The WISENT or European Bison
Management & Conservation
It is the intent of the Ranch to encourage growth of this amazing animal within Canada. I am not into collecting these animals, I think everyone should have a few. I am in the business of promoting the growth of this species threw sales of Breeding stock to commercial and hobby farms, speciality meat market, and hunting stock. We do not ship and sell to the USA as the demand for the Wisent is strong enough here in Canada, I do not want to deal with the Import/Export Regulations.
In the autumn we selectively offer a handful of hunting opportunities on the Ranch to manage our older male animals and strategically harvest specific animals to ensure herd health and numbers. In the winter we muster our herds with the use of hay, and sell animals breeding stock to potential new buyers and some slaughter specific animals for food. As you can see this is a commercial ranch, and for profit business, as I must generate revenue of income to sustain the ranch. Donations are never asked for, as I believe these animals must sustain themselves in order to thrive. This day and age, give a species an economic value - you will ensure its survival. No species of animal has ever gone extinct if it has a value and is raised to supply that demand.
Wisent do not make good display animals in Zoos, that's why you do not see many in small captive enclosures. Psychologically they get fed up with it quickly, and too boot they are more athletic than the American Bison and can jump a 6 foot fence with ease, or jump a 3 meter creek form a standstill! If they can get their nose over your handling facility fence, they will jump it. They also have a very strong herd instinct, and if your neighbour has bison next door, or you try and separate them from each other with a standard 5 foot barbwire fence, your Wisent will all be over there in a flash, over the fence.
Bison in general travel quickly threw a handling facility, Wisent are the same. As far as hardiness, they are amazing, and without a doubt the most hardy animal I raise. We never pull the bulls, calves are always born in the spring and are smaller than a American Bison. The Wisent grow slower than American Bison, and some research says it takes them twice as long to reach the same body weight comparable to age. Personally, I can believe this, but in defense of the Wisent, they literally eat half as much hay per day in the winter compared to the American Bison, as I have had both. Part of this I feel is the American Bison is strictly a grazer, in an forested environment like we have here, the Wisent unitizes a huge amount of its diet from browsing, so their digestive system must be that much better at breaking down roughage than one thinks. Very often during the winter I will see my Wisent walk away from the abundant hay piles just to go browse in the willow flats and slews like a moose, utilizing habitat no other species I own touches, and they will stay there sometimes for days!
Wisent are predominantly a grazer, although they do actively browse on shoots and leaves. A adult bull will consume up to 50lbs of food in a day. They do better if they have access to drinking water all year long, but I have seen mine only drink once and awhile if they are out pawing and foraging during the winter months eating snow.
Other than that. Make sure they have a herd, adequate space to roam, and feed and water. You won't have any problems, just remember to keep the gate closed.