Saskatchewan bison operation wins big in Denver show

Regular trips to the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, have paid off for Wolverine Bison Company.

After years of entering the livestock super show held every January, bison from the Humboldt, Sask., ranch won grand champion and reserve bull. Wolverine Bison was also named producer of the year.

During the sale the grand champion bull was the high seller at $19,500 while the reserve went for $11,750.

Mark and Denise Silzer with partners Cecil and Jane Stumborg, operate Wolverine Bison and are active promoters of Plains bison by showing at events like Denver and Canadian Western Agribition in Regina.

“The bison, whether it is in Denver or Regina, tends to generate a significant amount of interest from the general public,” said Silzer.

Showing against other breeders is also a good way to confirm whether a program is going in the right direction.

“Any time you can take your animals there and have them judged against other good stock from different parts of the U.S. and Canada is a benefit. It allows buyers to come and view those animals in comparison with others,” he said.

“Since the Denver show we have had a lot of calls from people who are interested in buying animals in the future and that is a positive,” he said.

Wolverine Bison has about 150 females and sells breeding stock as well as meat animals that are processed locally or in the U.S.

“There is lots of opportunity to grow the markets. Bison has been one of the brighter spots when it came to specialized livestock. It has endured some of the ups and downs. It is due to the animal itself. It is a North American animal that has thrived in this environment for thousands of years,” he said.

Silzer entered the bison business in 1994 and was president of the Canadian Bison Association and Saskatchewan Bison Association. He has also been on the board for the National Farm Animal Care Council and worked on the code of practice for humane handling of bison.

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