New bulls at the Fermilab farm

One of Fermilab’s new bulls gets a taste of life on the Illinois prairie. Photo: Cindy Arnold

They may not be as cute and cuddly as a newborn bison, but the two bulls recently delivered from Silver Bison Ranch in western Wisconsin will help ensure that future Fermilab calves are strong and plentiful.

“We don’t want to interbreed our herd, so every couple years we get bulls from another ranch,” senior ground keeper Cleo Garcia said.

The two bulls traveled by truck for six hours before reaching the Fermilab farm. When the gate on the trailer finally opened, they bounded off the truck and into their new home.

But the Fermilab bison were a little suspicious of the newcomers and more cantankerous than congenial.

“The cows and heifers were picking on them,” Garcia said with a laugh. “They were chasing them around the pen.”

The two bulls were herded into an adjacent field to separate them from cows. They will remain separated from the cows until the breeding season starts in June.

“We want the cows to give birth in the spring, but they were off cycle and having calves in the middle of winter,” Garcia said. “We will separate the bulls from the cows until the breeding season starts.”

While the cows and heifers are satisfied with the separation, the two bulls anxiously await their introduction into the herd.

“These bulls came from a herd with 400 bison,” Garcia said. “You can tell they want to be with the rest of the bison here.”

But until June, these bulls will have to be satisfied with each other’s company and the tough life of grazing, lying in the shade and occasionally rolling in dirt.

—Sarah Charley