RELATED: Buffalo live trade ramps up
BUFFALO cows are starting to appear in paddocks across the country in response to a fast growing taste for select cheeses, thick yoghurts and even gelato made from their milk.
Driving demand is the remarkably high components - butterfat at seven to 10 per cent and protein at 5pc - which underpins taste and nutritional value.
Adding to demand is the fact locally-produced buffalo milk is fresh, against the imported product traditionally used by exclusive Italian cheese makers.
Most states now have buffalo dairy farming, with a national herd of more 700,000 milkers, and up to 2000 head in total, producing between one and two million litres annually.
And there is anticipation within the industry of much more growth.
“The popularity of buffalo cheese has not had its day yet,” said Australian Buffalo Industry Council president Mitch Humphries, a former conventional dairy farmer who milks about 300 buffalo cows in North Queensland and Victoria.
“Mozzarella, blue cheese, ricotta, feta and holoumi are all becoming more and more in demand.
“Different ethnic groups in cities make their own products and there are even sweets being made from buffalo milk.”
Buffalos milk an average 6 to 10 litres a day, around a quarter of the yield of a traditional dairy cow.
“Costs of production are also higher, particularly labour, but buffalo are down on animal health issues and they are so much hardier,” he said.
But with a farmgate milk price of up to $3 a litre, and the very strong demand, buffalo dairying has a robust outlook.