The Italian Mediterranean Buffalo, also know as BMI, is the only indigenous water buffalo breed in Italy and it was officially recognized by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies in 2000.
Since many centuries, the BMI was widely used as a draught animal in the marshy lands of our Country thanks to its environmental adaptability. Adaptability and coarse food efficiency make this breed more and more popular and now BMI is widely spread in the entire Italian territory, with a strong prevalence in central-southern Italy. Today, the Italian Mediterranean Buffalo population is composed by more than 400 000 animals in 2 200 farms.
Bubalus genus is composed by a large number of animals characterised by different aptitudes and morphological conformations. The Italian Mediterranean Buffalo breed belongs to the Linnaeuss classification Bubalus bubalis, also know as Asian buffalo. In particular, the BMI belongs to the River family thanks to its water affinity. The Bubalus genus is also characterized by animals with different sets of chromosomes: the BMI has 50 chromosomes and this is why these animals can not be breeded with other several breeds and African buffalos.
Compared with other breeds, the BMI is defined as a dairy type animal with a well-built conformation and an excellent milk production aptitude. As a matter of fact, even though in the past BMI has been used as triple-aptitude animal, today these animals are mainly used for Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO production and other excellent Italian dairy products such as burrata, caciotta, ricotta and many others.
Water buffalos milk is very different from bovines one, not only for flavour but also in components due to the genetic differences between these two species. Buffalos milk is also different in cheesemaking process thanks to its microbiological characteristics.
Another important product is meat. As a matter of fact, Buffalo meat is better in quality than beef meat because of a lower percentage of fat, half cholesterol content and double bioavailable iron.
In order to genetically improve the buffalo population, last year the Italian Association of Mediterranean Buffalo (ANASB) has performed a new Index called IBMI (Italian Mediterranean Buffalo Index) with the aim to improve milk quality and to meet farmers needs.
In particular, the main aim of the new selection plan is to enhance animals with good milk productions but also characterised by a good morphological evaluation, high in fertility and fitness.
The BMI Index has been created starting from a dataset of 920 000 certified lactations of 240 000 buffaloes and from more over than 78 000 morpho-functional evaluations from the population of Italian Mediterranean Buffalo.
The BMI index is composed as follow:
New important characters are added, such as feet&legs and udder (24% and 20% of the total score). Milk productions, fat percentage and protein percentage are the 21, 15 and 20% of the total. This allow to select animals with both good quality productions and high in fitness.
Fertile and long-lived animals, with high and constant quality production are the aims of today selection. The morphological constitution of water buffalos is also important because well-built animals can support high milk production for several years. This is the most important aspect for the breeder: strong and healthy animals, which do not require high management cost and time.
With this in mind, water buffaloes are morphological evaluated from 0 to 100, according to the index composition:
- 40% udder: mastitis predisposition and udder imperfections affect the milk production;
- 25% feet & legs, that means a good structure of animals;
- 20% production potential;
- 15% structure: well-built and high in fitness.
Tags: Italian Mediterranean Buffalo, Water Buffalo, Water Buffalo bulls, Buffalo semen, BMI bull semen, Bubalus bubalis, BMI, Buffalo’s milk, river buffalo, swamp buffalo, morphological evaluation, Buffalo Index.