Marketing Bison as a Healthier Red Meat Alternative

Project Overview

FNC06-602
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $5,985.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat

Practices

  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-restaurant, market study, marketing management

    Summary:

    PROJECT BACKGROUND
    One-hundred acre farm which is used primarily for the production of hay. Our 40 head of bison are now grass-fed. We do grow some corn / soybeans as a cash crop.

    I was using a multiple area grazing practice, [before receiving this grant], and have added another pasture area.

    GOALS
    1. Increase consumer knowledge with bison
    2. Develop marketing to area restaurants / stores
    3. Utilize marginal land to produce bison

    PROCESS
    1. When our schedule is free, we set up at our county Farmers Market. We are able to speak to countless potential customers. We also encourage people to visit the farm to see where their food comes from.

    2. Our local restaurant now features bison burgers on their daily menu. Table tents explain the nutritional benefits.

    3. Our bison are not 100 percent grass-fed. This year we will raise our own non-GMO corn to use as a corn stock feed.

    PEOPLE
    • Eagle Graphics – Don Cochran
    • Matt and Rachel Sterling – Kathy’s Korner Restaurant
    Kathy’s Korner Restaurant
    100 W. Fremont St.
    Arcadia, Ohio 44804
    http://kathyskornerarcadia.com
    Phone: 419-894-6466
    Matt: 419-806-9828
    Rachel: 419-957-5661
    • Dave Thomas – Coordinator for the Hancock County Farmers Market

    RESULTS
    We learned that the demand for bison in our area is greater than what we can supply. Our original intentions were to expand our herd, but economic changes have halted the purchase of additional breeding cows. We are able to maintain our present level without going outside our farm for feed.

    We have had 4-H groups and other various youth groups visit the farm. Several assisted living facilities drive their vans through our drive to view the bison.

    Health issues in 2007 also played a huge part in the expansion of our business. We are now able to expand it as the economy changes.

    OUTREACH
    Participating in our county Farmers market was our first step in communicating with the community. I am primarily a commercial beekeeper, running 1,000 – 1,500 hives per season for pollination. When two surgeries in 2007 happened, I almost lost everything, including the bison. It has taken three years to regain my financial stability, but I am constantly fighting to keep my bees healthy and alive. I was able to maintain my [bison] herd but never went beyond the market and our local restaurant.

    PROGRAM EVALUATION
    Excellent opportunity for farmers to explore new ideas. Writing the grant was time consuming but helpful when setting goals / objectives. We appreciate the extra time we were allotted to file our report.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.