Benjamin Lee Bison Ranch Lands
Our 2,000-acre ranch is a combination of old family land, new family land and past friends and neighboring farms. Benjamin Lee Bison’s first piece of land, home of our present-day ranch headquarters, was purchased in 2017 from the family of our co-owner Austin Puckett and this was actually land that he spent much of his childhood on! Since then, more than 1,500 acres has been added to our ranch including land that had been in the family dating back to the 1800s and has now returned to the family under the Benjamin Lee Bison name. Much of this family land had been used for raising cattle and was the primary source of beef for the Puckett Food Stores chain. The same last name is not a coincidence, Austin’s family started Puckett Foods several generations ago. They were well known for their excellent meat market” and their slogan was the “best meat guaranteed.” We feel honored to be raising our version of the “best meat guaranteed” on the same land that raised the original!
|Average Precipitation||15 - 25 in/yr|
|Coldest Day in 2020||15 degrees|
|Hottest Day in 2020||110 degrees|
The ranch is located in the Central Great Plains in Sayre and Erick Oklahoma, which is far Western Oklahoma, and borders historic Route 66. This area is known for being a flat, natural pastures and plains with the occasional rolling hill and intermingled areas of eroded plateaus.
The primary soil is considered sandy loam which is composed of sand, silt and clay and it is known for its quick drainage but also typically lacks many micronutrients. This type of soil is best suited for the natural grasses than have been present for centuries however since much of this land was used for large scale farming in the past, any nutrients that naturally occurred have been greatly depleted. Types of native grasses in this region are bluestem, silver bluestem, switchgrass, sideoats grama, blue grama, dropseeds, buffalograss, and vine mesquite.
We are in a semi-arid climate zone that features a combination of both hot and cold weather seasons. Summers tend to be dry and average in the 90s and 100s during the day. Winters can dip into the teens with the wind chill. Including winter snow precipitation, our area can average anywhere from 15 to 25 inches of precipitation a year.
Wind is one of the most prominent weather occurrences and is consistently present almost year-round. With gusts easily reaching over 30mph on a regular basis and up to 60mph, soil erosion is one of the largest threats to the land. With the lack of natural groves of trees, most surrounding trees have been planted over decades to assist with the wind-based erosion that still exist even almost a century after the Dust Bowl. Check out our historical write up on the Black Blizzard of the Dust Bowl.
Yes, we are in the bison business, but first and foremost we are in the grass business. What gives an animal a high quality of life is its habitat and its conditions, and what makes an animal healthy is its forage. We strive to achieve the highest quality of environment, land forage and habitat for our bison to ensure their well-being, growth and quality. Our business is ran, not from the ground up, but from far below that, starting in the aquifers that have been feeding the great plains for a million years. From the aquifers to the soil health, and from the soil health to the forage, excellence is needed in all aspects of our land to ensure the highest quality of bison.
Land Management Programs
The future is regenerative agriculture and we have implemented the following programs to work towards restoring our ranch lands to the native prairies that once covered our region.
Compost is made by storing manure for lengths of time, allowing microbes to eat down seeds, grasses, hay and various other debris in manure and leaving a nutrient rich fertilizer that benefits the the land, animals and their forage. Manure is the key ingredient in compost, and we ship in several thousand tons from overrun feedlots, ultimately relieving them of excess waste. Each year we spread several thousand tons of compost over hundreds of acres. This, in combination with our active soil sampling, allows us to control and supplement the needs of our soil.
Composting is something that takes time and effort, but it provides a powerful and natural benefit to the land by reintroducing micronutrients into the soil. Historically, much of the land in our region has endured heavy wind erosion and over farming, or grazing, leaving the land depleted of necessary nutrients. Already within the past few years, our compost program has made a significant impact on our soil profiles by adding rich and productive nutrients.
Pasture rotation is key for a healthy forage. When we have a confined space, like a farm, it is necessary to monitor the grazing process as to allow the grass time to regenerate as well as ensure it does not get overgrazed. Pasture rotation also mimics the natural grazing habits of a herd. By resting a pasture, the forage has time to regrow to an optimal level in a shorter time frame which allows the same pasture to be able to be utilized more than once in a year. Currently our bison are separated into 3 herds and each rotates within their own pasture rotation schedule allowing for over half of our land to be in regrowth phases at all times.
Crop / Grass Improvement
Land that is planted and harvested multiple times a year become drained of nutrients because each time a crop is planted, they suck out nutrients from the soil leaving the land barren and a target for blowing soil and erosion. By replacing these crops with grasses, we are ensuring that the nutrients in the soil are staying in the ground and within the same root system as opposed to being removed with each crop harvest. Sprigging is the process of sowing in mature grass roots into a field which provides a better coverage and allows you to plant improved grass that is consistent across fields. Native and Bermuda grasses are easy on the soil as they require only the nutrients that are also native to the region. Much of our land had been under crops when purchased and we have been moving towards re-establishing these fields in native or improved grasses which not only provides a year-round forage for the animals but also retains soil nutrients.
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