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a robot says regular cows don’t usually try to get out but buffalo would otherwise push it open. Wairiri is now in its low season, making cheese three times a week -- about eight different types, most them of them Italian stretch curd cheeses (with some of the elastic stringyness of a pizza topping). They also produce yoghurt and milk. All product is pasteurised and the operation is MPI certified and audited. “You can’t just do it in your back yard but I think that’s a good thing,” says Appleton. “I trained as a cheesemaker before we started, which helps a lot because you know the dangers of salmonella and listeria and things like that. You definitely have to do training before you

embark on something like this.” Appleton says buffalo naturally produce A2 protein. They sell though farmers’ markets, restaurants and wholefood shops, and by direct order from their website. Most of the cheeses are to be eaten fresh and can sometimes be in a restaurant the day they

are made. Appleton recommends a classic Italian salad of mozzarella, tomato and basil. “People can have really fresh mozzarella that you normally can’t get in New Zealand. In Italy that’s the way they all eat it. So in summer we usually make it on Friday and out to the market on Saturday.”

The modified DeLaval robotic milker for the buffalo herd.

FEW STOCK, NO IRRIGATION WAIRIRI WATER Buffalo is located on about 40ha in the hills just west of Coalgate, near the Selwyn headwaters. Lucy Appleton and Christo Keijzer, say it is one of only three commercial buffalo herds in New Zealand. The other two are in the Auckland region. Farm parks and lifestyle blocks where people raise buffalo for home kill or pets

are “dotted around” the country, creating a market for their steers, says Appleton. She says their strategy is a small and ecological operation with no irrigation and low stock numbers. “It’s a different approach, more like old farming. We will be putting quite a lot of tree lines back in to help give them shade in summer.” Waterways are already

fenced off and a native reserve is planned. About half the farm will be grazing and half will eventually be trees. The farm has a high natural rainfall, two or three times that of the plains, and peat soil that holds the moisture well. Keijzer says it would be too wet for regular dairy cows but the buffalo can handle it with their large

cloven hooves that spread to bear their weight. They get no foot rot or lameness and hardly any mastitis, he says. The farm is also largely self contained with hay or silage only bought in when short, along with a little grain to feed in the milking robot. Keijzer says the powerful animals respect electric fences but have little regard for conventional fences and

can easily destroy a galvanised steel gate. They are also surprisingly good jumpers. Visitors to the farm don’t get to see milking since the cows don’t let down if there are strangers in the shed. They don’t like change and will get spooked by a passing hot air balloon but are otherwise very calm and like to be petted by people they know, he says.

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Happy farmer not in action.

Profile for Rural News Group

Dairy News 11 June 2019  

Dairy News 11 June 2019

Dairy News 11 June 2019  

Dairy News 11 June 2019