West Australia’s south-west is well known for its beef and dairy cattle, but there is now hope that buffalo could become a valuable new livestock offering in the region.
- A WA farmer hopes riverine buffalo could become a new offering in the premium meat market
- More than 40 of the European buffalo breed have been brought into WA from the Top End
- It took several days in a specially designed truck to transport the buffalo more than 4,400km to southern WA
Graeme Carthy has imported more than 40 riverine buffalo from the Northern Territory to his property at Quindanning, 170 kilometres south-east of Perth.
The buffalo made the near 4,410km journey from Beatrice Hill Research Station near Darwin in February.
The herd is believed to be one of the largest in Southern WA.
“They went from Darwin to Kununurra on the first day where they were inspected and held overnight, and then went to Broome, and then they were reloaded and driven straight to Quindanning.”
The riverine breed is known for its high milk output compared to dairy cattle and for its beef-like meat qualities.
The buffalo were part of a breeding program started by the NT government in 1994 using genetics from the United States and Italy.
Following the Angus success
Mr Carthy hopes to follow the successful marketing campaigns behind the Angus and Wagyu cattle breeds to position European buffalo as the “next big thing” in the premium meat market.
“It’s not that I’m ever going to be a competitor for them [Angus and Wagyu] but I’d like to emulate the marketing that they’ve used so buffalo is a boutique meat,” he said.
“When you look in the supermarket today there’s Angus. It’s all Angus, Angus, Angus, you don’t see a Shorthorn Hereford.
“I would like to do that on a smaller scale so we’ve got a high-end [Buffalo] product in the market.”
Milk, meat and chocolate
Mr Carthy says he wants to produce products for the high-end restaurant trade.
“It may be used to make small goods, sausages, minces and other exotic products to attract a premium for the meat rather than trying to just compete with what’s on the market today,” he said.
Mr Carthy said he was also considering a range of options to maximise return on investment including buffalo dairy products in addition to the exotic meat trade.
He said the south-west was the ideal place to milk buffalo because it was already the heart of WA’s existing dairy industry.
“I understand it makes the best ice cream and, because of the butter fat content in these things, they also make extremely good chocolate.
“Buffalo chocolate is a product that’s not available here in WA and it’s an area we need to look at and see if we can make it an economic performer.”
Mr Carthy plans to grow the herd further with another 80 head due to arrive in September.