Although bison have roamed the plains of Canada for centuries, the commercial bison industry in Canada is only about 30 years old. The bison industry organized itself under the Animal Pedigree Act and established the Canadian Bison Association. The goals of the association included:

  1. To develop and promote the species and register bison pedigrees throughout Canada.
  2. To provide an umbrella organization for bison breeders in order to foster cooperation and communication for the betterment and development of the breed.
  3. To support all legally recognized organizations whose objectives are preserving and improving the bison species and safeguarding Canada's wildlife.
  4. To maintain breeding records, indicating origin and lines, of bison and its subspecies and to compile, preserve, and publish pertinent documents and data.
  5. To establish breed standards and maintain a registration system.

Using the cattle sector registry model, bison producers recognized the challenges and costs related to handling bison and collecting DNA to establish an individual bison registry. Attempts to establish a foundation herd fell short of the number of animals required to sustain a registry of wood and plains bison.  As the industry evolved, it was clear that the two bison breeds (often referred to as sub-species) – wood and plains bison were being raised with the growth in the number of wood/plains crosses.


Challenged by the inability to genetically differentiate between wood and plains bison, economic uncertainty and conservation interests in public herds, the Canadian Bison Association recognized a need to establish an economical process that would register either wood, plains or wood/plains cross herds based on records and phenotypic characteristics and herd history. It was recognized that maintaining three bison population streams could also serve as a source of wood and plains foundation stock for those producers who were prepared to collect and store DNA samples in support of the individual animal registry.



The Herd Registry Vision


The Canadian Bison Association will provide an economical infrastructure that will allow for the registration of wood, plains and wood/plains cross bison herds while concurrently supporting the infrastructure required to build wood and plains foundation stock and the evolution and growth of the individual bison registry.



Benefits of Registering Your Herd


If you register your plains, wood and/or cross herds here are the benefits:

  • You will have your name address, and other contact information included in the membership edition of Smoke Signals indicating the type of animals that you are producing. This will also include all members who have bison that are individually registered.
  • On the Canadian Bison Association Website your contact information will be included with a brief history of your operation and the type of animals you have for sale – wood, plains or crosses. This will also include all members who have bison that are individually registered.
  • With the appropriate information your wood or plains bison herds could serve as foundation stock for the individual registry should you want to participate.
  • New producers or expanding bison operations will have ready access to information on bison herds that will meet their production needs.

Registering your herd will provide additional exposure for your animals and make it easier for those buying breeding stock to identify stock that will best fit their breeding program. Buyers will be able to readily identify sources of wood, plains or crosses to incorporate into their herd. 


Letter to CBA Members from CBA President Mark Silzer HERE



Registering Your Herd is Easy


All producers who are members in good standing with the Canadian Bison Associations are eligible to participate in the herd registry.  

  1. Complete the application (3 Parts/forms) which includes:

    a) A herd history including but not limited to origin of herd animals, purchase documentation, and breed
        of the herd to be registered. Wood, plains or cross-bred herds are eligible. (Part 1)

    b) If available provide a list of animals individually identified. If animals are not individually identified
        provide the number of animals currently in the herd. Producers are encouraged to work towards
        individually identifying all animals within the herd.  (Part 3)

    c) All herd bulls are to be photographed and photos submitted with the application to be kept on file. In
        addition a minimum of six random herd photos representative of male and female animals in the
        herd will be required. (Part 2)

    d) A declaration that the information to the best of the producer’s knowledge is true.

    f)  Return the completed application along with an application fee of $150.00 to the Canadian Bison
        Association.  This will also include all members who have bison that are individually registered.

    g) If the herd registration is received by August 31, 2014, your information will be included in the
        January 2015 Membership edition of Smoke Signals in the appropriate breed section.

  2. The Canadian Bison Association through the Pedigree Committee reserves the right to request additional information regarding any application being made and also reserves the right to do an onsite inspection of any herd for which an application to enter the herd registry has been made. If deemed necessary an onsite inspection will only be made with prior notice to the owner of the herd in question and conducted at a mutually agreed upon time.    

Herd Registry part 1 HERE

Herd Registry part 2 HERE

Herd Registry part 3 HERE



Annual Review


All participants in the herd registry will be required to file an annual review with the Canadian Bison Association. The review must be completed and submitted by January 31st of each year. The annual review will capture any changes to the breeding animal component of the herd including new additions such as breeding bulls or replacement females, their herd of origin and in the case of sales the destination herd. Any new additions to a registered herd must be of the same breed to maintain the breed integrity of the herd.


Plains or wood bison moving into a crossbred herd will have the breed status of that herd and would only be eligible for introduction into another registered plains or wood herd if individually registered.


Pictures of any breeding bull additions made during the year must be submitted to the CBA along with the annual review documents.


An annual review filing fee of $50.00 to cover administrative costs must accompany the completed documentation.


All bison moved to or from the herd must have a bison RFID and visual tag. The tag numbers and information on gender, date of birth (or estimated date of birth) would be recorded.



DNA Collection


It is recommended that DNA samples be collected on all animals entering the breeding herd once the herd is registered. These samples can either be stored or sent to the CBA recommended genetic lab for testing. By having access to either DNA samples or profiles, producers will have options for future genetic identification.





All herds are eligible for the registry but animals within the registered herd must be of the breed under which they are registered (i.e., Plains, Wood). Wood/plains cross herds are eligible and encouraged to participate.


In order to maintain the integrity of the herd registry, herds once registered can only introduce replacements from an already registered herd of the same breed.


If a producer with a registered herd wants to introduce a non-registered wood or plains bison into a registered herd of the same bred, that is possible following inspection by the Pedigree Committee and at the producer’s expense.


Public and private herds are eligible to participate in the herd registry even though the filing requirements will apply to private herds.


Producers should make every effort to breed for the characteristics of the breed under which the herd is registered.


Any breed stock originating from a registered plains or wood  herd will be eligible for registration in the individual animal registry providing the following conditions are met. The animals must be inspected and approved by the pedigree committee; applicable fees must accompany the application and DNA samples retained.


Herds registered, whether individually or collectively following the guidelines of the Conservation Best Management practices being developed by the CBA will be designated as conservation herds within the CBA registry.


Sample CBA Herd Certificate of Registration HERE