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Grand_Maester
10-15-2009, 06:50 PM
Basically, I want to know a few details about the maintenance required for domestic bison, as well as their ability to be trained and ridden. Information on their energy and endurance would be cool too.
If anyone knows about this, or knows of a better place for me to ask stuff of this nature, then that'd be awesome.
Thanks

jeseymour
10-15-2009, 07:36 PM
I don't have any bison, but I know people who've had them. I don't think they're any more ridable than cows. You might see an occasional one in a wild west show or something (being ridden.) They're really not riding animals, and they don't train well.

I know they have no respect for fencing. There's a herd in Lenox Massachusetts, and the fence is at least six or seven feet high, heavy wire mesh. They can jump, apparently, but mostly they will just plow through fences. I seem to remember maybe ten years ago, somebody got killed in the pasture by one of the bulls.


They eat hay and grass.

Hope this helps.

PeterL
10-15-2009, 09:38 PM
Basically, I want to know a few details about the maintenance required for domestic bison,

They are a very low maintenance animal. Put them in a field with adequate grass, and they will get by.


as well as their ability to be trained and ridden. Information on their energy and endurance would be cool too.


I think you are kidding. I can't imagine anyone trying to ride one. If you started with a newborn, then it might be possible to train one to do something, but I don't think it would be worth the trouble.

Grand_Maester
10-15-2009, 10:21 PM
I do know of one guy who would ride bison. He would bet guys who had horses that his bison could beat their horse in a 100 yard race.
Apparently he always won.

Based on that, I thought I could run with the idea for a little while in a fantasy.

PeterL
10-15-2009, 10:33 PM
I do know of one guy who would ride bison. He would bet guys who had horses that his bison could beat their horse in a 100 yard race.
Apparently he always won.

Based on that, I thought I could run with the idea for a little while in a fantasy.

I am surprised, very surprised.. With that as a starting point, you might be able to come up with something interesting.

Snowstorm
10-15-2009, 10:40 PM
From what I understand, they don't take well to being trained, unless like PeterL said above, you start with a newborn. The state had a couple buffs and they had to be moved out of Cheyenne (the state capital) and were moved to a place out in the country. The head vet said the fence (one of those about eight-foot-high fences) was just a visual barrier. He could go through easily if he wanted to. The vet said if the buff ever figured out he could get out anytime he wanted, the vet would have to put him down. There'd be no stopping him.

A buffalo rancher told me you can't fence up an area, drop your herd into it. You have to drop off your herd FIRST, let them decide where they'll hang out, THEN put up your fence.

Perhaps Dogpile (search engine) your request. Likely there'll be a couple sites with information.

Grand_Maester
10-15-2009, 11:33 PM
I am surprised, very surprised.. With that as a starting point, you might be able to come up with something interesting.

I was surprised too.

Also, how does domestication work? Because the idea is based on multiple generations of domestic bison being trained.
Another big issue is their daily energy levels. I know they are ruminants, so that could cause a few problems, but I can work with those. However, whenever I see bison (I live in Wyoming right now, so that's not exactly a rare occurence) they're usually laying on the ground, rolling in the dirt, or walking in a river. No signs they have anywhere close to good endurance, either daily or extended endurance.

PeterL
10-16-2009, 12:03 AM
I was surprised too.

Also, how does domestication work? Because the idea is based on multiple generations of domestic bison being trained.
Another big issue is their daily energy levels. I know they are ruminants, so that could cause a few problems, but I can work with those. However, whenever I see bison (I live in Wyoming right now, so that's not exactly a rare occurence) they're usually laying on the ground, rolling in the dirt, or walking in a river. No signs they have anywhere close to good endurance, either daily or extended endurance.

Is your idea that some people had domesticated bison a long time ago and used them in place of cattle? If so, then they would have become like cattle, which are closely related.

