|By pinoyfarmer | August 12, 2007|
The water buffalo is the classic work animal of Asia, an integral part of that continent’s traditional village farming structure. Probably the most adaptable and versatile of all work animals, it is widely used to plow; level land; plant crops; puddle rice fields; cultivate field crops; pump water; haul carts, sleds, and shallow-draft boats; carry people; thresh grain; press sugar cane; haul logs; and much more. Even today, water buffaloes provide 20-30 percent of the farm power in South China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indochina(Figures provided by A. J. de veer. In India water buffaloes contribute much less to farm power (6-12 percent); bullocks are more commonly used. In Pakistan buffaloes are little used for farm power (1-2 percent) but provide much of the road haulage. Papua New Guinea has no tradition of using any work animal, but villagers are increasingly using buffaloes for farm work and the government is employing Fillipinos to train them) . Millions of peasants in the Far East, Middle East, and Near East have a draft buffalo. For them it is often the only method of farming food crops.
As fuel becomes scarce and expensive in these countries, the buffalo is being used more frequently as a draft animal. In 1979 water buffalo prices soared in rural Thailand because of the increased demand.
Although Asian farms have increasingly mechanized in the last 20 years, it has often proved difficult to persuade the farmer to replace his buffalo with a tractor since the buffalo produces free fertilizer and does not require diesel fuel. Now there is renewed official interest in draft power. Sri Lanka has recently opened up large new tracts of farmland in the Mahawali Valley, creating such a demand for work animals that buffalo shortages have become a national development problem. Indonesia’s transmigration schemes are also handicapped by shortages of animal power.
For many small farmers the buffalo represents capital. It is often the major investment they have. Buffalo energy increases their productivity and allows them to diversify. Even small farms have work animals that, like the farmer himself, subsist off the farm. Tractors usually require at least four hectares for economical operation, which precludes their use on most peasant farms. Further, the infrastructure to maintain machinery is often not readily available.
Buffaloes are also used for hauling. Buffalo-drawn carts carry goods between villages where road surfaces are unfit for trucks. The animals easily traverse ravines, streams, paddies, and narrow and rocky trails. In the cities carts can compete economically with trucks where the road surface is unprepared, where loading or unloading takes longer than the journey itself, or where the loads are too small and distances too short to make trucking economical. For road haulage buffaloes are generally shod: the shoes are flat plates fitted to each hoof.
Capacity for Work
The water buffalo is a sturdy draft animal Its body structure, especially the distribution of body weight over the feet and legs, is an important advantage. Its large boxy hooves allow it to move in the soft mud of rice fields. Moreover, the buffalo has very flexible pastern and fetlock joints in the lower leg so that it can bend back its hooves and step over obstacles more easily than cattle. This water-loving animal is particularly well adapted to paddy farming because its legs withstand continual wet conditions better than mules or oxen(Australian animal scientists working in Bogor, Indonesia, found that the puddling effect of buffalo hooves on the soil was critical for rice cultivation in the local soils. Tractors produced fields so porous that they drained dry. (Information supplied by A. F. GurnettSmith.) On one research station near Darwin, Australia, buffaloes were used to prevent water draining from a dam. (Information supplied by D. G. Tulloch.).
Although buffaloes are preferred by farmers in the wet, often muddy lowlands of Asia, mules, horses, and cattle move more rapidly and are preferred in the dryer areas.
Water buffaloes do not work quickly. They plod along at about 3 km per hour. In most parts of Southeast Asia they are worked about 5 hours a day and they may take 6-10 days to plow, harrow, and grade one hectare of rice field. Their stamina and drawing power increase with body weight.
Because they have difficulty keeping cool in hot, humid weather (see next chapter), it is necessary to let working buffaloes cool off, preferably in a wallow, every 2 hours or so. Without this their body temperatures may rise to dangerous levels.
