Buffalo Breeds in Pakistan

Buffalo breeds (Bubalus bubalis)

Overview:

There are several types of buffalo breeds found around the world, each with their own distinct characteristics and adaptations. However, the most prominent buffalo breeds are Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and its subtypes.  

1. Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis): 

 The Water Buffalo is the primary species of buffalo and is further classified into various sub-types or breeds. It is an important domesticated animal in many countries, especially in Asia, where it is utilized for its milk, meat, and draft power. The two main subspecies of water buffalo are:

a. River Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis bubalis):

  • Also known as the “Asian Water Buffalo.” 
  • Found in various countries across Asia, including India, Pakistan, China, and Southeast Asian nations. 
  • Known for its larger size and robust build 
  • Used for milk, meat, and as a draft animal. 
  • Examples are Nili-Ravi, Kundi, Murrah, Azi-Kheli and Jafarabadi etc.

2. Swamp Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis carabanesis):

  • Also known as the “Carabao” in the Philippines and “Arni” in Tamil Nadu, India. 
  • Commonly found in swampy or marshy areas. 
  • Known for its adaptability to wet and humid environments. 
  • Used for ploughing fields and transportation, especially in flooded regions. 
  • Examplesare Carabao (Philippine or Filipino buffalo). 

Buffalo Breeds in Pakistan: Key Traits and Performance Indicators 

Buffalo breeds in Pakistan, including the Nili-Ravi, Kundhi, and Azi-Kheli, exhibit a range of traits and performance indicators that contribute to their significance in the country’s agriculture and dairy sectors. In Pakistan, Buffalo is used for triple-purpose breeds like for milk, meat and drought purposes. Buffalo population contributes 68% to total milk production and 71% to total beef production. Here’s an overview of key traits and performance indicators for these buffalo breeds: 

Nili-Ravi Buffalo: (The Pride of Punjab) 

Habitat:

         The home tract of the Nilli-Ravi buffalo includes Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Okara, Sahiwal, Pakpattan and Vehari districts of central Punjab, and Multan and parts of Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar districts of southern Punjab. However, due to well-recognized dairy characteristics, they are not only found all over the country but also have great demand in other countries as well. 

Nili and Ravi buffalo were recognized as a separate breed with their home tract Nili (Valley of Sutlej) and Ravi (Sandal bar area of river Ravi) until the 1960s’. Now, they merge and are accepted as the Nili-Ravi breed.  

Physical characteristics:

Nili-Ravi buffaloes are large animals with distinctive wedge-shaped heads, large and drooping ears, small curly horns, wall eyes and a large, strong udder. They also have prominent hump over the shoulder region. 

  1. Birth Weight:        The average birth weight of Nili-Ravi buffalo calves is approximately 30 to 35 kg.
  2. Weaning Weight and Age:      Calves typically achieve a weaning weight of around 100 to 110 kg by the age of 6 to 8 months.
  3. Adult weight: Males weigh 550-650 kg, while female weighs about 350-450 kg. 
  4. Lactation Length:         The lactation length for Nili-Ravi buffaloes usually ranges from 280 to 300 days (about 10 months). 
  1. Age of Puberty:        Female Nili-Ravi buffaloes reach puberty at approximately 18 to 24 months (about 2 years). 
  2. Age at First Heat and Calving:        Nili-Ravi buffaloes generally experience their first heat at around 15 to 18 months (1 and half years) of age. The age at first calving is typically between 30 to 36 months (about 3 years).
  3. Number of Lactation’s:     These buffaloes can have multiple lactation’s, often ranging from 4 to 6 or more. 
  4. Milk Production:      Nili-Ravi buffaloes are renowned for their exceptional milk production. They can yield an average of 12 to 18 litersof milk per day, with some high-yielding individuals exceeding these figures. While their lactation yield is around about 1800-2500 Liters with 6.5%fat. 
  5. Coat Color:      They are mostly black with white markings. They are also named “Panj Kalyani” (Panj means Five and Kalyani means white marking) because they have White spots on 5 areas including the Forehead, Muzzle, Lower part of the legs, Udder and tail switch. While white markings above the hook and knee and over the neck and body constitute a serious disqualification.  
  6. Adaptability:

            Nili-Ravi buffaloes are well-adapted to the hot and humid climate of Punjab. They are known for their resilience and ability to thrive in diverse environmental conditions.

