THE WATER BUFFALO



THE WATER BUFFALO

THE JOHN DEERE OF THE BUFFALO WORLD-WIDE

  • This section will contain information pertaining to the Water Buffalo ( (Bubbles bubalisor domestic Asian water buffalo is a large bovid (Cow Family) originating in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China. 

  • Much of the information is about breeding as this is about a specie that has diversification in DNA and location.

  • Today, it is also found in Europe, Australia, North America, South America and some African countries.   It is the most diverse and prolific member of the buffalo family with several sub-species.

  • The wild water buffalo (Bubalus Arnee) native to Southeast Asia is considered a different species, but most likely represents the ancestor of the domestic water buffalo.Two extant types of domestic water buffalo are recognized based on morphological and behavioral criteria – the river buffalo of South Asia and further west to the Balkans, Egypt, and Italy, and the swamp buffalo, found from Assam in the West through Southeast Asia to the Yangtze Valley of China in the East.

  • The origins of the domestic water buffalo types are debated, although results of a phylogenetic study indicate that the swamp type may have originated in China and was domesticated about 4,000 years ago, while the river type may have originated in India and was domesticated about 5,000 years ago.  Water buffalo were traded from the Indus Valley Civilization to Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, 2500 BC by the Meluhhas.  The seal of a scribe employed by an Akkadian king shows the sacrifice of water buffalo.

ASIA - More than 95.8% of the world population of water buffalo are kept in Asia, including both river and swamp types.  The water buffalo population in India numbered over 97.9 million head in 2003, representing 56.5% of the world population. They are primarily of the river type, with 10 well-defined breeds comprising Badhawari, Murrah, Nili-Ravi, Jafarabadi, Marathwada, Mehsana, Nagpuri, Pandharpuri, Toda, and Surti. Swamp buffalo occur only in small areas in north-eastern India and are not distinguished into breeds.

In 2003, the second-largest population lived in China, with 22.76 million head, all of the swamp type with breeds kept only in the lowlands, and other breeds kept only in the mountains; as of 2003, 3.2 million swamp-type carabao buffalo were in the Philippines, nearly three million swamp buffalo were in Vietnam, and 772,764 buffalo were in Bangladesh. 

About 750,000 head were estimated in Sri Lanka in 1997.  In Japan, water buffalo is domestic animal throughout the Ryukyuan Islands or Okinawa prefecture. It was also recorded that 889,246 buffalo were in Nepal.

The water buffalo is the main dairy animal in Pakistan, with 23.47 million head in 2010.[28] Of these, 76% are kept in the Punjab. The rest of them are mostly in the province of  Sindh. Breeds used are NiliRavi, Kundi, and Azi Kheli.[29] Karachi has the largest population of water buffalos for an area where fodder is not grown, consisting of 350,000 head kept mainly for milking.

In Thailand, the number of water buffalo dropped from more than 3 million head in 1996 to less than 1.24 million head in 2011.  Slightly over 75% of them are kept in the country's northeastern region. The statistics also indicate that by the beginning of 2012, less than one million were in the country, partly as a result of illegal shipments to neighboring countries where sales prices are higher than in Thailand. 

Water buffalo are also present in the southern region of Iraq in the Mesopotamian Marshes. The draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes by Saddam Hussein was an attempt to punish the South for the 1991 uprisings in Iraq.  

After 2003 and the Firdos Square statue destruction, these lands were re-flooded and a 2007 report on Maysan and Dhi Qar shows a steady increase in the number of water buffalo. The report puts the number at 40,008 head in those two provinces

At least 130 million domestic water buffalo exist, and more people depend on them than on any other domestic animal.  They are especially suitable for tilling rice fields, and their milk is richer in fat and protein than that of dairy cattle. 

The large feral population of northern Australia became established in the late 19th century, and smaller feral herds are in New Guinea, Tunisia, and northeastern Argentina.  Feral herds are also present in New Britain, Australia, New Ireland, Irian Jaya, Papua, New Guinea, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, and Uruguay.

Like cows water buffalos may be purchased for stock or use. They are a farm commodity which relate to them having the largest diversification and usage throughout the world.  The prices on water buffalo are about on par with pure-bred cattle prices, maybe a little more, but not by much. Pregnant heifers go for upwards of $,000 and two year old heifers go for as much as $2,000. You can pick up a weanling for about $750, as well as an older cow for that same price.


