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Bison ranchers struggle to meet consumer demand

MINNEAPOLIS (AP)--Growing consumer demand has sent prices for bison meat soaring to about $7 a pound.

And while ranchers are making more money, they're also struggling to boost production and keep customers supplied.

Dave Carter of the National Bison Association says bison aren't like other livestock: They grow slower, and a heifer can't have its first calf until it's 3 years old. A beef cow can have a calf at 2.

Many producers are also finding heifers more valuable for breeding than eating, and that means fewer bison are going to market--at least temporarily.

Even with demand growing, bison is still a niche product. The association says 92,000 bison were processed last year in North America. That's less than one day's beef production in the U.S. alone.



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