It's twins! Buffalo calves born on Michigan farm
The birth of twin bison is big news in the bison-breeding world. But on July 16, twins were born on a farm in Saranac, Mich., on Thundering Hooves Bison Farm.
Owner Brian Weeks said he thinks one is a male and one is female, but the mom won’t let him get close enough to tell for sure.
Twin births are “very rare,” according to Jim Matheson of the National Bison Association.
“We don’t have statistics, but every year we hear from one or two ranchers that they have had twins,” said Matheson. “It is a sign of good herd health and good pasture quality.”
Biologically, the cow is used to having one calf at a time; so occasionally, when she has had twins, she won’t take care of both calves, Matheson added.
But so far, so good in Saranac.
“The mother’s body won’t accept raising two calves unless she is in really good health,” Weeks said. “They are getting around good on their own, and she seems to want to take care of both of them.”
Weeks has 22 animals in his herd. Six calves were born this year. Births usually take place in May and June, so the twins came later than usual.
Weeks said the mother went out to the pasture and had the first calf.
“She brought it back to show it off, and then she went back out and had the second one,” he said.
Bison calves weigh about 40 pounds at birth. When full grown, a bull weighs in at 2,500, and a cow at 900 to 1,100 pounds.
Weeks has been raising buffalo for about 10 years. His day job is working as a supervising mechanic for Cisco Food Services. A former crop farmer, he and his wife, Mandy, were looking for something different, and something other than raising cattle.
“When it comes to farming, you’ve got to think outside the box. Everything changes,” he said. “Now everybody’s getting into it.”
Bison meat has become more popular as a healthier type of red meat, Weeks said. It is darker and richer in iron; and because it doesn’t have the marbling of fat that beef does, it has a quicker cooking time and uses less heat.
According to the NBA website, bison meat is denser in nutrients than other types of meat because of its higher proportion of protein, fat, minerals and fatty acids to calories.
People who have trouble tolerating red meat, especially as they get older, can eat buffalo without problems, Weeks said.