Dairy Buffalo Upgrading Research Project PRJ-004254
(May 2010)

The Victorian Buffalo Industry Council has been approved to conduct a research project to introduce Bulgarian Murrah Buffalo to Australia with an aim to upgrade Dairy Buffalo in Australia. The project will use imported semen from Bulgaria and detect heat in buffalo cows by using a vasectomised bull, instead of drug-induced synchronization. With buffalo being shy breeders, it is hoped to achieve higher conception rates using the vasectomised bull. Both methods to be used for comparison

By upgrading the quality of milking buffalo in Australia it is hope to provide a pool of genetic material for buffalo dairy farmers in Australia. The Bulgarian Murrah Buffalo semen will be sourced from the Bulgarian Government Dairy Farms. The expertise of Dr George Malinov will be utilized to carry out the procedures in the capacity of Principal Investigator.

The participation of all individuals and associations affiliated with the Australian Buffalo Industry Council (ABIC) is welcomed.

The Murrah was selected because of its milking qualities, conformation, size and its ability to upgrade the milking quality of non-descript buffalo. Although the Bulgarian Murrah is slightly different to the Indian Murrah, they have similar qualities and look more like dairy cattle.

In Australia, because of different weather conditions, we would expect different requirements to that of India and Bulgaria. It will take a considerable number of years before a pure Murrah will be achieved, however we would expect the hybrid to improve the milking quality of dairy buffalo

Research Major update in 2009.
Buffalo Research is funded by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and NT Dept of Resources (DoR)
(October 2008)

Background, relevance and potential benefits

Buffalo have been in Australia since the early settlements in the NT during the 1800’s.

Buffalo are able to utilise poor quality feeds in marginal cattle areas, swampy country, etc. and are now happily producing in all states of Australia. They are also able to handle good pasture conditions on a par with cattle, particularly with the new importation of River buffalo during the mid 1990’s. The Riverine breeds have given new life to the buffalo industry in crossbreeding, for both meat and milk potential.

The ability to AI successfully will allow much faster implementation of the genetics and the greater potential for buffalo to enter the dairy industry via crossbreeding and upgrading to higher Riverine percentages. The current availability of imported Italian semen from dairy animals should speed up the process. Concurrently the meat potential of the crosses can be explored. At present bull numbers of purebreds are low but building, however AI has the capacity to speed up adoption greatly, as long as good rates of conception are achieved. Rates above 50% are now readily achieved.

In cheese making, buffalo milk has twice the recovery value of cows’ milk, although milk yields are significantly lower when compared to high yielding dairy cow breeds. It is expected that the dietary requirements of buffalo will be much less onerous to provide.

(i) Objectives/aims of the proposed research

To analyse the existing swamp buffalo data collected at Beatrice Hill since 1983 and derive heritability estimates for the Australian swamp buffalo. Breedplan EBV’s are to be allocated.

Review and recommend a suitable database system to take the Buffalo Industry (meat, milk and stud) satisfactorily into the next 10 years.

Review Australian and world literature and implement AI protocol that suits Australian conditions over multiple locations. Test out protocols for AI in as many States as possible.

(ii) Outcomes of the proposed research

1. Analysis of swamp buffalo genetic data

2. Database establishment

3. Milk recording scheme

4. Description of growth and reproductive performance of crossbred herds

5. Milk production in riverine crossbreds

6. Improved AI procedures

7. Performance recording system

(iii) Deliverables/outputs of the proposed research

1. Annual progress reports

2. Final RIRDC report

3. Improved AI protocols for industry

4. DRDPRFR Agnote/Technotes

5. ABIC newsletter articles

See Final Report "Australian Water Buffalo – Genetic and reproduction improvements", RIRDC publication No. 08/189; available on-line on the RIRDC website.

Current 2008-2012 Project

PRJ 000042 Enhancing Productivity Improvements in the Water Buffalo Industry

This project has a large number of sub-projects namely:

  1. Continued development and testing of AI protocols and procedures.
  2. Tenderness testing of meat samples of different aged TenderBuff animals
  3. Milk recording at Millaa Millaa NQld
  4. Continuation of the Registry/Breedplan initiative with ABRI
  5. Compare crossbred and swamp buffalo performance in Indonesian feedlots
  6. Publish a Best Practice Manual for Buffalo producers in Australia
  7. Present paper on Australian buffalo research results at the 9th World Buffalo Congress in Argentina in 2010

This project concludes in Feb 2012. The report and best practices manual will be published by RIRDC in 2012.