TOPEKA, KS - A new business in Topeka is offering customers the opportunity to purchase farm-raised bison meat and other bison products. Midwest Bison LLC recently opened its storefront at 3106 S.W. 29th St., directly across from the Brookwood Shopping Center. The products sold at the store are produced on a ranch located in Eskridge.
Owner Ken Doyle, who has been in the bison business for a decade, brings a unique perspective to the industry. Prior to his involvement with bison, Doyle worked in surgical sales, assisting in the construction of integrated operating rooms for medical professionals, including cardiologists. Drawing from his experience, Doyle highlights the health benefits of consuming bison over beef and emphasizes the need for a diversified meat supply.
"Doctors and cardiologists will tell you to stop eating beef," Doyle stated. "We’re supposed to be eating bison, antelope, chicken. Cows are for profit, not for health. I’m an organic person. I don’t like big government or how the food industry has been monetized so that only five different businesses in the country control our meat supply."
At Midwest Bison, customers can find a wide selection of cuts and ground meat, including bison steaks, strips, brisket, patties, and 5-pound tubes of ground bison. To ensure freshness, all meat products are flash frozen. Doyle estimates that he sells approximately 2,000 pounds of bison meat per week, which includes bulk orders delivered to local restaurants. Despite the historical presence of bison in Kansas, finding bison meat in the state has become increasingly difficult.
"You go to Colorado or Montana, and there’s bison everywhere," Doyle expressed. "Kansas once had the densest population of bison in the world, and you can’t get bison."
The Midwest Bison website encourages people to "Live Healthy, Eat Native" and educates consumers about the health advantages of consuming bison meat. Bison meat contains half the fat of beef, more B-12 and Omega-3 fatty acids pound for pound, and Midwest Bison ensures that its products are free from pesticides, hormones, and genetically modified organisms.
Adhering to a holistic approach to land management, Doyle practices rotational grazing with his bison. This method involves moving the animals to different areas and allowing the land to recover for a full 60 days before their return. It not only helps the land but also reduces the presence of parasites in the bison's manure. Doyle compares this practice favorably to the conditions in meat-packing operations for cattle, where animals often stand in their own manure for extended periods, increasing the risk of meat contamination during processing.
In terms of animal welfare, Midwest Bison ensures that the bison are put down ethically and immediately processed through Alta Vista Meat Co., a state-inspected facility. Doyle emphasizes that bison meat offers superior quality and costs only a few dollars more per pound than beef. Ground bison is sold for $10 per pound, while steaks are priced at $20 per pound.
"You can eat a pound of bison five days a week for $200 a month. If you eat a pound of bison, you’ll never eat ground beef again," Doyle claimed.
Genetics play a crucial role in the bison business, and Doyle has dedicated years to building up his genetically superior herd. While North America once had abundant bison herds, overhunting led to a significant decline in their numbers. To ensure genetic purity, modern-day bison producers, including Doyle, conduct DNA testing on their animals. Doyle recently acquired his primary breeding bull from Beaver Creek Buffalo after the owner decided to retire following 30 years in the business.
In addition to meat sales, Midwest Bison also offers live animals for those interested in starting their own bison herds. The public is welcome to tour the genetic herd at the ranch in Eskridge. The Topeka storefront serves a dual purpose as an art gallery, displaying artwork from artists across the country that celebrates the majestic nature of the bison.
"We have anything to do with bison — a bronze hand-sculpted statue, pictures, skulls, hides, coats," Doyle shared. "I do this because I’m passionate about bison. Buffalo are so amazing."
While bison are magnificent creatures, Doyle cautions the public against getting too close, emphasizing that they are not pets and can be aggressive.
"They’re incredibly aggressive, and they’ll turn on you. I like to say they’re very naughty, but the truth is, they can be very nasty. You can’t domesticate bison," he warned.
Midwest Bison is now open for business at its southwest Topeka location from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The business also made its debut at the Topeka Farmers Market in early July, where their meat sold out. With a focus on promoting healthy eating and supporting sustainable agricultural practices, Midwest Bison aims to provide the people of Topeka with access to high-quality bison meat and products while preserving the legacy and importance of these magnificent animals.