Buffalo being raised near Poplarville
Published 7:00 am Friday, June 20, 2014
Red Gate Ranch, located at 92 Bison Lane in Poplarville, is a 40-year dream that became reality for Andre and Beth Toups.
The Baton Rouge couple recently found their location for a estimated 200 acre ranch in the Ford’s Creek Area, for the self-sustaining bison ranch which currently has 40 bison (commonly referred to as buffalo) and four calves.
Beth Toups has a nursing and teaching background, while her husband comes from the paramedic field. Along with their children, Chad and Dionne, the couple meets the challenges of caring for a modern day herd by utilizing pasture management, rapid rotational grazing and low stress herd management techniques.
Bison meat contains a high amount of protein but is low in fat content. It also provides other essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc and selenium. In addition, it is low in calories, saturated fats, cholesterol and has a sweeter taste than beef from cows, Beth Toups said.
“We are doing this successfully without pesticides, antibiotics or growth hormones,” she said.
The family expects to be managing a herd of 100 by their fourth breeding season and to process 60 bison annually by the following year.
They plan to expand their business into a bed and breakfast in coming years.
“Agri-tourism through a bed and breakfast will offer opportunities to experience bison first-hand and will be a relatively low cost get-away,” Beth Toups said. “We are already working on curriculum for students on field trips and are looking forward to holding community events here.”
Toups said that the family’s participation in the National Bison Association has provided them with opportunities to learn and grow their business wisely. Their aim is to become a contributing member to the economic impact of Poplarville and Pearl River County.
Toups said Bison are nationally recognized for their health benefits and historical value to the country.
“On June 11, a Senate bill was introduced to make Bison the National mammal of the United States,” Toups said.
The National Bison Legacy Act was introduced by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) with the support of the Vote Bison Coalition which is comprised of businesses, tribes and organizations.
Toups said according to the 2007 USDA census, there were more than 162,000 bison residing on private ranches and farms. She said today there are approximately 340,000 total bison in North America.
She said that in the 1600s there were 30 to 60 million of the animals roaming North America, but excessive unregulated hunting caused their numbers to dwindle. By the 1900s efforts were made to prevent them from becoming extinct.