restoring the Great Plains grasslands is the foundation of the Wild Idea Buffalo Company. In 1997, in an effort to restore his battered 1,000-acre ranch back to health, Dan O’Brien returned bison, North America’s largest herbivore, to the native rangeland of his ranch. Dan’s holistic management approaches, along with the bison’s ability to regenerate and nurture the soil naturally, have revitalized damaged prairies. Now grasses, sedges, forbs, and flowers flourish, and once again contribute to a sustainable eco-system for indigenous creatures. This healthy landscape provides habitat for hundreds of species and produces a delicious, healthy, byproduct; a 100% grass-fed meat alternative for people who care about health, sustainability, and preservation.
But there is much more work left to be done. Our grasslands remain under siege and need continued attention and help. Unfortunately, industrialized agriculture continues to plow up native prairies, turning them into grain fields producing food for confined feeding operations (CFO). Intact prairie eco-systems containing a plethora of species are being turned into vast monocultures, releasing into the atmosphere millions of tons of carbon that were safely stored underground for eons. In addition to being one of the major contributors to global warming, the consequences of these farming practices have meant the destruction of hundreds of species and literally billions of individual plants and animals. The end result is unhealthy food for humans and an impoverished ecosystem for us all.
Today it is difficult to eat with a clear conscience, and it has become our responsibility to know where our food comes from, and how it was raised. Wild Idea’s founding principles and environmental commitment are stronger than ever. By aligning our actions with nature, we are able to restore the health of the prairies, respectfully care for the animals and keep carbon safely stored underground, while providing a healthy, 100% grass-fed alternative meat source, that can be consumed with a clear conscience.
Some people describe where we live as “the middle of nowhere.” We prefer to say “like nowhere on earth.” The Wild Idea ranches are located in South Dakota between the beautiful Black Hills and the breathtaking Badlands National Park.
The 34,000-acre Cheyenne River Ranch, home to Dan and Jill O’Brien, winds along the Cheyenne River and borders the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and Pine Ridge Reservation. The 32,000-acre Conata Basin Ranch, managed by Doug Albertson, sits on the edge of the Conata Basin, with beautiful vistas of the Badlands National Park.
Wild Idea Buffalo Company is affiliated with other like-minded ranchers including Tribal herds, Native American ranchers, and the Nature Conservancy. From a 1,000-acre beginning we are now positively impacting over 200,000 acres of prairie grassland, and that number is growing. The vision continues and is driven by people like you – people who care about the food they eat and the world we share. Together, one bite at a time, we can make a difference.