Whole Animal Utilization

Whole Animal Utilization

As we were first starting to wade into the world of bison, there were two primary factors that lead toward developing a jerky product:

  • A shelf-stable way to enjoy really great meat.
  • The idea of whole animal utilization.

If you have ever had a game freezer fail on you (or accidentally get uplugged or left open) you know the immense pain of losing a freezer full of meat. I've had it happen twice in my lifetime and its a real gut punch to throw away meat you've worked hard to procure. 

By seasoning and dehydrating meat, you can extend its shelf life by up to a year. (When done properly, don't take this as a food safety article).

As a hunter, I was familiar with the idea of whole animal utilization—the idea that if you are going to take an animal's life, you want to use every bit of it as a way to maximize the resource and honor the life of the animal. 

However, it wasn't until I started getting more interested in bison and regenerative agriculture that I was made aware of how big of a deal whole animal utilization is when you multiply it across a whole herd. 

Every chicken has two breasts, two thighs, two wings, and two drumsticks... but not every US consumer purchases a whole chicken. 

In the same way, every bison has a relatively small percentage of high-demand prime cuts (T-bones, Ribeyes, Sirloins, and Filets) but that bison also has roasts, trim, liver, heart, etc... And just like with chicken, not every US consumer is buying whole bison.  In fact, the demand for the prime cuts—particularly to restaurants—generally outweighs the demand for the rest of the animal. 

Ranchers are left with a disproportionate relationship between supply and demand; and when supply is fixed (every animal has every part) the portion of the equation that requires attention is the demand

Now, you can either launch a massive national PR campaign to encourage more folks to help out rancher by ordering less popular cuts of meat, or you develop a product that utilizes all the parts of the animal in a way that is easy to enjoy, easy to transport, and has a long shelf life.

** Featured image is from a day we spent at our friend Matt Skoglund's ranch, North Bridger Bison, north of Bozeman, MT **

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