Bison are BIG Eaters

3 min Video 

The Preserve’s Wood Bison herd eats a lot of food! They’re fed pellets and hay on a regular basis, but in summer they also graze through their38 acre habitat.

Animal Care Staff feed the Bison two buckets of pellets every day once a day. Bison can run pretty quickly – up to 55km/hr – so our Animal Care Staff are always careful when they enter the habitat. If the Bison are ever too close to the gate for staff to go in and place the feed they might choose to feed them later in the day or use the habitat’s other gate. That gate is located on the other side of the habitat and provides a second safe option.

The pellets are poured out into two rows – far enough apart so that the Bison can walk in between without feeling crowded. Crowding leads to competitive behaviours which can leave some Bison hungry.

 

Photo by Lindsay Caskenette.

Randy, the Preserve’s Outdoor Operations Manager, will bring two bales of hay in for the Bison. This happens every 10-14 days depending on the time of year. Using a CAT 506 loader he carries two 2000lb / 900kg bales at a time. Once inside the habitat he places the bales and then cuts and removes the twine holding them together. Just like with the pellets he will spread the hay around. If he leaves it in one spot, they’ll fight over it.

Of course Bison need to drink too! In the winter, they just eat snow. This is typical for northern animals like Bison when all liquid water is frozen for months on end. Finally, as spring comes around, the days get longer and the nights warm up, the Preserve brings its water system online. Automatic waterers remain full of fresh, clean water and the Bison come over and drink from that.

Feeding times are an important time for Animal Care staff to monitor the health and well being of the animals. Bree watches them to eat. She’s watching to see if they’re limping or if they have any obvious wounds. And of course making sure that the babies are all doing well.

Bree Parker

Bree Parker

Animal Care Assistant

All animal lover to her very core! Bree has had a menagerie of pets over the years, including mice, crayfish and a hedgehog. After completing her Environmental Technician diploma at Seneca College, she realized her true calling was with animals, sending her back to Ontario this coming fall for University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus’s Veterinary Technology program. Bree is always eager to learn new facts about the animals at the Preserve that she can share with visitors.

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