Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2001


Published in Great Plains Research 11:1 (Spring 2001). Copyright © 2001 Center for Great Plains Studies.


The North American buffalo (Bison bison) has survived near extinction to become a commodity (meat, hides, and hair) in a consumer-driven market. Since this is a growth industry, primarily young bulls are slaughtered for meat, while most females are used to build the herd. Bison meat is highly palatable, and previous research showed that grain-finished bison meat is low in fat and high in protein. However, bison may be grain- or grass-finished. In this study we found few differences in nutrient content of the meat between grain- or grass-finished bison. Grass-finished animals had a little more moisture (75.9 vs. 74.6 %) and less fat (1.7 vs. 2.2%). The largest difference was in fatty acid profiles (expressed as percentages of total fat), with grass-finished bison containing on average 5% more saturated fatty acids, 6% more polyunsaturated fatty acids, and 11% less monosaturated fatty acids than meat from grain-finished bison. Bison meat is low in sodium. It is also an excellent source of phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12, as well as, iron, niacin, vitamin B6, and other minerals and vitamins. In summary, bison meat is a low-fat, low-sodium, nutrient-dense food, making it a nutritious food, whether it is grain- or grass-finished.