It's been a really busy few weeks on the farm, lots of female buffalo giving birth. These weeks have been peak time for calving and milk production. Johnny produces calves all year round on the farm as he needs milk for his Cheese making production facility which is on his farm.
The Water Buffalo species gives birth with enormous strength and calmness out in the fields or in the Labour Ward paddock if we have a few together! They never need any assistance from the Farmers and once the new calves stands and drinks it first milk feed from the mother, all holds well for the healthy little one.
At approximately 14 weeks old, (4 weeks longer than cow calves) John Sweeney or Frances Horgan take the teenage calves over to the outside stock farms where they can enjoy grass pastures, grow steadily and form herds with their pals. The Big Green Calf Barn is full with this adorable new life, who are full of mischief and loving all the attention they get from my tour visitors.
There are over 40 calves of various ages from new born to 10 weeks in the Barn. They are filling up with colostrum (mother's milk) twice daily after birth ,which is essential post birth to ensure the best start in life. And then they moved on to a replacement powdered milk.
At 2.5 years old, they will return to the farm, pregnant and fully grown to 600kg in weight approx. While buffalo are waiting for the calf to be born, they stay together as what is known as Dry Herds outdoors on grass. When they deliver their calves , they join the Milking herd for the rest of their long life on Johnny's farm. Buffalo milk is sent to the Dairy to make mozzarella the very next day.
Because the gestation (pregnancy) of the species is 5 weeks longer than cattle, Johnny aims to have calves every other year from his female animals. There are just about 10 females left to calf at this time of the year. All will be quieter now for the next 2 months on that front and following October's arrival, calves will start to be born again. And the circle of life begins again. Water Buffalo can live up to 20 years and we have 13yr old females that are still producing healthy calves.