Meet the Benders


Rancher Profile

What does raising bison mean to you and your family?
My mom and dad raised my sisters and me while figuring out the bison thing. Bison is all we know, and it will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Can you share the name of your ranch and how long you’ve owned it?
We started Foothills Bison in 1999. A friend and neighbor, Cyril Hastings Jr., paid it forward by helping a young couple get started. They sharecropped ownership for a small herd of animals. His animals are still part of the herd today to honor his legacy.

What kinds of practices are you implementing in terms of sustainability and humane treatment of the animals as a part of your operations?
We do quite a bit of rotational grazing. We also utilize roughage by grazing our corn stalks in the fall and winter. The fields that have cover crops are an advantage for maximized grazing and soil health on our tillable acres. Along with that, it helps give our grass a break if needed.

To minimize stress on our cows when weaning, we try to handle them as little as possible. When working with our feedlot animals, we minimize stress and bruising with our custom facility. It is a ground-level, open facility. We use minimal people and utilize the animals’ herd mentality to make our system efficient.

What does your partnership with TenderBison mean to you?
To be associated with a national brand is inspiring. Being a part-owner of TenderBison is important to us. We have the opportunity to retain ownership from the farm to the table. It feels as though we have the finger on the pulse of knowing the animals as well as the consumer.

What things would you like people to know about bison as a product?
Bison is America’s original red meat. The health benefits are obvious. As the industry evolves, the bison industry has the advantage of becoming more carbon neutral over any other red meat industry in the United States. The longevity of the animals coupled with rotational grazing designs our carbon footprint.

Why would you tell someone to choose TenderBison bison products over beef?
There are so many advantages to raising bison. It’s great for the environment, there is less management, better taste, and so many health benefits. For example, because bison are a natural part of the North American ecosystem, bison ranching can be so beneficial to the natural environment. Bison management requires less management but better fences and facilities. Unlike beef animals, buffalo do not need to be managed during calving season. Bison have such a unique flavor that many people describe as “earthy” or “mineral.” This flavor is not overwhelming, though. Bison is not “gamey” in the slightest. Compared to beef, bison meat is more deliciously tender and has a lighter flavor.

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