All About The Buffalo
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The buffalo is a multipurpose animal. Not only is it a better source of milk than the cow, it also provides meat and works as a natural source of energy.
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Buffalo - Many aspects, One animal

Of all the domestic animals, the Asian water buffalo holds the greatest promise and potential for production. The buffalo had been severely neglected  by the authorities until 1974, when the  Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) first signposted the water buffalo as the most neglected animal. In the intervening years, FAO has more than made up for it by providing leadership and inspiration to national and international organizations in developing water buffalo production.

Still, much knowledge and original thought remains locked in the secretive silence of the non-communicator. What Peter Curtis calls the "failure-to-publish" syndrome, impeding the transfer of technology.

Milk, buffalo: The production of buffalo milk in the Asian-Pacific region exceeds 45 million tonnes annually of which over 30 million tonnes are produced in India alone. With selective breeding, improved management and the establishment of more dairy herds, milk yields are increasing worldwide. The individual 3,000 litre-per-lactation female, considered a record 30 years ago, is now common. There are many which yield 4,000 litres in a lactation of 300 days. And, some have even attained a record of 5,000 litres. The potential for increased milk production, therefore, exists.

The high-yielding Murrah is the Holstein-Friesian of the buffalo world. There is no reason why the Murrah and other riverine breeds should not exceed the volumetric yield of the best milk cows. Buffalo milk contains about twice as much butterfat as cow milk. There is no physiological need for concentrate feed to maintain this level. When concentrates are fed, the fat content rises. When fed ad lib, it can exceed 15 per cent. Fed to excess, this figure can be much higher. The buffalo, in fact, releases unwanted fat in the milk and stores only a minimum in the body tissues.

Work, buffalo: Buffaloes are labor intensive and cost-effective. They are the most versatile of all work animals in the variety of tasks which they can be taught to undertake. All buffalo breeds have a strong milk/meat entity. However, presently the output of thousands of buffaloes is in the form of work energy rather than the direct provision of food as milk or meat. In economic terms, buffaloes are productive and efficient, especially in those agricultural countries where there is ample manpower and little motivation for mechanization.

Meat, buffalo: Recent investigations and trials have convincingly established the fact that when a buffalo is fed well and managed for early slaughter ( at a liveweight of 350 to 450 kg ), a yield of palatable, high-grade meat can be obtained at a competitive cost. A buffalo carcass has less fat, less bone and a higher proportion of muscle than a cattle carcass. Furthermore a buffalo carcass does not need the customary and costly chill hanging for a specific period to ensure the "eatability" of the product.

It is well known that the buffalo is remarkable for its feed conversion ability, but we do not yet understand how, or why, or whether that capacity can be further improved. The young buffalo calf achieves a daily weight gain of 800 grams without any supplement feed. Similarly, the power of the full-grown work-buffalo does not come from high level nutrients. Continual crossbreeding among two of the classic Indian breeds has brought into being the superlative Nili-Ravi. We may seek productive syncretism, for example, in the beautiful Surti and Mediterranean breeds, or in the Murrah and the Mehsana, or the Kundi and the Surti. There is a thriving international trade in beef-type buffaloes and in buffalo frozen-semen. The possible relaxation of hitherto rigid quarantine regulations is a significant development which will stimulate reproduction research and encourage the international movement of buffalo germplasm.

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