STRASBURG, Colo. (KDVR) — Because of a drought affecting eastern Colorado, a bison rancher is forced to sell off a substantial portion of his herd.
As the sun begins to warm over the eastern Colorado landscape, it reveals images that could be 1,000 years old. A herd of bison grazing peacefully in the cold morning, instinctively doing what bison do.
But on this day, that calm turns into controlled chaos. It is roundup time at the Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch.
“See, they are following that lead cow over there. So the whole dang herd is going to go. See how they are coming out on that far side over there?” said Ray Thieman who owns the Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch.
Instead of horses, ATVs are used to round up the herd. Thieman said they are safer for the ranch hands and the bison.
Over 300 bison are being rounded up, then the males are separated from the females. The females are then examined by a veterinarian for pregnancy, those that are not will be sold.
“Due to the drought, we are going to have to reduce our herd. Normally, we run about 250 buffalo cows here on the ranch and we’re going to cut it down to 100,” said Thieman.
Unlike domesticated cattle, bison are inherently more dangerous and require an abundance of caution when being around them.
Today’s roundup is cold, dry, and dusty. Really dusty.
“I can’t even see where we are. Can you? Good God Almighty, this dust is terrible!” said Thieman.
Thieman will tell you there are much easier ways to earn a living. He said bison ranching is a niche market and not nearly as financially predictable as beef. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.