This species has been domesticated for 6 thousand years; however, the study of its productive potential only dates back 40 years. The buffalo is originally from Asia, and it can be found in greatest concentrations in India, with 140 million animals. There, like in Colombia, they are used for three purposes, that is, for milk, meat, and as beasts of burden. In livestock ranching, there are several business lines; they wil depend on your tastes, on the marketplace, on the conditions of the farm, on the availability of forage, and on the installations available. Among those business lines, raising stocker animals has the greatest rotation of animals On this show, we will talk about this alternative (music) (Hombre) They were introduced to the American continent around 1890, in a pioneering country, such as Brazil, they were the first to introduce this species. This breed was brought to Colombia in 1967 by the INCORA; they imported the first buffalo, which were 30 females 5 breeding bulls, and 5 work bulls.
They were located in Gaupí, in the province of Cauca (Narrator) Now let’s learn about some the characteristics and uses of buffalo. (Hombre) Buffalo are characterized for being very precocious, they reach the reproductive stage much more quickly, they are more efficient, they are very hardy animals, and highly productive. Hence I would say that their performance is characterized by quantitative as well as qualitative factors in terms of milk production, meat production, and also because it is an animal that can used for field work. (Narrator) Let’s talk about stocker buffalo. These are males or females that have been weaned, that are in a growth period, which weigh on average 280 Kilograms, and whose age ranges between 8 and 18 months old. the process consists of raising them until they weigh approximately 350 kilograms, from there they can go on to finishing, or be sold to ranchers specialized in that business line. (music) (Men) Of their important characteristics, we should highlight that these animals should be reaching a weight of 180 to 300 kilos when they are between 18 or 20 months of age.
After this, these animals have already gone through puberty, and they go on to the reproductive stage, at this stage we have other weight protocols and we call them heifers or bulls during their reproductive stage. (Narrator) Buffalo farms have different methods of raising calves so as to obtain good stocker animals and high production yields in the established timeframes. This farm employs two different methods raising methods. Let’s see what they consist of. (Hombre) On this buffalo farm we have two methods for raising calves, one, where the calf is raised with its own mother, and another, where they are raised artificially. The protocol for raising calves with their own mothers is as follows: after birth, we must guarantee that the calf consumes callostrum for the first six hours so that through this first food, it can receive immunoglobulins and it can develop its immune system. Once the calf drinks the colostrum, we proceed to close up the umbilical cord so as to prevent the entry of bacterial agents or opportunist microorganisms that can cause disease in newborns. Once this process is done, we take these animals to the holding pens, so as to guarantee an adequate place for them, one that is not too muddy, which can cause them physiological alterations.
There, after two days, these animals will be identified with a tattoo and a tag on their left ear, with their corresponding number, be it male or female. We write their mother’s number on their right ear, for the purpose of genetics management and company recordkeeping. After this, we make sure that the calves consume their food everyday. After approximately 8 days, they are taken to the milking pens where they join the female buffalo during milking. After the buffalo calves are eight days old, they participate in one milking shift, where the buffalo cow is milked in the morning hours, and the calf is let loose with her around midday.
In the afternoon hours, the calf is picked up and taken to a fresh dry place, where we can provide them with optimum conditions for their development. After around 15 or 20 days it has fulfilled the stage where it has acquired those defenses and gained weight, they can go through two milking periods, where these calves can play a role between one milking and another. Milkings take place in the morning hours and in the afternoon, the calf will suckle during the times that the mother buffalo is taken to the pens for milking. (Music) (Hombre) We are now in the area where calves are artificially reared. When they are 30 days old, they are completely separated from their mothers with the intent or raising them this way.
The reason for this is to improve the amount of milk production in the buffalo. We have seen a notable increase in production, and at the same time, we have been reducing the intervals between births. This way we can reduce unproductive days and have quicker pregnancies among the buffalo For buffalo calves that are being artificially reared, we feed them with powdered milk, which we also mix a part of with buffalo milk, so as to improve the quality of the milk given to the calves. Another component of feeding buffalo calves raised under confinement is high protein concentrate, formulated for their age and growth stage. This is rationed into three feedings throughout the day. They are also given water at will, mineral salts and sileage. We also supplement their feeding with with palm kernel cakes. These buffalo calves remain in this stage until they are eight months old. Through this process, we obtain an average weight at weaning of 180 Kilograms. Which is a few Kilos more than if they were raised with their mothers until they were nine months old. (Music) (narrator) Castration is performed by some ranchers.
This method is not very common among buffalo, since this is a very precocious species, which can reach a weight of 450 kilos in a lot less time than cattle. In some buffalo ranches castration is done at 13 months to improve certain aspects of the meat, such as texture and color. The Buffalo’s permanent teeth start to erupt between 24 and 25 months old, so they must be fattened until they are 25 months old, to avoid the delays the fattening can cause in this stage of their development. The consumption of buffalo meat has been increasing in Latin America, but the lack of marketing and information has led to it becoming an industrial meat. (music) (narrator) Let’s talk about the nutritional and environmental conditions these animals require in order to achieve high production levels. In this buffalo farm, they use the initials BFPWSG, which means: Bulls, Forage, Peace, Water, Salt, and Grass (Men) The initials mean as follows, if we have bulls, then we can have a successful reproductive stage for the buffalos.
Here on the buffalo farm I dare say that we have a fertility rate of over 90% The forage is the food that we provide for the animals in the form of grass if we have a good amount of forage, we can have good corporal development, we can have good production, and guarantee the animal’s reproductive and physical health (music) (Men) Inasmuch as we can, we try to convey tranquility to the animals, We want animals to be as relaxed as possible. For that we employ many techniques, such as using dams, like bathing them in the holding pens so that they can relax and remain calm.
Water is fundamental for them to regulate their temperature during daylight hours, and it is very hot in this area; that is the peace that we can provide for them. (narrator) You must keep in mind that in addition to helping buffalo regulate their body temperature, water helps prevent the infestation of ticks, fleas, mosquitos, and specially gadflys. By keeping these pests at bay, we also prevent trypanosome and anaplasmosis, diseases which frequently affect this species. (Hombre) Salt is a mineral that animals need for their physiological and reproductive development. Shade is important as well, and it’s also part of the buffalo’s thermoregulation mechanisms. (narrator) To finish off, let’s talk about the final stage of raising these buffalo, bulls as well as females. (Hombre) Daily weight gain is approximately 700 to 800 grams during grazing; I am talking about grazing on pastures in this zone, grasses such as humidicola, natural grasses such as Canutillo, gramalote, and some improved varieties, such as braquiarias and branquipara. The appropriate weight for males at slaughter should be around 450 or 470 kilos, which they should reach when they are 22, 24 months old at the latest.
(sonido al pisar pasto) Female buffalo begin their reproductive stage when they reach a weight of 350 kilos at an average age between 18 and 24 months old. These females initially undergo a program of artificial insemination for which we are using semen from pure Mediterranean bulls with the goal of improving the genepool, having better milk production, obtaining better weight gains, and having docile animals that are more easily handled. (narrator) So that is how this process of buffalo breeding and rearing reaches its final stage after passing through all of the growth stages. This is done in order to improve the herd genetics, and the quality of the milk.
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