Out on the Katy prairie, a rural motorist may observe a site reminiscent of an old-time cowboy movie — an open field of bison grazing on prairie grass. Patrick Bierschwale sits in his diesel truck on a bluff observing his bison and calculating in his head when he’ll need more to meet the needs of his growing business.
Bierschwale operates two bison farms under the name of Katerra Exotics (www.kateraexotics.com). The main production herd is located at Leakey, Texas where 50-100 buffalo graze on Texas Hill Country grass. When the young bison are old enough to wean, they’re moved to the family’s 100-acre ranch north of Katy, where the bison continue to graze until they’ve reached maturity.
A 1,000-pound animal is ready for slaughter at about three years of age. Bierschwale said that will result in about 600 pounds of meat. Ground bison is his biggest seller. But jerky, filets and sausage follow close behind.
“I get a lot of strange looks at markets,” said Bierschwale. “People think bison meat will have a weird taste. But it’s actually a little sweeter than beef. Plus, our bison has no growth hormones. I’ve been known to give some meat away for free…I tell them to take it and try it. They almost always come back to buy more.”