Bison data collected to enable benchmarking

Producers compare performance | ‘It’s all about improving the performance of the industry,’ says bison association official

PONOKA, Alta. — Bison producers now have key performance benchmarks to measure their herds.

A Saskatchewan Bison Association study collected data from 19 producers on their cow-calf, backgrounder and finishing operations and included information on herd profiles, production costs, investment requirements and other key production factors.

Terry Kremeniuk, executive director of the Canadian Bison Association, said bison producers need information to see how their herd and management practices stand up against other producers.

“It’s a way you can measure your own herd against benchmarks to improve your practices,” Kremeniuk told the Alberta Bison Producers’ annual meeting.

Producers can see if their mortality rates, average weaning weights, cost per pound and days on feed are higher or lower than the benchmark herds.

“It’s all about improving the performance of the industry.”

For finished animals, the average number of days on feed with herds less than 100 head was 244.

The average number of days on feed in herds of more than 100 was 196.

In the backgrounder measurement, the average total cost per pound gained for herds with less than 100 bulls was $1.65 per lb. For herds with more than 100 bulls, it dropped to $1.09 per lb.

Information about cost of gain and days on feed is readily available for cattle but not for bison.

Kremeniuk said the benchmark study is also useful for bankers, who need information about basic bison costs.

“The industry is growing and re-quires capital and financial institutions want information about the industry, and this provides them with additional information that could be helpful to them.”

Kremeniuk said the industry recognizes the data isn’t perfect, but the information will become more accurate as additional producers make their production data available. It’s hoped another 23 producers will be added this year.

“We want to share the progress and repeat it again next year and end up with a good system of benchmarks for all producers,” he said.

“We know it’s going to take time to get this information. Once we have it and stratify it by size of operation, individual producers can compare their operation with the benchmarks that we put together as the result of the study.”

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