Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo, which are not to be confused with American plains buffalo or Bison, are part of the bovine group of animals, cloven footed and with four teats. They are however, unable to mate with cattle, having an entirely different genetic make-up.

They can calve every year under careful management carrying their calf for an average ten and a half months. They are docile and intelligent animals often tended by young children in South East Asia. They should not be confused with the African Cape Buffalo often seen on wildlife programmes which are unpredictable at the best of times. They are not related to the Cape buffalo and cannot interbreed with them.

There are two types of Water Buffalo, the river and the swamp. The swamp type buffaloes are limited primarily to South East Asia and are used for draught work and meat production. The river type is to be found from India westwards.

The video above is of Asian Water Buffalo that are similar to the ones we keep, but in their own habitat.

Of the river type there is the Mediterranean type predominantly kept in Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, although herds have been established in other parts of Europe.

Today around 100,000 are milked in Italy to produce Mozzarella cheese, and Romania boasts probably twice the number of Italian buffalo.

picture of a herd of buffalo eating food

Our buffalo are mixed Romanian and Italian and we are using Italian genetics to attempt to improve milk yields, conformation and temperament, without losing overall hardiness and resistance to the complaints that beset the modern dairy cow.

The buffalo suits our pastoral system well, being more contented with a more extensive, less industrialised system.

picture of a mother buffalo with her calf

Their lactation rarely exceeds 7 months, meaning that after calving in May or June they are ready to dry off when there is no grass left growing in the fields, at the end of the year, when we are also ready for a break from milking.