Home on The Range: Bison Roam at Cook’s Ranch in Wolcottville
Late last fall we had the pleasure of attending a LaSalle Grill dinner featuring bison from Cook’s Bison Ranch—a family farm in Wolcottville, Indiana. A few bites of tender bison loin (served with the chef ’s delectable roasted parsnip and blue cheese gratin) and we knew we needed to know more. We spoke with Jason Moore, the son-in-law of Cook’s founders, Wayne and Sharon Cook.
Edible Michiana: Tell us about Cook’s Bison Ranch.
Jason Moore: It all began in December of 1998—at least as far as the bison were concerned. The ranch itself started in 1939 with the purchase of a farm in the small town of Wolcottville. Grandpa Everett Cook purchased the farm—including a house, barn and 83 acres—for a grand total of $5,000. After being told it was the worst investment he had ever made, he was able to pay it off with two good years of popcorn. That agricultural spirit has continued on to the third generation.
After much research and joining the National Bison Association, we received our first 40 animals in December of 1998. What started as 40 animals on 87 acres has increased to 400 animals and 800 acres of farmland, in addition to raising single-sire herds with some of our local Amish neighbors.
EM: Why raise bison instead of cattle?
JM: We enjoy the bison advantage because they are more sustainable for the environment, require no special shelter and have a lower feed cost. Bison will also continue to produce calves nearly twice as long as cattle.
Our animals receive no growth hormones or stimulants, and we raise almost all our own hay and grain for feed.
Cook’s Bison Ranch believes that bison meat is the meat of the future. Bison is naturally tender, healthy and has no gamey flavor—and it’s delicious!
Look for Cook’s Bison on the menu at the LaSalle Grill, Evil Czech Brewery, Corndance Tavern, Scotty’s Brewhouse and the Chubby Trout. Cook’s Bison can also be purchased at participating Martin’s Supermarkets, Garden Patch Market, the Purple Porch Coop and Maple City Market.