Raising Water Buffalo For Milk Production
The water buffalo is the second most important species in the world in terms of milk production, after dairy cows, and produces the highest quality milk of any domestic animal. As mentioned earlier, water buffalo milk is used primarily to produce cheeses, especially mozzarella. Cheeses made from buffalo milk display typical body and textural characteristics, but are unique in nature and have superior sensory qualities.
It has been reported that milk production during lactation periods of 270 days is 2 220 kg with 8.4% fat and 4.6% protein. In contrast, Bartocci et al. report an average production of 8.64 kg/head/day, composed of 47.71 g/kg of protein and 87.08 g/kg of fat. For water buffaloes in Italy, meanwhile, the average production reported for a 270-day lactation period were 2286.8 kg of milk with 196 kg of fat, representing 8.59%, and 104.7 kg of protein, representing 4.55%.
Differences in milk production among the different genetic groups of water buffaloes have also been found: 1651.4, 1592.2, 1578.3, and 1135.5 kg for Murrah, Mediterranean, Mestizo and Jafarabadi females, respectively. Studies have been conducted to determine the relation between different phenotypic characteristics and milk production.
Findings indicate that black-coloured water buffalo cows produce larger quantities of milk than females of dark brown colour (2195 ± 34 vs. 1863 ± 30 kg). No differences in milk production were observed in cows with different-shaped horns or horns of distinct size. With respect to temperament, observations show that docile animals produce more milk (2120 ± 27 kg) than nervous (1829 ± 49 kg), or aggressive ones (1743 ± 147 kg).
Khan and Akhtar, meanwhile, reported that the average milk production of Nili-Ravi buffaloes was 2020.04 ± 44.59 litres during a lactation period of 277.42 ± 5.7 days, while a study of the Mediterranean breed found a milk production of 4.52 kg/day with 4.13% protein, 6.59% fat, 17.01% total dry material, 10.47% non-fat dry material, and 18.98 D acidity. Salari et al. reported that primiparous Mediterranean buffalo cows produced 8.47 kg of milk per head (P = 0.01), 12% below that of multiparous females.
They also found that milk production increased between days 16 and 60 (11.35 kg/per head), that fatty content was higher (P = 0.01) at the end of the peak production period (8.64%), and that protein levels increased at the onset and end of lactation (4.84 vs. 4.93).
Finally, Yilmaz et al. reported milk yields of 24–26 l/day during a lactation period of 225 ± 6 days. Total milk solids were 17.7 ± 0.3%, protein was 4.2 ± 0.1%, and fat was 8.1 ± 0.2%. Taking into account all these elements, milk yields are 40% greater than those for bovine milk. Thus, the price of buffalo milk is about three times that of dairy cattle milk.
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