Iconic Ann Arbor Township bison herd wins 11 awards in regional show

Domino's Farms' bison have brought home high honors at the Eastern Bison Association (EBA) Show for the past 12 years, but this year they outdid themselves. The bison, a popular sight at the intersection of US-23 and M-14 in Ann Arbor Township, won 11 awards this month at the EBA’s 27th annual “Show and Sale” in Harrisburg, Penn., their best showing yet.

"If you're going to breed something, then you should breed the best," says Todd Crocker, the grounds and ranch manager at Domino’s Farms. "We're the largest award-winning show herd of bison in the state of Michigan."

Domino’s Farms' bison triumphed in the following categories: Heifer Calves, Pen of 2 Heifer Calves, Yearling Heifers, and Bull Calves. In total, Domino’s Farms scored nine top-three category finishes. They also earned the Reserve Champion Male honor, and bragging rights as Producer of the Year.

"I'm really proud that we've got to this level. It took a lot to get here," Crocker says. "Our goal is to be the best representation of true American bison."

Crocker has been working for Domino's Farms for 32 years. He says the secret to his ever-evolving success is putting in hard work and mastering genetics. He says Domino's Farms staff have toiled arduously to reestablish the bison lineage.

John Petz, Domino's Farms director of real estate and public affairs, tells the local herd's origin story with flair. He explains that the landmark complex reflects Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan's passion for Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural design. The first bison arrived on the complex in 1993, after experiments with some not-quite-right forerunner animals, such as some Texas Longhorn steer.

"Tom is of a firm belief that the prairie style is the iconic American architecture," Petz says. "Eventually, it felt right to him to match this iconic architecture with an iconic American herd animal." 

Both Petz and Crocker are looking forward to continued growth as the year progresses. Crocker says calving season starts as soon as April, and Domino's Farms tenants look forward to observing the process with binoculars. 

"We're going to continue to show and continue to manage the genetics here to build better and better and better," Crocker says. "And, if we have a good calving season, hopefully we'll be able to show in Denver next year at the Gold Trophy Show and Sale, the biggest bison show in the country."

Jaishree Drepaul is a writer and editor based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.

Photo by Bodhi Bruder.
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