Kundhi Buffalo: (A Stalwart of Sindh) 

Habitat:

    Kundhi buffaloes are found throughout Sindh, particularly on both sides of the Indus River of Kashmore in the North and South on the coast of the Arabian Sea. They were also found in some parts of Balochistan.

Physical Characteristics: 

                    They are massive. Their horns are broad at the base and tap upward and inward, giving them a fishhook shape hence they are named “Kundhi“.    Straight horns considered are undesirable in this breed. They have a broad head, short neck, and medium-sized ear and Large, strong udder. 

  1. Birth Weight:    Kundi buffalo calves are born with an average weight of about 30 to 35 kg. 
  2. Weaning Weight and Age:        Calves achieve a weaning weight of around 90 to 100 kg by the age of 6 to 8 months. 
  3. Adult weight:      Adult male weighs 500-600 kg, and female weighs about 300-400 kg. 
  4. Age at First Heat and Calving:    Kundi buffaloes experience their first heat at approximately 18 to 24 months (about 2 years), while the age at first calving ranges from 30 to 36 months (about 3 years). 
  5. Age of Puberty:         Female Kundhi buffaloes attain puberty at around 24 to 30 months (about 2 and a half years). 
  1. Milk Production:        These buffaloes exhibit good milk production, yielding around 8 to 12 liters of milk per day on average. While their lactation yield is 1700-2200 kg with 6.5% butter fat. 
  2. Lactation Length:      The lactation period for Kundhi buffaloes typically spans 270 to 290 days (about 9 and a half months). 
  3. Number of Lactation’s:        Kundhi buffaloes commonly go through 3 to 5 lactation’sduring their productive lifespan. 
  4. Coat Color:         They are massive jet black in colour. White spots on the body are considered undesirable in this breed. 
  1. Endurance:      These buffaloes are well-suited to the arid and semi-arid regions of Sindh. They exhibit resilience and can graze on coarse vegetation, making them valuable assets for farmers in challenging environments. 

Azi Kheli Buffalo: (A Gem of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) 

Habitat:

  The Azi-Kheli buffalo is named after the Azi-Khel tribe in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This breed belongs to the Swat Valley but is now found in many parts of the country.

Physical Characteristics:

                Azi Kheli buffaloes are characterized by their compact size. Horns are small and semi-sickled. The tail is characteristically short and slender.

  1. Birth Weight:       Azi Kheli buffalo calves are typically born with a birth weight of 25 to 30 kg. 
  2. Weaning Weight and Age:    Calves reach a weaning weight of approximately 80 to 90 kg by the age of 6 to 8 months. 
  3. Age at First Heat and Calving:    Azi Kheli buffaloes experience their first heat at around 18 to 24 months (about 2 years), with the age at first calving ranging from 30 to 36 months (about 3 years). 
  1. Age of Puberty:            Female Azi Kheli buffaloes achieve puberty at approximately 24 to 30 months (about 2 and a half years). 
  2. Milk Production:       These buffaloes yield an average of 6 to 10 liters of milk per day, contributing to local dairy production. While their lactation yield is about the same as Kundhi buffalo.
  3. Lactation Length:        The lactation length for Azi Kheli buffaloes generally falls within the range of 250 to 270 days (about 9 months). 
  4. Number of Lactation’s:        Azi Kheli buffaloes typically undergo 3 to 4 lactation’s over their productive years. 
  5. Coat Color:      They have a distinctive coat colour that ranges from light to dark grey (or Albino). 
  6. Cultural importance:        In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Azi Kheli buffalo is more than just a livestock breed; it is an integral part of the cultural heritage of the region. It provides sustenance to families and represents a source of pride within the local communities. 

Conclusion:

                    Buffaloes have long held a significant place in the agricultural landscape of Pakistan. Among the various buffalo breeds found in Pakistan, the Nili-Ravi, Kundi, and Azi-Kheli breeds stand out for their unique characteristics, contributions, and cultural significance. This article delves into the distinct features and contributions of these three important buffalo breeds.

 

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