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close this bookThe Water Buffalo: New Prospects For An Underutilized Animal (1984)
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View the documentPanel on Water Buffalo
View the documentPreface
View the document1 Introduction
View the document2 Meat
View the document3 Milk
View the document4 Work
View the document5 Adaptability and Environmental Tolerance
View the document6 Nutrition
View the document7 Health
View the document8 Reproduction
View the document9 Management
View the document10 Environmental Effects
View the document11 Recommendations and Research Needs
Open this folder and view contentsAppendixes

2 Meat

The water buffalo offers promise as a major source of meat, and the production of buffaloes solely for meat is now expanding.

Because buffaloes have been used as draft animals for centuries, they have evolved with exceptional muscular development, some weigh 1,000 kg or more. Until recently, however, little thought was given to using them exclusively for meat production. Most buffalo meat was, and still is, derived from old animals slaughtered at the end of their productive life as work or milk animals. As a result, much of the buffalo meat sold is of poor quality. But when buffaloes are properly reared and fed, their meat is tender and palatable.

Water buffaloes are exported for slaughter from India and Pakistan to the Middle East and from Thailand and Australia to Hong Kong. Demand for meat is so great that Thailand's buffalo population has dropped from 7 million to 5.7 million head in the last 20 years, a period in which the human population has more than doubled.

 

Carcass Characteristics

All buffalo breeds-even the milking ones-produce heavy animals whose carcass characteristics are similar to those of cattle.

Despite heavier hide and head, the amount of useful meat (dressing percentage) from buffaloes is almost the same as in cattle. Mediterranean type buffalo and Zebu cattle steers in Brazil yielded dressing percentages of 55.5 and 56.6 percent respectively. Swamp buffalo dressing percentages have been measured in Australia at 53 percent.

Buffaloes are lean animals. Although a layer of subcutaneous fat covers the carcass, it is usually thinner than that on comparably fed cattle. Even animals that appear to be fat prove to be largely muscle. Australian research on Swamp buffaloes reveals that buffaloes with more than 25 percent fat are difficult to produce, whereas average choice-grade beef carcasses may contain

In general, the buffalo carcass has rounder ribs, a higher proportion of muscle, and a lower proportion of bone and fat than beef has.

Buffalo hide is so thick that it can be sliced into two or three layers before tanning into leather.

 

Meat Quality

Buffalo meat and beef are basically similar. The muscle pH (5.4), shrinkage on chilling (2 percent), moisture (76.6 percent), protein (19 percent), and ash (1 percent) are all about the same in buffalo meat and beef. Buffalo fat, however, is always white and buffalo meat is darker in color than beef because of more pigmentation or less intramuscular fat (2-3 percent "marbling," compared with the 3-4 percent in beef).

 

Eating Quality

Taste-panel tests and tenderness measurements conducted by research teams in a number of countries have shown that the meat of the water buffalo is as acceptable as that of cattle. Buffalo steaks have rated higher than beefsteaks in some taste tests in Australia, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Trinidad.

In taste-panel studies in Trinidad, cooked joints from three carcasses Trinidad buffalo, a crossbred steer (Jamaica-Red/Sahiwal), and an imported carcass of a top-grade European beef steer-were served. The 28 diners all had experience in beef production, butchery, or catering and were not told the sources of the various joints. All the carcasses were held in cold storage for one week before cooking. The buffalo meat was rated highest by 14 judges; 7 chose the European beef; 5 thought the crossbred beef the best; and 2 said that the buffalo and crossbred were equal to or better than the European beef. The buffalo meat received most points for color (both meat and fat), taste, and general acceptability. There was little difference noted in texture.( Information supplied by P. N. Wilson.)

Buffalo veal is considered a delicacy. Calves are usually slaughtered for veal between 3 and 4 weeks of age; dressed weight is 59-66 percent of live weight.

There is some evidence that buffaloes may retain meat tenderness to a more advanced age than cattle because the connective tissue hardens at a later age or because the diameter of muscle fibers in the buffalo increases more slowly than in cattle(Joksimonc, 1979) In one test the tenderness (measured by shearing force) of muscle samples from carcasses of buffalo steers 16-30 months old was the same as that from feedlot Angus, Hereford, and Friesian steers 12-18 months old. This gives farmers more flexibility in meeting fluctuating markets while still providing tender meat.

 

Selected Readings

Anonymous. 1976. Livestock Production in Asian Context of Agricultural Diversification. Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan.