As for energy level, if you didn't have to do anything except eat, sleep, and procreate, then how would you spend your days? You might not lie in the dust, but you probably wouldn't go to work. Oxen are not high energy beasts, but they work all day. I would think that oxen would be a good model for how domesticated bison would act.

Grand_Maester
10-16-2009, 12:16 AM
Hmm... thats true about the oxen. And in thinking about the roaming and stampeding that was done during the height of the bison in North America, bison can move great distances and can go pretty fast if they want to... Awesome.
I also found some sites about caring for domesticated bison, training them, etc. So thats cool.
Add all this to the creative liberties afforded by fantasy, and I think I've got a good idea in the works.

PeterL
10-16-2009, 12:18 AM
It certainly is an interesting idea.

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-16-2009, 03:57 AM
I grew up near the Montana bison range ... big scary beasts! Basically lazy unless they see you as a threat and then they will stomp you into a greasy spot on the prairie.

Bison aren't really trainable, although a few exceptions have been trained to saddle, which is very hard to fit because of the shape of the critter. It would take generations of hand-rearing and rigid culling for temperament.

As for care, pasture or low-protein hay and access to water is all they really need.

They can, if they have to, move at a steady pace for miles and run a horse into the ground. They are extremely agile for their size, much more so than cows, and can charge 50 yards faster than a horse can run away. However, they are fairly herdable if you have riders advance slowly across a broad front ... they drift away from the riders. If you push them too hard they'll charge the horses and it gets ugly.

For a long time there was a battered WWII jeep at the gates of the refuge- some old bull took a disliking to it and stomped it into scrap metal. The refuge employee bailed out the back and hid in a ditch until someone came looking for him.

My dad watched them rounding up some bison on the refuge to ship somewhere (he was a kid, doesn't remember where the herd was going). The small herd went into the shipping corral at a brisk trot, led by a big bull, right up the loading ramp, where the bull lowered his head and continued at a brisk trot right through the reinforced sides of the railroad cattle car and back to the open range ... it's that kind of animal.

***********
Adding: A Mexican rancher I met was raising beefalo, and tried an AI cross between a bison and the breed used for bullfighting (toro de lidea). It was huge (about 2000-2500 lbs), solid black with a curly ringleted mane (not the fuzzy buffalo mane), and had a very aggressive disposition. The horns were larger than the usual fighting bull.

AyJay
10-16-2009, 05:42 AM
One of my very first jobs was as an assistant zookeeper. I had to feed and clean up after the hoofstock, which included bison. There may be differences between bison in the wild versus at a zoo, but I will ditto the above - they are intractable and pretty damn dangerous, especially the males. It was a big production cordoning them off to clean up their range.

Grand_Maester
10-16-2009, 05:49 AM
Hmm... interesting. Fortunately, the only way my concept would work in the story would be if there was many generations of hand-rearing.
The information about their incredible power is cool too.

Ok, question: Supposing a bison were to run at a steady pace for a respectable amount of time (multiple hours). How much grazing time would have to be allotted for him to recover the energy to do that again, and when would it be ready to run again?

ideagirl
10-17-2009, 06:00 AM
I grew up near the Montana bison range ... big scary beasts! Basically lazy unless they see you as a threat and then they will stomp you into a greasy spot on the prairie.

Bison aren't really trainable, although a few exceptions have been trained to saddle, which is very hard to fit because of the shape of the critter. It would take generations of hand-rearing and rigid culling for temperament.

As for care, pasture or low-protein hay and access to water is all they really need.

They can, if they have to, move at a steady pace for miles and run a horse into the ground. They are extremely agile for their size, much more so than cows, and can charge 50 yards faster than a horse can run away. However, they are fairly herdable if you have riders advance slowly across a broad front ... they drift away from the riders. If you push them too hard they'll charge the horses and it gets ugly.

For a long time there was a battered WWII jeep at the gates of the refuge- some old bull took a disliking to it and stomped it into scrap metal. The refuge employee bailed out the back and hid in a ditch until someone came looking for him.

