Lakeland College Welcomes New Bison Calf
Lakeland College Vermilion is establishing a Bison Program as a result of a $4 million donation from Armin & Rita Mueller that was announced February of last year. The donation allows Lakeland College to establish a bison ranch and develop a curriculum which will be delivered to students in the Animal Science Technology program where students will learn about a livestock production system that many have never been exposed to. As stated on the Lakeland College website, the college will become the only post-secondary institution in Canada where students, with mentorship from faculty, manage commercial-sized bison, beef, crop, dairy, and sheep enterprises.
The new bison calf has sparked excitement for both students and staff for the upcoming bison program.
“Course development is already in progress and plans are to deliver a bison production course in the upcoming academic year as well as embed other bison competencies in multi-species courses such as Animal Handling, Welfare & Ethics and Diseases and Treatments,” stated Geoff Brown, Dean of Lakeland College.
There will be a Student Managed Farm bison unit formed when the Animal Science Technology program students enter into their second year of study in the fall of 2022, at that point the students will be taking part in all activities that relate to running a bison herd to gain hands-on skills and knowledge that will give them a full picture on how a bison operation is managed for optimum profitability.
“So far the college has seen only a handful of calves born from their 200 head of bison, which are currently residing on two different ranches while the College sources the land base for the enterprise. An 85 per cent weaning rate is common for a commercial bison herd once it is established, although we are expecting a lower number of calves this year due to the fact that we have a higher proportion of heifers than an average herd. Most of the calves will be sold but replacement heifers will be held back to keep the herd numbers at the level that can be sustained by our land base,” commented Brown.
Bison calf. Photos submitted