OSAJ Bison Ranch
Nick Anderson didn’t grow up with a plan to raise bison in Oklahoma, but now he runs a herd of about 40 on his ranch near Cushing.
Nick’s father, Oscar Samuel Anderson, Jr., had a registered Angus cattle herd on the ranch, but the herd got sick in 1971 and Oscar got out of the cattle game, Nick said.
OSAJ Bison Ranch is named after Oscar’s initials.
Oscar would often go to Grand Lake to sail, and passed a bison ranch on the way there.
“It was so rare to have buffalo back then in the 1980s,” Nick said. “He always though they belonged here. They were here before we were. They’re native.”
So in 1987, Oscar bought 20 young bison, Nick said.
“Just on a whim,” Nick said. “He had no economic reason for it at all. He just wanted them out here.”
Oscar passed away in 1989, and Nick took over the bison operation.
“We grew the herd to about 150 at one point, but it just took too much time,” he said. “The family decided to get out of it. I kept about 30 or 40 head and started my own small herd, and that’s what I continue to operate… I do it as a hobby. I can manage this without it taking up too much time.”
Nick acknowledged he could make more money if he sold the bison calves at auction, but he likes the home-grown aspect.
“I like to raise my own meat, and I know what goes into it,” he said. “I know the quality I’m getting.
Bison are less time-consuming livestock to raise than cattle, Nick said.
“You don’t ever have to pull a calf,” he said. “They calve on their own, and they throw about a 75 lb. calf. Cows used to do that until man got in there and screwed up. We keep breeding for a bigger calf because (cattle producers) are all about bigger, bigger, bigger. The cows aren’t able to calve without some help. With bison, the only time I have to help them is if there’s one breached every now and again.”
Bison also don’t require as much grain supplement as cattle, he said.
“They can survive on that dead winter grass right now,” he said. “They’ll lose weight, but they’ll survive.”
Everyone assumes bison are big, lumbering beasts, Nick said, but that’s not the case.
“They’re more like a deer than they are a cow,” he said. “They’re very agile. They can spin on a back leg and be in your face before you know it. They can jump. They look awkward, but they’re not. They’re pretty neat animals.”
Nick adopted his father’s philosophy on bison.
“They were here before us,” he said. “They belong. They’re the native animal to North America before white men ever got here. There’s a lot of mystique about them.”