Water buffalo milk fills niche in Ontario

When it comes to diversification, Stratford, Ont., dairy farmers Henry and Inge Koskamp are adding a new twist to the term.

With an eye on future opportunities for five children actively involved in the dairy operation, the Koskamps are now milking 110 Mediterranean water buffalo to go along with the 130 Holsteins. RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin caught up with their son, Philip Koskamp, last week at the Canadian Dairy XPO at Stratford to find out what it’s like to milk water buffalo and how they compare to more traditional dairy cattle such as Holsteins.

The Koskamps imported their first buffalo from Florida in 2007, and over the last decade have built their own brand — Tenderbuff Water Buffalo. The farm’s rotary parlour does double duty, milking the Holsteins first, and then, after a full wash cycle, the buffalo follow. Overall, buffalo produce much less milk than Holsteins — about 10 litres per day compared to 35 litres for the black and whites. But the buffalo win the day from a component perspective with a lofty 8 per cent milk fat compared to 4 percent for the Holsteins; there’s also plenty of protein — 5 to 6 percent compared to 3 to 4 for Holsteins.

The Koskamps’ primary market is fluid milk production for cheese. The milk is shipped to a Toronto-based, family-run cheese processor where premium cheese is made, and marketed primarily to the Italian market. Koskamp notes that there are more water buffalo milked in Italy than Holsteins in Ontario.

Currently there are three farms milking water buffalo in Ontario and two in Quebec.

Check out this video as Philip Koskamp tells Bernard Tobin about his family’s future plans for water buffalo on their farm.

Click here for more Canadian Dairy XPO coverage.

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