Water Buffalo are most often raised primarily for dairy. Approximately 15% of the worlds milk supply comes from Water Buffalo. Believed to have originated in Asia, Water Buffalo were used for milk, meat and draught power. They have since been introduced to Australia, Africa, Europe and North America.
What we often call the North American Buffalo are really Bison, which are more closely related to cattle than to Asian Water Buffalo
In North America the feed, housing and fencing needed for Water Buffalo is similar as that for cattle. Attributed to being domesticated for over 3000 years Water Buffalo generally have a docile temperament although some can be aggressive. They are alert to strangers and have personalities unlike cattle. Not for the inexperienced, Water Buffalo should be raised by those with some expertise.
Scientific Name: Bubalus Bubalis
Weight: 400-900kg (880-2,000lbs)
Life Span: 15-25 years
World Population: 168-170 million
Water Buffalo have fewer health concerns than cattle and are believed to be less susceptible to illness and disease that affect cattle in Canada. Water Buffalo have the ability to adapt to various climate conditions. They can graze lower quality or wet pastures and thrive in those conditions unlike many cattle.
Water Buffalo have a gestation period of 10.5-11 months. Multiple births are rare. Water Buffalo calves are very hearty at birth and there are very low instances of calving problems. Males become sexually mature at approximately 24-36 months of age. Females, slightly younger depending on genetics and rearing conditions. Domestic Water Buffalo can calve once every 12-16 months under good management systems.
It is believed that most of the Water Buffalo found in Canada are a combination of numerous breeds of Water Buffalo.
Water Buffalo do enjoy a swim or a role in the mud. It helps to keep them cool in the summer and to regulate their body temperature. A dirty Water Buffalo is a happy Water Buffalo (and the mud also aids in protecting the skin from biting insects and sun exposure)
It is generally accepted that the domesticated water buffalo, Bubalus bubalis, originated from Bos arnee, the wild buffalo whose habitat was the northeastern region of India (Fahimuddin, 1975). Buffalo includes two subspecies: the river type (Bubalus bubalis bubalis; 2n = 50) and the swamp type (Bubalus bubalis carabensis; 2n = 48), which were domesticated approximately 5,000 years ago. Importations of water buffaloes to the Americas and the Carribean have occurred over the past century. The earliest imports to Trinidad and Tobago were of the Jaffarabadi breeds in the 1900s. Guyana imported swamp buffaloes in 1930 and Venezuela in 1922. A large number of buffaloes have been imported into Brazil, Peru, and Columbia. During the beginning of 20th century, a large number of Indian buffaloes, particularly Murrah breeds, were imported into the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia for upgrading local swamp buffaloes for greater milk yield and draft qualities. Sixteen of the 18 river buffalo breeds (Murrah, Nili-Ravi, Kundi, Surti, Mehsana, Jafarabadi, Nagpur, Pandharpur, Manda, Jerangi, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Bhadawari, Tharai, Toda, and South Kanara) in the world are located in the Asian continent. India has 12 registered river buffalo breeds, the majority of which were developed mainly for milk production, with no specific meat breeds available (Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes, 2014). The other breeds, Bufalypso or Trinitarian breeds, were developed for meat production in Trinidad and Tobago islands.
The world buffalo population is estimated to be 198.88 million, spreading across 42 countries, of which 96.4% are distributed in Asia
Source: Buffalo meat quality, composition, and processing characteristics: Contribution to the global economy and nutritional security by B.M. Naveena and M. Kiran†