This is by far the number one question we get while giving a tour or speaking with guests. What is the difference between a bison and buffalo?
The answer is easy-ish! The Iconic American Buffalo and Bison are the same thing! Bison Bison is the scientific name for American Buffalo. As easy as that answer is, there is always more to the story.
For years many dog food companies would market their dog food as having buffalo as the number one ingredient and even putting a picture of an American buffalo on the packaging. Deceptively enough, the buffalo in some of these dog foods was actually imported water buffalo from Asia. The water buffalo is not an American buffalo. They do not have a rich American History full of controversy and triumph or an incredible comeback story. Water buffalo have been domesticated for centuries and raising them is comparable to raising beef cattle. Back in 2018 the AAFCO ( Association of American Feed Control Officials) organized a group called Buffalo/Bison Workgroup. After several meetings and even a legal ruling, it was mandated that if a dog food contains AMERICAN BUFFALO it will list BISON. If it lists buffalo, it is most likely water buffalo.
Following this fight over the name of our iconic American Mammal, the National Buffalo Association changed their name to National Bison Association and the Minnesota Buffalo Association changed theirs to Minnesota Bison Association. A lot of producers still use the names interchangeably.
The name buffalo will always be a sacred to many and we here at Sunset Hills Bison will always use the name buffalo and bison when talking about our herd.