Here in Central Illinois and particularly in Piatt County, we see a lot of corn and soybeans growing and very few grazing animals. In fact the joke around here is if the plants in the field are tall and green – they’re corn plants, and if the plants are short and green – they’re soybean plants.
So here we are in the heart of corn and soybean country, you can imagine the surprise when you see bison (buffalo) grazing just outside of Monticello, Illinois. This is the farm of Terry Lieb and his family.
On any warm, sunny day, there will be vehicles parked along the side of the 1125 East Road with people watching the bison herd out grazing. Right now, the herd is being fed hay until the pastures green up. They are truly amazing animals to see.
Terry has always been fascinated by buffalo and bought his first group of six animals at a farm sale in 2002. Terry along with his two sons, Josh and Jake, take care of their herd of 30 buffalo. The Liebs have taken 60 acres of highly erodible cropland and converted to a series of pastures for their bison herd.
According to Terry, bison bulls weigh between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds full-grown and they can run up to 35 miles an hour and turn on a dime. “They don’t moo – they grunt. When they’re in pasture, they’re pretty docile, but they’re wild animals, and you have to respect them,” Lieb says.
The Liebs do take a few of the animals to a processing plant each year and sell the meat locally. As Terry says, “I wasn’t looking to get rich off the bison or anything. I just like them. If I didn’t sell any meat, I’d probably still have them.”
To learn more about Lieb’s bison farm and food products, please visit liebfarms.com or call 217-762-9277.