Two baby bison born at Fermilab, more on the way

A bison calf stands close to its mother at Fermilab’s bison farm on a recent sunny morning. Photo: Sarah Khan

Spring has sprung, welcoming two additions to Fermilab’s bison herd, with more to come.

The first bison calf was born on April 20, and the second was born on April 22. Both calves are healthy and in excellent shape, said Fermilab herdsman Cleo Garcia.

The calves pranced around their mothers on a recent breezy morning, taking breaks to nurse while the moms kept a vigilant eye on the rest of the herd.

The babies are the offspring of two bulls that were brought to the farm from Wisconsin at the end of June last year.

Garcia said he expects between eight and 10 more calves on the way. One may arrive this week, and the rest are expected in May.

Bison gestate for nine and a half months, but it’s often difficult to tell when one is pregnant, Garcia said. Last year, the birth of six bison was a surprise for the herdsman, who previously did not notice any signs of pregnancy in the cows.

“It can be a worrisome experience, ensuring that the birth goes well for the calf and cow,” Garcia said. “But everything went smoothly. Now I can look forward to seeing more visitors at the lab.”

The babies’ siblings also do what they can to look after the newborns.

“One of the babies’ older brothers was actually helping to protect it when it was just born,” Garcia said.

Bison babies are born at the lab generally between April and June. The lab manages the herd to maintain its population size from one year to the next.

Currently 24 bison make up the herd. Lab visitors can view the buffalo from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Sarah Khan