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Getting up close with beastly bison

They’re 800 kilograms of explosive energy and can jump two metres high.

American bison aren’t too common in Australia, but in the small, sleepy town of Morpeth, a farm of the beasts is growing.

 Sarah-Jane Dunford and her husband Luke hit difficulties on the road to becoming parents, so their thought was, what’s next?

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“I thought: ‘Let’s do something interesting with our lives, a little bit complex,’” Ms Dunford told the Newcastle Weekly.

And, from there, the dream of a bison hobby farm was born.

“I fell in love with them when I watched Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner,” she said.

“My husband was dubious to start with, so we went to a bison conference in Montana in the United States and went to lots of farms.

“He saw these were normal blokes farming bison and he realised we could do it.”

Photo: Peter Stoop

The couple has a 10-year plan to sell bison meat, which is not common in Australia.

Bison is leaner than beef and is lower in total saturated fat. It’s also said to be more tender.

On the other end of the spectrum, the farm offers encounters, where you can get up-close with the animals and feed them.

“We want to educate people on what bison are,” Ms Bunford said.

“People are fascinated by them, we love them, and it’s nice to have people meeting them and loving them too.

“We have trained them to come up to the fence and eat treats, and it’s nice for kids to get up close and feed them.”

But these furry beasts don’t come without their challenges.

The Dunford’s are still learning to adjust to the animals’ power.

“We did have a rescue dog that was very aggressive towards them and it bit the bull and the bull jumped the fence and was running around chasing the dog.

“All gates have to be seven foot high, so we have welded them all together from scratch [and] the fences are two metres high,” Ms Bunford said.

“The passion we have for them is wonderful. When they run towards you, you feel the rumbling in the ground.

“I don’t think there’d be any another farming we would want to do.”

To book an experience, visit Hunter Valley Paddock to Plate on Facebook.

Fluffballs bison #huntervalleypaddocktoplate #bison #huntervalley

Posted by Hunter Valley Paddock to Plate on Tuesday, 16 July 2019

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