How much do you know about water buffalos?
To be honest, I didn’t know much about them. I mean, they look nice and can mostly be found in Asia, but that was about where my knowledge stopped. So when I visited a water buffalo farm and talked to the owner, I was surprised at how amazing these animals are!
Merely ten kilometres from my parents house, a water buffalo farm can be found. The owners, Carina and Richard, started the farm about four years ago, after moving back to the Netherlands from Denmark. Having heard about the terrible treatment male buffalos receive in other countries, like Italy, they decided it was time for an alternative.
To achieve a better life for the water buffalos, the main focus of the farm is to stay as close to nature as possible. For that reason the buffalos are let loose to graze in certain nature areas close to the farm. This is done in collaboration with Staatsbosbeheer, a Dutch nature management organisation. During summer, the grasses in these areas are the only food the buffalos will get. This way, the growth of the buffalos (and meat) will be all natural. Even though they grow slower this way, it is better for the animals, and results in tastier meat.
Because of the tropical origins of the buffalos, they can’t stand the cold months of winter very well. To protect them from the cold, they are held indoors from the first day of November. While stabled, they are fed grasses and potatoes. Potatoes? Yes, apparently potatoes offer a lot of energy and the buffalos love them! It’s also very environmental friendly, for the fed potatoes are disapproved for human consumption, while there is actually nothing much wrong with them. This way they won’t go to waste!
Except keeping buffalos for meat, Carina and Richard also have farm shop. They sell their own produce, but also local specialties and product made from buffalo milk. These product come from two other farms in the Netherlands where they produce artisan mozzarella, cheese and ice cream. All with buffalo milk!
According to Carina, buffalo milk is healthier than regular cow’s milk. It contains a higher percentage of fat, but the type of fat is different and healthier. A funny detail is that cows produce more litres of milk per year, but when you reckon the percentage of fats, it turns out both species produce more or less the same amount of fat every year. Amazing, right?
If you would like to find out more, or visit the farm, take a look at the website of the water buffalo farm.