Carcass Characteristics and Meat Quality of Bison, Buffalo, and Yak

  • Manuel JuárezEmail author
  • Óscar López-Campos
  • Nuria Prieto
  • Jordan Roberts
  • Jayson Galbraith
  • Sebastiana Failla
  • Jennifer L. Aalhus


Bison (Bison bison), buffalo (Bubalus arnee), and yak (Bos grunniens) belong to the bovine family and represent alternative meat species to beef cattle (Bos taurus and Bos indicus). This chapter presents a broad overview related to the production, carcass characteristics, and meat quality (appearance, nutritional value, and palatability) of these three species. Bison are primarily raised for meat in North America and their production has many similarities to beef cattle. While the majority of buffalo and yak are raised in Asia primarily for dairy and draught power; mature animals are harvested for meat at the end of their productive lives. This leads to a wide range in slaughter ages and weights in buffalo and yak. Carcass characteristics vary among and within the three species with influences from age, gender, genetics, and size. The meat from these three species is nutrient dense, but composition varies according to the diet of the animals. Similar to beef, the tenderness of water buffalo and yak meat are negatively impacted by high age at slaughter. Meats from youthful water buffalo and bison have comparable tenderness to beef when raised under similar conditions. The tenderness of meat from youthful yak is also reported to be acceptable. The distinct production of these species contributes to differences in meat colour characteristics. The lightness of meat in these three species corresponds to differences in myoglobin concentration. While there are many gaps in our understanding of these species, research suggests meat characteristics can be improved through diet and production management.


Bison Buffalo Yak Meat quality Carcass yield Nutrients 



We thank Agriculture and Agri-food Canada for its support.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Juárez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Óscar López-Campos
    • 1
  • Nuria Prieto
    • 1
  • Jordan Roberts
    • 1
  • Jayson Galbraith
    • 2
  • Sebastiana Failla
    • 3
  • Jennifer L. Aalhus
    • 1
  1. 1.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe Research CentreLacombeCanada
  2. 2.Alberta Agriculture and ForestryCamroseCanada
  3. 3.Centro di ricerca per la produzione delle carni ed il miglioramento geneticoRomeItaly

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