Tag: Thunder Heart Bison


American Grass-Fed: Bringing Bison Back


America is celebrated for its diversity: from music to food, almost every aspect of our culture has been influenced by people of varying ethnicities. For this reason, it’s difficult to find an authentic taste of America. For those who wish to take a walk in the shoes of our native bretheren, however, there is good news. Bison meat is truly North America’s native meat.

A family of bison from Shape Ranch
A family of bison from Shape Ranch

Sixty million bison once roamed the great plains and amply fed the hearty appetites of the Native Americans who occupied this country. When the Transcontinental Railroad was built in the 1800s, bison herds were split between the North and South. The Southern herd included animals from Texas, eastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and southern Nebraska. By the dawn of the 20th century, the total bison population had dwindled to less than 1,000.

Thanks to conservation efforts, bison are slowly recovering. The Southern Plains herd that exists today was started in the 1880s by Charles Goodnight, a wealthy American cattlemen. His wife urged him to save five calves at a time when hunters were killing bison by the hundreds of thousands.

Shape Ranch, producer of Thunder Heart Bison, is owned and run by Hugh and Sarah Fitzsimons near San Antonio, Texas. In 1806, the King of Spain granted this land to Juan Fransisco Lombrano, a loyal subject of the crown who stocked the ranch with cattle and sheep. Many generations later, in 1933, Shape Ranch was purchased by Hugh’s grandfather, H. A. Fitzsimons, and has remained  in the family ever since.
Bison
The ranch was originally stocked with registered Hereford cattle and steers until Hugh made the decision to begin a herd of bison. The family now raises 350 head of bison. More recently, Shape Ranch decided to shift focus toward the genetic integrity of their bison. Their goal is to increase the number of Southern Plains bison that were once indigenous to Dimmit County and all of Texas. In 2008, Hugh purchased four bison from the only remaining, pure-bred, Southern Plains herd. These bulls came from the famous Mary Annand Charles Goodnight herd that is now the Texas State herd at Caprock Canyons State Park. By choosing animals from such legendary sources, the Fitzsimons family insures both strong and diversified genetics.

In April 2009 Thunder Heart Bison was certified by the Animal Welfare Institute as Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), making it the first bison ranch in the United States to meet the stringent and exacting standards of the AWA. Thunder Heart Bison Ranch is dedicated to allowing bison to live in accordance with their natural instincts: they eat only grass and are killed on the prairies where they live, under low stress conditions. Thunder Heart is one of very few ranches in America whose buffalo are both grass-fed and field-harvested. By grazing on native grasses, such as Sea Coast Bluestem, Old World Bluestem, Curly Mesquite, and Hooded Windmill, these bison produce a flavor that is mild and delicate.

Grass-fed Bison is naturally leaner than other meats but the fat it does have is mono-unsaturated, making it much healthier while refusing to sacrifice flavor. The leanness of the meat requires low and slow cooking.

We are particularly excited to share this incredibly unique product with our customers. This year’s Thunder Heart Bison is only available in small quantities, and Heritage Foods USA is proud to take part in the opportunity to share this one-of-a-kind, grass-fed bison with all of you. Each cut of our stock originates from one of 350 bison raised on the Fitzsimons family ranch from a herd that is slowly, but surely, being brought back from the ranks of endangerment. With its pure, lean, unmatchable taste, this offer is truly one-of-a-kind.

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