Ken and Peter met during the summer of 1994. Ken was managing one of the largest buffalo ranches in the west (over 3,500 animals) and Peter was just getting into the buffalo business (with 20 heifer calves). They got along pretty well; Peter learned a lot about ranching from Ken and Ken learned a lot about business from Peter.
By the year 2000, each had progressed in their individual endeavors. Ken had bought his own ranch in Kansas (Homestead Ranch) and Peter's herd had grown to 600 buffalo cows on his Elk Mountain Ranch. That year they decided to form Great Plains Bison, LLC, dba Nature's Prairie, specifically to market the meat they produced. (They originally called the company Great Plains Bison because, technically, what most of us call buffalo are really bison. Buffalo are those similar creatures in Africa - Cape Buffalo - and in southeast Asia - the water buffalo. The specie, bison, is a unique animal and the largest mammal in North America.) Then in early 2003 they changed their name to The Buffalo Guys, LLC, since that is what everyone was calling them. Nothing changed but the name and folks seemed to like their new handle.
In the summer of 2002 direct sales of their buffalo meat through the internet began. Growth steadily continues as people discover how great buffalo tastes and that all buffalo steaks are not created equal. A very cost-effective system of shipping product anywhere in the US has made their fine products affordable and available anywhere.
They determined early on that since the demand for buffalo steaks was already good, they would especially concentrate on developing and marketing products made from other portions of the animal. Their product offerings have expanded greatly over time.
In 2002, their initial grocery product, Buffaloaf™, was completed. It started with four varieties including Old Fashioned, Mexican, Italian and Gourmet. All four varieties were 11 ounces, fully cooked, sauced, and reheatable in 5 minutes. Marketing of Buffaloaf began in late 2003. Unfortunately, the marketplace was not very receptive to this new type of meatloaf and all four varieties were later discontinued in 2006. The Buffalo Guys are currently studying alternative configurations for these tasty loaves. Perhaps they will re-release them as a whole meal sometime in the future!?
In the spring of 2003 a tasty and very healthy hot dog was developed and marketed. This gluten free, All Natural Hot Dog contains no MSG, nitrites or other chemicals and it tastes great! Bon Appetite Magazine listed this hot dog in their "Taste Test - Top Dogs" as “The Fit Frank…” in August of 2004. These hot dogs still remain one of their best sellers.
Also in the spring of 2003 the jerky recipes they had developed earlier were revised and improved. Their new jerky is free of gluten, beef, MSG and nitrites. It meets the USDA standards for an All Natural Jerky. Marketing of their new jerky line began in July of 2003.
In the spring of 2005 two more retail-ready products were introduced; Ground Buffalo in a one pound frozen brick and Buffalo Burgers in a one pound pack containing four quarter pound patties. Both of these items were much requested by their grocery customers and grocers love the attractive and functional retail-ready packaging.
In the spring of 2006 Ken and Peter rolled out their new line of tasty Gourmet Buffalo Sausages. These are made to the same high standards that their customers have come to expect; namely they are gluten free, contain no msg, no nitrites or beef and are classified as USDA All Natural. Three tasty varieties are offered; Andouille, Polish and Bratwurst.
Also in 2006 Peter sold his ranch at Elk Mountain (he kept the hotel) and purchased ranches adjoining Ken. This newly christened venture, Beaver Creek Buffalo Co. LLC, allows The Buffalo Guys to focus their ranching efforts in one location and will also allow for the advanced research and development of new and innovative production methods. Also, through Beaver Creek Buffalo, they have been able to expand sales of wholes, halves and quarters of buffalo delivered to the Front Range of Colorado, SE Wyoming, Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado. If you have an interest in this offering go to www.BeaverCreekBuffalo.com or www.TheHomesteadRanch.com.
In 2007, The Buffalo Guys reached grocery distribution of over 1200 stores in all 50 states and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands! 2007 also saw the update of the steak packaging so that they too could be offered in groceries nationwide. We also added the London Broil/Culotte Steak,Premium Steak Seasoning, Chili Blend Seasoning and our Smoked Dog Bone Pet Treat line too. Never a dull moment here!
In 2008, The Buffalo Guys became a QVC approved vendor. Look for our great buffalo meat on QVC. QVC will offer our buffalo burgers and buffalo steaks. We also added a line of very high-quality 100% American made silk ties. The Buffalo Guys sponsored a buffalo grower’s seminar to help folks grow more buffalo. It was booked solid!
Ken and Peter are quite sensitive about how their animals and lands are treated, so they go to great ends to assure that they are careful stewards of both. They both believe that the bison is a regal animal which deserves respect for its independent nature and the part it played in the native cultures of the Great Plains and our nation's early history. Thus, it is important to them that the bison remain as uninfluenced by man's many technological interventions as possible.
Consequently, none of their animals receive growth hormones; artificial insemination is not practiced; the estrus period of the cows is never manipulated; no animal by-products are fed to their animals and sub-therapeutic medicines are never used. The animals breed on their own schedule; they have their calves at their own speed in open pastures, and they grow as their own genes dictate. They depend on their wild-animal-immune-systems to protect them from most illnesses.
The lands they manage are rotationally-grazed and are monitored yearly to ensure the range lands health and vitality. Chemical, non-natural solutions are never used when a natural or organic solution is available.
As demand for their products continues to grow, other select growers are invited to join in producing for The Buffalo Guys, LLC. These other growers are carefully reviewed to assure that the same production methods are followed. In this fashion, the positive changes they envision are being wrought on the land, the buffalo herds and in the lives of the buffalo growers and their consumers.