Tommy and Shelly Wilkerson are quite fond of the gentle giants who roam their Whitesville farm. A trio of unique, statuesque buffalo or “bison” as some call them, graze the hillsides on the couple’s property, something truly diverse to Daviess County.
“My interest first peaked when I read an article related to “beefalo,” which is a cross between cattle and bison,” Tommy Wilkerson said. “I came across our three buffalo in Philpot and convinced my wife to let me purchase a buffalo bull to breed calves with.”
“Beefalo” as Wilkerson noted, have been clinically proven to be a healthier alternative to traditional beef from cattle. Higher in protein and lower in cholesterol beefalo products are becoming more popular commercially.
“There seems to be a lot of local interest that I have just recently found out about related to buffalo,” Tommy stated.
In addition to the buffalo nearby Philpot, neighboring Ohio County is home to bison as well. The largest “herds” of buffalo located in Western Kentucky reside near the Kentucky Lake.
Relatively low maintenance, Tommy shared how his buffalo are “bucket broke.”
“Our buffalo adapt well. They don’t require as much hay as cattle, and they graze on what is available. If they hear a bucket of feed rattling, they come running,” Tommy said. “Cold weather doesn’t seem to bother them. Hot weather doesn’t seem to bother them. They just adapt pretty well.”
All three of the buffalo at the Whitesville farm are female and are expectant mothers by the looks of things.
Weighing in between 1,000 and 1,400 hundred pounds each, the bison at the Wilkerson farm have all been bred and preparations are underway for new calves to arrive.
“I’m learning,” Tommy said. “Buffalo don’t cycle quite like cattle, so time frames are a little different.”
Tommy also said, the bison, who share a love for carbs, can be “human-like” in a sense.
“They love dinner rolls and bread. Honestly I’m not sure if it tastes sweet to them or what, but I hand feed them rolls often as a treat,” Tommy said. “They think it’s candy.”
Shelly Wilkerson added that the buffalo can also be quite nosey.
“If I’m ever outside they have to know what’s going on, they come over to the fence like children,” Shelly said.
Since the trio of bison have called Whitesville home, several people have approached Tommy and Shelly with similar questions, most regarding what bison “taste like.”
“We’ve had a lot of people interested in the meat aspect of raising buffalo. I think it’s definitely something that is up and coming, especially since it’s a healthier option,” Tommy said.
The Wilkerson’s hope to have new additions to the bison family soon and haven’t given up their dream of breeding “beefalo” just yet. Tommy and Shelly’s daughter and son-in-law are set to begin breeding cattle soon.
“We’ve been at this about a year and a half,” Tommy said. “We’re still learning, but we sure enjoy it.”