Arganosa, F. C., Sanchez, P. C., Ibarra, P. I., Gerpacio, A. L., Castillo, L. S., and Arganosa, V. G. 1973. Evaluation of carabeef as a potential substitute for beef. Philippine Journal of Nutrition 26(2).

Arganosa, F. C., Arganosa, V. G., and Ibarra, P. I. 1975. Carcass evaluation and utilization of carabeef. In: The Asiatic Water Buffalo. Proceedings of an International Symposium held at Khon Kaen, Thailand, March 31-April 6, 1975. Food and Fertilizer Technology Center, Taipei, Taiwan.

Bennett, S. P. 1973. The "buffalypso"-an evaluation of a beef type of water buffalo in Trinidad, West Indies. Paper presented at the Third World Conference on Animal Production, Melbourne, Australia.

Borghese, A., Gigli, S., Romita, A., Di Giacomo, A., and Mormile, M. 1978. Fatty acid composition of fat in water buffalo calves and bovine calves slaughtered at 20, 28, and 36 weeks of age. In: Patterns of Growth and Development in Cattle: A Seminar in the EEC Programme of Coordination of Research on Beef Production, held at Ghent, October 11-13,1977. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands.

Charles, D. D., and Johnson, E. R. 1972. Carcass composition of the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Australian Journal of Agriculture Research 23:905-911.

Charles, D. D., and Johnson, E. R. 1975. Live weight gains and carcass composition of buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) steers on four feeding regimes. Australian Journal of Agriculture Research 26:407-413.

Cockrill, W. R. 1975. Alternative livestock: with particular reference to the wafer buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). In: Meat. Proceedings of the 21st Easter School in Agricultural Science, University of Nottingham, edited by D. J. A. Cole and R. A. Lawrie. Butterworth, London, England.

El-Ashry, M. A., Mogawer, H. H., and Kishin, S. S. 1972. Comparative study of meat production from cattle and buffalo male calves. Egyptian Journal of Animal Production 12:99-107.

El-Koussy, H. A., Afifi, Y. A., Dessouki, T. A., and El-Ashry, M. A. 1977. Some chemical and physical changes of buffalo meat after slaughter. Agriculture Research Review 55:1-7.

Johnson, E. R., and Charles, D. D. 1975. Comparison of live weight gain and changes in carcass composition between buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and Bos taurus steers. Australian Journal of Agriculture Research 26:415- 422.

Joksimovic, J. 1979. Physical, chemical and structural characteristics of buffalo meat. Arhiv za Polloprivredne Nauke 22:110.

Joksimovic, J., and Ognjanovic, A. 1977. A comparison of carcass yield, carcass composition, and quality characteristics of buffalo meat and beef Meat Science 1:105 -110.

Mai, S. C., and Wu, T. H. 1974. TSC's intensive feed-lot system for cow-calf and beef production program. Taiwan Sugar 21(6):198-211.

Matassino, D., Romita, A., Cosentino, E., Girolami, A., and Cloatruglio, P. 1978. Myorheological, ohemical, and colour characteristics of meat in water buffalo and bovine calves slaughtered at 20, 28 and 36 weeks. In: Patterns of Growth and Development in Cattle: A Seminar in the EEC Programme of Coordination of Research on Beef Production, held at Chent, October 11-13, 1977. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands.

Mogawer, H. H., El-Ashry, M. A., and Mahmoud, S. A. 1976. Comparative study of meat production from cattle and buffalo male calves. II. Effect of different roughage concentrate ratios in ration on carcass traits. Journal of Agriculture Research {Tanta University) 2:6-12.

Ognjanovic, A. 1974. Meat and meat production. In: The Husbandry and Health of the Domestic Buffalo, edited by W. R. CockrilL Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.

Rastogi, R., Youssef, F. G., and Gonzalez, F. D. 1978. Beef type water buffalo of Trinidad-Beefalypso. World Review of Animal Production 14(2) :49 -56.

Romita, A., Borghese, A., Gigli, S., and Di Giacomo, A. 1978. Growth rate and carcass composition of water buffalo calves and bovine calves slaughtered at 20, 28 and 36 weeks. In: Patterns of Growth and Development in Cattle: A Seminar in the EEC Programme of Coordination of Research on Beef Production, Held at Chent, October 11-13, 1977. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands.

Wilson, P. N. 1961. Palatability of water buffalo meat. Journal of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad 61:457, 459-460.