Members of the Bison Association of Manitoba are enjoying this week at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair!  Their booth in the Royal Farmyard shows a life-size picture of a full-grown bison, and association member, Bridie Ritchie, says she actually had to decrease the picture size to get the bison on the banner!

Jim and Bridie Ritchie raise about 160 head of bison southwest of Brandon, near Souris, with about 85 breeding cows and 3 bulls, as well as a mixture of younger animals.

Bridie says there are over 50 bison producers registered with the Bison Association of Manitoba scattered across the province.

"Bison are regenerative by nature, so the way bison behave on the land and the way they graze, all kind of helps regenerate natural prairie grasses," she explains.

Ritchie says bison meat has many health benefits, as the meat is rich in nutrients.  "The meat has almost a sweet, rich flavor and it's very high in nutrients, especially in iron and B12. And it's also a very lean meat, so you get all the benefits of what you would consider wild meat; wild game but without that gamey taste."

"And there can be a number of ways to market bison meat," she adds. "Most of the producers in Manitoba raise young animals and sell them and ship them, or there are a lot of farms that offer direct sales as well."

Being first generation bison producers on their farm, Ritchie says they had to do quite a bit of research on care and maintenance of the bison before beginning their herd back in 2019.  However, there were still a few surprises along the way.

"I guess just how majestic they are, surprised me to be honest," she says. "You go out one day and you go and check them, and you see them coming over the crest of the hill, and there really is nothing like it!"

Please listen to more with Brydie Ritchie below!

Please visit their website HERE!

And check out their Facebook page HERE!

The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair will be held at the Keystone Centre in Brandon till Saturday night!