Our History

About us

How It All Began…

The Bredthauers suffered through the farm crisis of the early 1980’s, enduring high interest rates, falling commodity prices and storms that took their toll on livestock. In 1992 they moved to their present location 5 miles south of Broken Bow, NE on 320 acres of pasture, ready to make a new start. With Marty working an off-farm job, they no longer depended on the farm to support their family but did hope to get some supplemental income from it.

A family vacation in 1993 to Fort Robinson, NE piqued their interest in buffalo. The Bredthauers took a tour of the herd and talked to the people who took care of them. They were glad to recommend some resources to help them learn more about the animals. Over the next few months, the Bredthauer house began to accumulate such books as The Bison Breeders Handbook and “Bison World” (Available from Bison Central). These were read not only by Marty and Karen, but also by their sons Troy, who was 13 at the time, and Lance, who was 10.

They decided that marketing the meat would be most profitable, so they tried eating it several times to determine if they really liked it, and they did! They also read about all the health benefits of bison.

The literature assured them that the demand for bison far exceeded the supply, so this was sure to be a successful business. In addition to the meat, there was also a demand for the skulls, hides, and other by-products. It sounded like the ideal market to get into.

That same fall, there happened to be an ad in their local newspaper for 4 buffalo for sale about 20 miles from where they lived. In January of 1994, they purchased their first 4 buffalo – a 6 year old cow, a 3 year old bull, a yearling bull, and a heifer calf. That summer, the cow had a heifer calf of its own, and so their herd was growing.

A Year Later

A year later, their now 2 year old bull was ready to go to market. But you don’t just take a buffalo to your local sale barn. Instead, the Bredthauers took him to a packing plant that had recently started processing buffalo. They wanted to keep some meat for themselves, but they also planned to start selling some of it. Feeling industrious and pioneer-ish they also tried tanning the hide and cleaning and bleaching the skull themselves.

Word got around that they would be selling buffalo meat and several people said they were interested in buying some. They decided to have an open house for people to come see the buffalo, taste some samples, and buy some meat. They ran a few ads on the local radio station and put some posters up around town. To their surprise, they had nearly 300 people come and close to $1000 in meat sales. They thought they had struck a gold mine!

However, the Bredthauers soon discovered that people were not flocking to their door to buy meat, so their next step was to come up with a way to sell the meat in other locations. Marty built a cart to put under a freezer so it could be easily loaded in and out of a stock trailer. They took this to several towns over the next few months. It worked, but it was not very convenient to load and unload the freezer all the time.

The following year, they purchased a utility trailer that would hold 3 freezers as well as their road signs and sales supplies. The back opened up to be their “store” and this trailer traveled around Nebraska for several years. In 2010 they upgraded again to a “log cabin” trailer/store which is much more convenient and comfortable, especially in the winter.


Today they have a herd of around 100 animals including cows, bulls, young calves, yearlings and 2 year-olds. Meat is sold year-round through the “Log Cabin Store” and at various retail stores.

The Bredthauers’ customer base has grown from curious samplers to loyal repeat customers who appreciate the quality and the health benefits of their meat.

In summary, the Bredthauers say this business has certainly not been a gold mine. But more important than the money, they started it as a family project. It has been a good learning experience for their children who have been a vital part of the workforce. Their family has grown in number as well as size over the past 20 years. Daughters Brooke and Kelsey have grown up with the buffalo.

They now have grandchildren who recognize “bison” and will tell you what a bison says.

The business has not been all sunshine. There have been droughts, market swings, learning curves, and lots of hard work. But the Bredthauers see it as a way of using the resources God has given them and multiplying them for the good of the land, the environment, and for the health of other people. And best of all, it’s a way of life they enjoy as a family and can share with others.



Interesting facts about Bison


These animals, which once roamed North America by the hundreds of thousands, became nearly extinct a little more than 100 years ago. It was estimated that fewer than 100 bison remained when the government stepped in to protect the remaining ones. Parks such as Yellowstone became a refuge and a few farmers began to contain and protect them. By 1992 there were an estimated 150,000 bison in North America. Current estimates are about 350,000 in North America.

Although they are commonly called buffalo, the correct name is bison. “Buffalo” may mean water or cape buffalo from Asia or Africa. “American Buffalo” however, is also correct, so the terms are used interchangeably. Bison may appear to be awkward, but they are quite agile, able to run up to 40 mph and jump a 6-foot fence. Mature bulls will often weigh over 2000 pounds, but they don’t reach full maturity until they are about 8 years old. They have no natural predators other than man, and a buffalo will stand its own against a grizzly bear.

Cows will usually have their first calf at 3 years and may continue to produce a calf each year until they are 20 to 30 years old. Bulls are left with the herd year-round. Gestation is 9 months; calves are usually born in May or June. The calves weigh about 40 pounds and are orange when they are born. They rarely have calving problems.

The herd grows fat during the summer and fall feeding on grass. During the fall they turn dark brown as their winter coat comes in. Their metabolism rate drops and they survive partially on the fat they have accumulated during the fall. If there is sufficient grass left from the summer they do not require any additional feed during the winter. If needed, they are fed prairie hay, but they require only about half the amount of food required during the summer. Snow and cold weather don’t bother them; they will face into a storm rather than try to move away from it. They also tolerate heat well but are bothered by flies and biting insects.

The uniqueness of the bison business attracts the interest of others. The Bredthauers have been interviewed and featured in newspapers, magazines, television stories, and on public radio. They do not offer formal tours but do welcome visitors to the ranch if they call ahead.