A pair of 3-year-old buffaloes costs about the same as a small tractor in Thailand. But many farmers raise their own calves and there is no investment beyond labor. The “fuel” for the animals comes mainly from village pastures and farm wastes such as crop stubble and sugarcane tops. Buffaloes have an average working life of about 11 years, but some work to age 20.
The yoke used on working buffalo in Asia has changed very little in the last 1,500 years. It is doubtful that a working buffalo can exert its full power with it. The hard wooden yoke presses on a very small area on top of the animal’s neck, producing severe calluses, galls, and obvious discomfort. The harness tends to choke the animal as the straps under the neck tighten into the windpipe. Since the traditional hitch is usually higher than the buffalo’s low center of gravity, the animal cannot pull efficiently. Considerably more pulling power and endurance can be obtained by improving the harness. The situation is not unlike that in Western agriculture in the twelfth century when the horse collar-one of the most important inventions of the Middle Ages first appeared. Before that, horses were yoked like buffalo and the harness passed across their windpipes and choked them as they pulled. Use of the horse collar improved pulling efficiency and speeded the development of transportation and trade.
The curved yoke now universally used on water buffalo contacts an area of the neck that is only about 200 cm2 (little more than half the size of this page). The entire load is pulled on this small area and causes the wood to dig into the flesh.
A horse collar is a padded leather device that encircles the animal’s neck. One modified in Thailand for use on water buffalo (see page 43) had a contact area of 650 cm2, more than three times that of the yoke it replaced. The collar’s padding pressed against the animal’s shoulders, not its neck, and therefore did not choke it. Attached to the collar were wooden harnes with the traces for hitching the animal to a wagon or plow. In trials a buffalo pulled loads 24 percent heavier with the collar than with the yoke, and the horsepower it developed increased by 48 percent(These trials were conducted by J. K. Garner in Thailand in 1958. In the maximum-load test the yoked buffalo failed to move a load of 570 kg, but it moved a load of 640 kg when fitted with the horse collar. In an endurance test the yoked animal took 35 minutes to pull a load 550 m, but harnessed with the collar it took only 21 minutes).
Another potentially valuable harness is the breast strap, a set of broad leather straps that pass over the animal’s neck and back. One breast strap modified for water buffalo use had a contact area of 620 cm2, almost as much as that of the horse collar, and in trials the buffalo pulled a load 12 percent heavier than with a yoke and the horsepower it developed increased by almost 70 percent( The same animal used in the horse collar trials pulled 700 kg with the breast strap, in the endurance test it took 18.5 minutes to travel the 550-m distance).
These seem very good innovations. In the humid tropics, however, leather collars and breast straps may decay rapidly. To make them widely practical may require experimentation with, or development of, special leather treatments or more durable materials.
While the buffalo is remarkably versatile, it has less physiological adaptation to extremes of heat and cold than the various breeds of cattle. Body temperatures of buffaloes are actually lower than those of cattle, but buffalo skin is usually black and heat absorbent and only sparsely protected by hair. Also, buffalo skin has one-sixth the density of sweat glands that cattle skin has, so buffaloes dissipate heat poorly by sweating. If worked or driven excessively in the hot sun, a buffalo’s body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and general discomfort increase more quickly than those of cattle(Failure to appreciate this has caused many buffalo deaths in northern Australia when the animals were herded long distances through the heat of the day as if they were cattle).. This is particularly true of young calves and pregnant females. During one trial in Egypt 2 hours’ exposure to sun caused temperatures of buffalo to rise 1.3°C, whereas temperatures of cattle rose only 0.2-0.3°C.
Buffaloes prefer to cool off in a wallow rather than seek shade. They may wallow for up to 5 hours a day when temperatures and humidity are high. Immersed in water or mud, chewing with half-closed eyes, buffaloes are a picture of bliss.
