Eldon and Maggie Handrich established Prairie Monarch Bison Ranch outside of Laramie, Wyoming in 1992. They were inspired by the ecological and human health benefits of returning native grazers like bison to the prairie ecosystem. When the ranch began raising bison, the core philosophy was to produce the healthiest meat possible in a way that is friendly to the land, the animals and the ecosystem. The values still hold true today. Eldon’s son, Dylan Handrich, took over ranch operations in 2006, retaining the same core philosophy: raising bison on pasture using high-welfare management techniques produces healthier, tastier and more sustainable meat.
Today, Prairie Monarch’s 600 bison are Certified Grassfed by AGW, the first—and only—food label in North America that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, and raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range. The bison graze on the nutrient-rich native grasses of the Laramie River Valley, which are managed without artificial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. The Certified Grassfed by AGW certification verifies the animals are never fed grain, confined to a feedlot, or receive growth hormones, stimulants or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. “Our herd is raised as naturally as possible,” Dylan explains. “It’s very important to us that these animals are raised with dignity and slaughtered according to the highest welfare standards. Animal Welfare Approved certification proves that we’re actually doing what we say we’re doing.”
Prairie Monarch’s bison herd grazes the native grasses spring through fall, with supplemental hay in the winter months grown and harvested on the ranch. Raising grassfed bison on pasture takes advantage of their evolutionary development: “Because they were the native grazers, bison have evolved over millennia to utilize grass in the most efficient way. On conventional feedlot operations, a lot of time and resources are spent moving inputs in and out, as opposed to allowing animals to be out on pasture where everything they need comes from the ground, and any excess nutrients are returned to the land as manure to be used for the next season,” Dylan explains.
In 2014, Prairie Monarch Bison Ranch purchased a meat processing facility, enabling Dylan to have complete oversight over his operation–from growing the grass his bison eat, to the careful butchering and packaging of bison meat for his customers.
AWA and Certified Grassfed by AGW bison from Prairie Monarch Bison Ranch is available by the cut or bulk order direct from the farm through their website, as well as at farmers’ markets in Laramie. For more information about Prairie Monarch Bison Ranch, visit pmbison.com or contact them at email@example.com or 888-927-7892.