The idea of Dr. Takashi Shirai of the Lake District Dairy Ranch, with the support of the Department of Hokkaido of Ministry of Agriculture and of the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, is to develop the Buffalo Livestock in Japan, to develop also the market of local products, coming from buffalo.

The project is applicable particularly in Hokkaido isle, where the Agriculture is more diffused in comparison with other islands, even if the climate is more cold, with the snow during the winter months.

For this purpose Prof. Antonio Borghese was invited in Hokkaido by Takashi Shirai on January 2015 to expose the proposal of a project for the development of buffalo in Japan.

A meeting was organized on January 31 at the Congress Palace in Obihiro city with the participation of many Authorities of Ministry of Agriculture, Universities, private Companies, livestock farms, cheese industries, the Westlands Institute of Northeastern Asia, the Hakone Farm Co.LTD, the Hokkaido Tokachi Area Regional Food Processing Technology Center, and the Tokachi Livestock Hygiene Service center.

Prof. Borghese explained that buffalo species Bubalus bubalis is a very common species with a population of about 200 million head, particularly widespread in tropical and subtropical countries with hot and humid climates, but he showed a great capacity of adaptation in the cold climates too, as happened in Romania, U.K., Canada and Germany.

Prof. Borghese said that Japan has potential resources to develop dairy industry for both cow and buffalo to meet its domestic demands. Meanwhile, the introduction of the buffalo species, and in particular the Mediterranean Italian Breed, can achieve the goal to introduce a new industry in the milk and in the meat line in Japan market, according the previous experience made in Italian market, where mozzarella and other cheeses, ricotta, yogurt and other products from cheese industry, as well salami, bresaola, sausages and other products from meat industry are very much required by the consumers.

To achieve the best results in economic terms, a Buffalo Research Center will be created and the intensive system or semiintensive system will be applied, according the models realized in Italy.

As the inherent pattern of reproductive/productive performance affects the level and sequence of milk production, the systems of semi-intensive and intensive herd management will be adopted and the modern husbandry techniques should be applied.

The project will start with the constitution of a Pilot Centre in Hokkaido, in an area where buffalo livestock could be an important reality. We will find the best 200 Mediterranean Italian buffalo cows for production and reproduction efficiency that will be host in the Pilot Centre.

Another possibility will be to buy Swamp animals, very cheaper than Mediterranean and more adapted to climatic and environmental conditions of Japan, and after to apply crossbreeding with Mediterranean Italian semen.

Purpose of the second proposed breeding schemes is to produce F1 and backcross buffaloes from swamp and river buffalo to be used to increase buffalo milk production in Japan while maintaining and improving a nucleus of purebred swamp buffaloes.

In both the hypothesis the nucleus of purebred buffalo will be recorded for milk productivity so to define the optimal breeding strategies to increase milk production until a level of 3000-3500 kg milk in 270 days of lactation.

If we will start from Mediterranean Italian the result is guarantee soon. If we will 6 start with Swamp or with River not selected for dairy purposes as we can find in Asia or in Australia we need to apply crossbreeding to achieve high production levels.

Visit in the Lake District Dairy Ranch and final dinner.

After the presentation, a vivacious discussion followed with many questions about Livestock, buffalo management, quality of products, market and economy.


Takashi Shirai