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WHITE, WHITE BABY
by Mackey Torres
Jun 13, 2014 | 230 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This white bison is not albino. It is a rare breed of bison and Mike Barber hopes to raise a baker’s dozen of them.
This white bison is not albino. It is a rare breed of bison and Mike Barber hopes to raise a baker’s dozen of them.
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PAPALOTE – The odds were stacked against Mike Barber, the ranch manager of Papalote Ranch in south Bee County. According to various news outlets, the odds of white bison being born are one out of a million.

Barber has seven, three of which that had been born in the last 30 days.

But, he’s not done. He has bigger plans.

“I want to have 12 white females and one white bull,” Barber said. “Just about anybody can have a brown one. I just want to be different. I want it to stand out; (be) unique.”

Papalote Ranch has been home to bison for the last 10 years. Barber didn’t get into the aspect of white bison until about five years ago.

Barber has developed a process to increase his chances of having white bison. With the white hair color gene being recessive, Barber pairs white bulls with white females and brown females that have come from white bulls to better his odds.

Then, nature has to take its course.

“With the exotic animals, there’s no certainty,” Barber said. “You hope that they’re bred. You do everything you can to enhance that to happen.”

So far, he’s had incredible success. Of the seven white bison, two of them are cows, one is a heifer, one is a bull, and three of them are calves. Including brown bison, Barber has 23 total bison.

A normal bison calf at weaning age is about $500. If brought up to 1,000 pounds, they’re about $1,000. A white bison at weaning age average between $3,500-$4,000.

However, Barber doesn’t plan to sell his white bison until he has his herd.

While the white bison are certainly an attraction, Barber has other animals on the 2,600-acre ranch that are certain to catch one’s attention. There are animals from five different continents, including oryx, camels, zebras, wildebeests and llamas.

Along with taking care of the animals, Barber has 300 acres of farm land where they farm corn and sesame, along with producing hay.

This is what he has wanted to do since he was young.

It’s his passion. It’s his dream.

“I love what I do. It’s hard work; seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Barber said. “The animals don’t know it’s a holiday; they don’t know it’s Christmas; they don’t know it’s New Years; they still want to eat.”

Although the work may be exhausting, Barber follows a motto that lets him plow through.

“Can ’til can’t,” Barber said. “I go from as long as I can, until I can’t, and that starts from 5:30 in the morning until probably dark 30. You never know what you’re going to be faced around the next corner. There’s nothing normal about a day.”

With Barber at the helm for many years, the owner asked one thing from him.

“The owner of the ranch wanted everybody’s first impression, when they come into the ranch, to be ‘wow.’” Barber said. “Hopefully, we will achieve that; we’re working on it pretty hard.”

With a diverse cast of animals, along with the steadily growing white bison, Barber is sure to generate wows.

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