My dad watched them rounding up some bison on the refuge to ship somewhere (he was a kid, doesn't remember where the herd was going). The small herd went into the shipping corral at a brisk trot, led by a big bull, right up the loading ramp, where the bull lowered his head and continued at a brisk trot right through the reinforced sides of the railroad cattle car and back to the open range ... it's that kind of animal.

***********
Adding: A Mexican rancher I met was raising beefalo, and tried an AI cross between a bison and the breed used for bullfighting (toro de lidea). It was huge (about 2000-2500 lbs), solid black with a curly ringleted mane (not the fuzzy buffalo mane), and had a very aggressive disposition. The horns were larger than the usual fighting bull.

I just want to say, I am LOVING your buffalo stories. I like buffalo more and more, the more you say about them. :-) What awesome animals!

Fenika
10-17-2009, 06:25 AM
Unless you find specific examples of people herding bison in the past (which you might, if you look hard enough!) I think you'll have to use horses as your endurance model and just avoid too many exacts.

But...
Since they ruminate, they need to rest some point after eating to chew their cud. Not sure how frequent their meals need to be to keep things moving in the ole fermentation bat, or how often they have to rest after moving to steady that same bat.

Evolution not only had the bison who covered a lot of ground, but who had to worry about far more predators than now.

Grand_Maester
10-18-2009, 08:25 AM
I just want to say, I am LOVING your buffalo stories. I like buffalo more and more, the more you say about them. :-) What awesome animals!

You can understand how awesome it would be to write about them. ;)

Hmm... As far as what you said, Fenika, yeah, the rumination question was my main problem. Anyone know how long cows take to chew their cud or how often they need to do it after one meal?

AllieKat
10-18-2009, 08:41 AM
I skimmed an awesome book about a bison awhile ago. The buffalo was rescued as a baby, and raised as something of a house pet until its health improved...at which point it still thought it could act like a house pet. It was huge, lovable, and had a lot of personality. At the same time, it could've been dangerous because of its size. I'm pretty sure the book had a happy ending, not one of those 'the animal dies in the end' endings.

I learned a lot about bison from the book, but regrettably, I don't recall the title.... :( If it sounds interesting to you, I can do some research and hopefully find out. Let me know?

Canotila
10-19-2009, 08:15 AM
http://pro.corbis.com/images/IH186204.jpg?size=67&uid=B202D2C8-7F41-4075-A5BC-67569D1CEF19

Bison Steer
http://www.premierlonghorns.com/Buffalo_Steer10.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2452/3689623058_8e07e42b0b.jpg

There's an old cowboy near Quartzsite, AZ who does a wild west show. Both him and his bull are really famous.
http://www.nrdsss.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/tcandharvey.jpg


I wouldn't say that training a bison to ride is the norm, but TC Thorenston shows that with the right individual animal and the right approach, it can be done and done well.

C.M. Daniels
10-19-2009, 11:49 PM
I lived and worked in Yellowstone National Park and have seen in person how bison can turn nasty in no time. In some cases the people who got gored were nothing but bloody pulp when the ambulance came and hauled them away.

To quote the handout the NPS gives you at the park entrances, bison can weight up to 3,000 pounds and run up to 30 mph. To many tourists, they're just like Disneyland robots. I had people ask me how fat you had to be to wear a buffalo suit, do the bison make union wages, how long does it take the NPS to get them herded up into the corrals at night, how come you can't see the switches/are they on the back or front. . . Just wow.

I saw a guy approach one once where he had a video camera in one hand and the other extended. He was going to pet it and take cool videos home. He wound up in the hospital with multiple broken bones and a busted camera.

One morning I woke up and heard snorting at the screen in my window, only to be met face-to-face by the bison that was blowing snot and scratching its nose on my window.

They're neat animals and must be respected.

I like your idea of a bison rider in a fantasy novel. I'd love to see how you execute it. Happy writing.