ADDENDA  and VARIATION

  • The skin of river buffalo is black, but some specimens may have dark, slate-colored skin. 
  • Swamp buffalo have a grey skin at birth, but become slate blue later. 
  • Albinoids are present in some populations. 
  • River buffalo have comparatively longer faces, smaller girths, and bigger limbs than swamp buffalo. 
  • Swamp buffalo are heavy-bodied and stockily built; the body is short and the belly large. They range in weight from 660–1,210 lb. but weights of over 2,200 lb. have also been observed.
  • The swamp buffalo has 48 chromosomes; the river buffalo has 50 chromosomes. The two types do not readily interbreed, but fertile offspring can occur. Buffalo-cattle hybrids have not been observed to occur, but the embryos of such hybrids reach maturity in laboratory experiments, albeit at lower rates than non-hybrids.
  • The rumen of the water buffalo has important differences from that of other ruminants.  It contains a larger population of bacteria, particularly the cellulolytic bacteria, lower protozoa, and higher fungi zoospores. In addition, higher rumen ammonia nitrogen (NH4-N) and higher pH have been found as compared to those in cattle.
  • River buffalo prefer deep water. Swamp buffalo prefer to wallow in mudholes which they make with their horns. During wallowing, they acquire a thick coating of mud.
  • Both are well adapted to a hot and humid climate with temperatures ranging from 32 °F in the winter to 86 °F and greater in the summer.  Water availability is important in hot climates, since they need wallows, rivers, or splashing water to assist in thermoregulation. Some breeds are adapted to saline seaside shores and saline sandy terrain.

FOOD

  • Water buffalo thrive on many aquatic plants and during floods, will graze submerged, raising their heads above the water and carrying quantities of edible plants. They eat reeds, and some of these plants are of great value to local peoples. Others, such as E. crassipes, are a major problem in some tropical valleys and water buffalo may help to keep waterways clear.
  • Green fodders are used widely for intensive milk production and for fattening. Many fodder crops are conserved as hay, chaffed, or pulped. Fodders include alfalfa, the leaves, stems or trimmings of banana, cassava, Mangelwurzel, esparto, Leucaena leucocephala and kenaf, maize, oats, Pandanus, peanut, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane, bagasse, and turnips. Citrus pulp and pineapple wastes have been fed safely to buffalo. 
  • In Egypt, whole sun-dried dates are fed to milk buffalo up to 25% of the standard feed mixture.

REPRODUCTION

  • Swamp buffalo generally become reproductive at an older age than river breeds. Young males in Egypt, India, and Pakistan are first mated at about 3.0–3.5 years of age, but in Italy they may be used as early as 2 years of age. 
  • Successful mating behavior may continue until the animal is 12 years or even older. A good river male can impregnate 100 females in a year. A strong seasonal influence on mating occurs. Heat stress reduces libido
  • Although buffalo are polyoestrous, their reproductive efficiency shows wide variation throughout the year. 
  • Buffalo cows exhibit a distinct seasonal change in displaying estrous  conception rate, and calving rate.
  •  The age at first estrous of heifers varies between breeds from 13–33 months, but mating at the first estrous is often infertile and usually deferred until they are 3 years old. 
  • Gestation lasts from 281–334 days, but most reports give a range between 300 and 320 days. 
  • Swamp buffalo carry their calves for one or two weeks longer than river buffalo. It is not rare to find buffalo that continue to work well at the age of 30, and instances of a working life of 40 years are recorded.

GREECE

  • Water Buffalo are now popular in Greece, according to Vasilis Bambinos  professor at the Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, buffalo farmers have 25% less costs than cattle farmers, since they do not have to use any kind of special food for the animals.
  • Water buffalo farming is ideal near lakes or rivers, especially in northern Greece. Most farmers are located near Lake Kerkini in Serres. In fact, there are a total of 30 water buffalo farms across Greece (4,000 animals), and 20 of them (3,000 animals) are located near Lake Kerkini.
  • Before World War II, there were at least 70,000 water buffalos in Greece, explained Bampidis. However, their numbers increased dramatically, reaching a total of 384 animals in 1984, due to immigration. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, numerous Greeks left for other countries, thus abandoning their farms.
  • Only five out of the 30 farms are actually producing buffalo milk, which is known for its beneficial effects on the human body, especially for people with allergy problems, psoriasis, eczema or lactose intolerance. Furthermore, fresh milk is especially recommended for people who are physically weak or sick.
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