How about milking one of these...
|Female water buffalo|
...with one of these...
|Portable bucket milker|
...in one of these...
|Custom, work in prograss, water buffalo milking stanchion|
This is exactly what Craig Ramini of Ramini Mozzarella is doing. I had the opportunity to get an up close and personal look of the animals and facilities this week.
Buffalo milk is used to make yogurt and mozzarella cheese, or Mozzarella di Bufala, which has a long history in Italy. Water buffalo milk is prized for it's creamy texture and high fat content, plus it is a speciality product that commands a premium price.The fat or butterfat content of milk determines how much solid cheese you can get from the milk. The higher the butterfat content, the more cheese you get from each gallon of milk. You can see from the table below, cows and goats have fairly low butterfat contents, sheep are significantly higher and water buffalo are higher still.
Mr. Ramini said his water buffalo currently produce about two gallons of milk per day (16 pounds). This was shocking when compared to a dairy cow that produces about 8 gallons of milk a day (64 pounds). But dairy cows have had decades of heavy genetic selection so only the most productive milkers ever reproduce; water buffalo have not had that kind of genetic pressure. And when the premium price of buffalo milk and cheese is considered as compared to the price paid for cow milk and cheese, it more than makes up for this lack of volume in the water buffalo.
Mr. Ramini also very recently finished his micro-creamery where he is in the experimental stages of his mozzarella production. He rents out this small but highly functional space out to several other cheese makers.
|Love the windows, lots of light and great for tours to see the action|
|Cheese vat, temperature recorders and curd knives|
I throughly appreciated the opportunity to tour the Ramini facilites and see these fairly wild beasts interact with people. Probably a once in my lifetime experience!
|11 day old calf of mother in the top photo.|
You don't get milk without a birth!