The water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis币游注册) is a domesticated relative of wild buffalo found in Asia. Water buffalo have been associated with people since prehistoric times. They have many uses, and in Asia even though it is primarily a dairy animal, it is also an important source of meat, draft power and leather. The greatest numbers in the world reside in India, Pakistan and China.

Water buffalo were introduced to Australia throughout the 1800s from Indonesia, initially as draught animals and to provide meat for new settlements in the Northern Territory.

 represents eight state associations and associate members to encourage industry research and development, as well as represent the industry at a national level.

Facts and figures

  • Farming buffalo requires a permit or licence in all states and territories except the Northern Territory and farming is banned in some locations, such as the Kimberley in Western Australia
  • Australian commercial herds are the swamp and riverine types of water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) or various crosses of both
  • Farming is very similar to farming beef and dairy cattle, and buffalo are much more efficient at converting poor feed to energy than cattle
  • While good markets exist for live export and buffalo milk, meat production is limited by the lack of abattoir facilities willing to slaughter buffalo
  • They are considered a pest species in some states and on-farm animals must be registered annually and all trade of livestock requires state government permits

Production status

币游注册Buffalo are farmed in the Northern Territory and all states of Australia. Domestication of feral buffalo (the swamp buffalo introduced to Australia in the 1800s) commenced in the 1970s and since the 1990s, riverine buffalo have been imported for dairy and beef enterprises, and for cross-breeding with domesticated swamp buffalo.

币游注册The Northern Territory is the most significant production region. Buffalo are milked for dairy products in the Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. Buffalo are also slaughtered for meat in most regions; however the extent of this meat production is limited by the number of abattoirs available and willing to offer services to producers.

币游注册The nature of buffalo production enterprises varies from large farms with many hundreds or thousands of head to small farms with 30 or so animals. A few dairy buffalo operations are vertically integrated, selling milk and producing cheese under their own label; while others deliver milk to established cheese makers.

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Map of current and potential growing regions

币游注册  website provides links to suppliers of livestock throughout Australia, as well as hosting a trading post.

币游注册Once a core herd is established, farmers build up their herds through breeding their own stock, using their own bulls, hired bulls and/or artificial insemination. Some dairy buffalo producers have imported their own livestock and/or semen, mainly from Italy, to build up and improve their herds.

Buffalo may also be purchased in the Northern Territory, from a facility operated by the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, which has been crossbreeding swamp and riverine types of buffalo for nearly 20 years to improve growth rates and fertility. The centre also provides advice on buffalos and their production to interstate buffalo producers.

Health care & pests and diseases

Provided that buffalo have access to good levels of feed and water, daily care routines are not onerous. However, like all livestock producers, a buffalo farmer must be constantly checking and aware of the health status of his herd.

Buffalo, particularly swamp buffalo, are well adapted to the tropical conditions of northern Australia and are susceptible to only a few pests and diseases. In northern Australia there was only one disease management program (for tuberculosis in the 80’s and 90’s) and Australia has been declared tuberculosis free.

Lice are a problem common in northern Australia, and to a lesser extent in southern Australia, causing anaemia and loss of condition. Most cattle lice formulations, apart from chlorpyrifos-based treatments, are effective as pour-ons or sprays for buffalo.

币游注册Buffalo are not a normal host to cattle ticks, except under exceptionally stressful conditions and when mixed with tick-infected cattle.

Worms, particularly ostertagiasis (brown stomach worm), can be a problem in Southern Australia, therefore a regular and strategic egg monitoring and drenching program is recommended. Treatment with “7 in 1” vaccine (clostridial plus leptospirosis) is recommended for all states, as well as locally-recommended treatments for cattle, such as vaccination for botulism and vibriosis (Campylobacter).

币游注册In southern Australia, buffalo are very susceptible to Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF) particularly when animals are heavily stressed, such as when they are in poor condition or arrive on a new property during a very cold period. At all times it is recommended that buffalo do not have direct contact with sheep, so as to avoid mortalities. This disease is a notifiable disease in most states of Australia, and producers should be aware of their responsibilities should an outbreak occur.

币游注册For further information on pests and disease of buffalo refer to .