A regenerative bison ranch achieves awesome results with their Hustler
Scott Assman raises bison on the family ranch, Antelope Creek Bison, in South Dakota, United States. “There’s just amazing animals,” he says of them, “but they never are too close to each other,” because they mess around with one another so much, he explains. “So when we spread their hay out, it’s got to be spread out very far and wide.”
The Hustler Chainless TX205 allows them to “go and spread the hay around wherever we want, exactly where we want it. And have those animals do the work of breaking down and fertilizing it themselves. It’s been awesome to see what results we’ve had with that.” What effect is that system having on their hay? “Every year it gets better and better!” And that’s what any rancher wants.
The Assman Family has been farming and ranching in south-central South Dakota on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation for four generations. Scott started looking into the bison industry while in college in late 2016, as beef cattle prices started to fall. Scott and his father Mike were looking for something that would fit their model of sustainability better and they purchased their first animals in the fall of 2017.
Today, Mike, his wife Darla, Scott and his wife Kaytlen, have sold all of their beef cows and run all bison. The Assmans felt in order to be fully sustainable they would need to take their operation to the next step and sell their bison and bison products directly to the consumer. This was achieved at the beginning of 2020 when the Assman family joined forces with another bison ranching family, the Heims, to create “Dakota Pure Bison“, which processes and ships their bison meat throughout the United States.
“We are in a very good spot for ranching, especially for bison. For what we do agriculturally, it fits us perfect,” Scott said.
The two ranches are the home of about 1,800 head and to feed them, they use a Hustler Trailed Chainless TX205 Bale Feeders.
For Scott, their Hustler’s bale feeder particularly fits bisons’ needs and behaviour.
The Hustler Chainless bale feeders allow the operator to spread out the hay on a thin windrow over a very long distance. Instead of processing the hay – which would inevitably damage these beautiful second-cutting grass and alfalfa bales that Scott Assman is feeding to his bisons, the Hustler Chainless bale feeder gently teases out the hay. The Hustler Way is ideal for bison, beef cattle and more generally free-range, grass-fed operations.
The bison grazing patterns in a wide-open range are constant motion. The herd is constantly moving, resulting in intense hoof traffic covering an area for a short time. Scott Assman explains that he likes encouraging his animals to mimic their natural behavior and movement. “So when we spread their hay out, it’s got to be spread out very far and wide and we’ll feed up for two or three days,” Scott said.
It’s also well-known that the gathering of animals in a small area to feed is a major cause of soil compaction and pasture damage.
Spreading out the hay on a thin windrow over a very long distance creates more opportunities for all cattle to feed, especially for the ones at the bottom of the pecking order. As Scott Assman explains in the video, “bison don’t waste hay. They don’t just go sit there and eat hay all day. They go and take a bite and leave because their buddies gonna come up and jab them in the ribs.”
“With our bison, we usually winter them on alfalfa fields, hayfields that we took the hay off of. And then we take that hay and spread it out back on there, so you’re putting all that fertilizer – all the product that you take off is going right back on those fields,” Scott explained, “and every year it gets better and better.”
At the same time the bisons or cattle eat, there is fertilisation happening through manure and urine. Spreading the hay out to avoid having it all in one spot but scattered evenly throughout the area causes even fertilisation.
“It’s been awesome to see what results we’ve had”
“We can use our Hustler, go and spread that hay around wherever we want it, exactly where we want it, and have those animals do the work of breaking down and fertilizing it themselves,” Scott said.
The Hustler Chainless TX205 bale feeder is also a machine very easy to operate. “We just really liked the design and the simplicity of them,” Scott said.
“You know, simplicity is kind of the ultimate sophistication”
For Scott, “just having that ability to go spread whatever hay we want – spread high-quality hay on top of poor quality, get ’em to eat it, and not have to worry about breakdowns and constant maintenance” is absolutely what he was looking for. And the Hustler Chainless TX205 bale feeder “just worked for everything we needed, and you just – we check her you know, beginning of the season, middle of the season, just nothing ever is really wrong with it.”
“That thing just follows you around, and just does whatever you want it to do.”
About Dakota Pure Bison
Dakota Pure Bison offers premium locally raised bison meat, straight from their pasture to the consumer plate. Their mission is to make it easy for people everywhere to eat premium bison meat. They support local community and they care of their land practising regenerative agriculture. You can shop directly on their website here.
The Hustler Way
Do you want to know more about Hustler bale feeder ranges? Contact us today, you’ll be glad you did!