# Have you ever wondered how much a Bison weighs?

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1 Have you ever wondered how much a Bison weighs? (Activities using prediction, hypothesis and one year of weight data) Bison roam over the tallgrass prairie at the Konza Prairie Biological Station. Out here on the prairie the bison calves are usually born in the spring (April and May) and are fed their mother s milk until they start eating grass at around 6 months of age. The bison at Konza Prairie have a large open pasture of approximately 2,500 acres on which they roam freely. These bison feed on the grass and other prairie plants and are not feed extra grass or hay not even in the winter. Every year at the end of October the bison at Konza Prairie are rounded up and weighed on a special scale. The weight of the bison can give scientists some information. 1. During what month of the year do most bison calves start to eat grass for the first time? 2. How much time do new bison calves have to eat grass before they are weighed in October? 3. Who do you think would weigh more, a bison cow (adult female) or a bison bull (adult male)? 4. Do you think all of the bison calves weigh the same in October? 5. Find the weight for the lightest calf. Now find the weight for the heaviest calf. What is the difference between their weights? 6. Why do you think there is so much variation in the calf weights? Think about the kinds of things that could make a calf weigh less weight.

2 Bison weight data : Weight Ear tag color and number Female calves: 162 pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange Male calves: 180 pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange pounds Orange Cows: 420 pounds Yellow (adult females) 550 pounds Yellow pounds Yellow pounds Yellow pounds Yellow pounds Yellow pounds Yellow ,062 pounds Yellow Bulls: 1,266 pounds Yellow (adult males) 1,338 pounds Yellow 637 1,342 pounds Yellow ,408 pounds Yellow ,586 pounds Yellow ,602 pounds Yellow 339 1,612 pounds Yellow ,616 pounds Yellow Ear tag colors: Orange ear tags are found in animals that were born between Yellow ear tags are found in animals that were born between The 1 st number in each ear tag corresponds to the YEAR the bison was born. E.g. Yellow 421 was born in 2004.

3

4 Suggested activities: The bison outlines may be reused if they are laminated. Background info: bison babies are called calves or a calf, bison adult females are called cows, and bison adult males are called bulls. Bison weight ranges: Calf Cow Bull 150 pounds 380 pounds 400 pounds 1,100 pounds 1,200 pounds 2,000 pounds 1. Make photocopies of the bison outlines. Write one of the provided bison weights in the center of each (use each weight only once). Pass them out to your students and ask them these questions: Which bison weights do you think are calves? Which bison weights do you think are cows? Which bison weights do you think are bulls? 2. Have your students stand up and put their bison in order in a line on the floor from the lowest weight (on the left side) up to the highest weight (on the right side). Then ask them: Is it surprising how different the weights are in a herd? What is the difference is between the smallest bison calf s weight and the largest bison bull s weight? Is it surprising how widely different the weights can be in one species? 3. More challenging: Have the students refer to their bison. Give them the table of bison weights and ask them to find their bison and determine: Their bison s gender What is their bison s ear tag number Their bison s age 4. Construct a pictograph on the white board and have 8 columns divided by age: 6 mo.,1,2,3,4,5,6,7 years of age. Give the students the weight and ear tag data and have them determine their bison s age. Have them bring their bison up to the board and see what age is the most abundant in the bison herd.

5 Female calves

6 Male calves

7 Cows ,062

8 Bulls 1,266 1,338 1,342 1,408 1,586 1,602 1,612 1,616

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