In shade or in a wallow buffaloes cool off quickly, perhaps because a black skin rich in blood vessels conducts and radiates heat efficiently (Tests at the University of Florida have shown that buffaloes in the shade cool off more quickly than cattle. -Robey, 1976). Nonetheless, wallowing is not essential. Experience in Australia, Trinidad, Florida, Malaysia, and elsewhere has shown that buffaloes grow normally without wallowing as long as adequate shade is available.
Although generally associated with the humid tropics, buffaloes, as already noted, have been reared for centuries in temperate countries such as Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and in the Azerbaijan and Georgian republics of the USSR. In 1807 Napoleon brought Italian buffaloes to the Landes region of southwest France and released them near Mont-deMarsan. They became feral and multiplied prodigiously in the woods and dunes of the littoral, but unfortunately the local peasants found them easy targets, and with the fall of Napoleon the whole herd was killed for meat(In the twelfth century Benedictine monks introduced buffaloes from their possessions in the Orient to work the lands of their abbey at Auge in northeastern France. In the thirteenth century a herd was introduced to England by the Earl of Cornwall, the brother of Henry III. Nothing is known about how well either herd survived). Buffaloes are also maintained on the high, snowy plateaus of Turkey as well as in Afghanistan and the northern mountains of Pakistan.
The buffalo has greater tolerance of cold weather than is commonly supposed. The current range of the buffalo extends as far north as 45° latitude in Romania and the sizable herds in Italy and the Soviet Union range over 40° N latitude(Philadelphia and Peking are at comparable latitudes. In the Southern Hemisphere the 40° line of latitude easily encompasses Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and most of New Zealand’s North Island). Cold winds and rapid drops in temperatures, however, appear to have caused illness, pneumonia, and sometimes death. Most of the animals in Europe are of the Mediterranean breed, but other River-type buffaloes (mainly Murrahs from India) have been introduced to Bulgaria and the Soviet Union, which indicates that River breeds, at least, have some cold tolerance.
Although water buffaloes are generally reared at low elevations, a herd of Swamp buffaloes is thriving at Kandep in Papua New Guinea, 2,500 m above sea level. And in Nepal, River buffaloes are routinely found at or above 2,800 m altitude.
Water buffaloes are well adapted to swamps and to areas subject to flooding. They are at home in the marshes of southern Iraq and of the Amazon, the tidal plains near Darwin, Australia, the Pontine Marshes in south-central Italy, the Orinoco Basin of Venezuela, and other areas.
In the Amazon, buffaloes (Mediterranean and Swamp breeds) are demonstrating their exceptional adaptability to flood areas. Buffalo productivity outstrips that of cattle, with males reaching 400 kg in 30 months on a diet of native grasses( Information supplied by C. Nascimento).
The advantage of water buffaloes over Holstein, Brown Swiss, and Criollo cattle was demonstrated in a test at Delta Amacuro, Venezuela, when the cattle developed serious foot rot In the wet conditions of the Orinoco Delta and had to be withdrawn from the test. The area of Venezuela is flooded 6 months of the year and creates constant problems for cattle, yet the buffalo seems to adapt well(*Information supplied by A. Ferrer).
High humidities seem to affect buffaloes less than cattle. In fact, if shade or wallows are available, buffaloes may be superior to cattle in humid areas.
In southern Brazil, trials comparing buffalo and cattle on subtropical riverine plains have favored the buffalo also. This work is being carried out on native pastures, mostly in the State of Sao Paulo.
Most buffaloes are located in countries where land, cultivated forage crops, and pastures are limited. Livestock must feed on poor-quality forages, sometimes supplemented with a little green fodder or byproducts from food, grain, and oil seed processing. Usually feedstuffs are in such short supply that few animals have a balanced diet, but the buffalo seems to perform fairly well under such adverse conditions.
Insufficient measurements have been taken to allow unequivocal state. meets about the relative growth rates of cattle and buffaloes. However, many observations made in various parts of the world indicate that the buffalo’s growth is seldom inferior to that of cattle breeds found in the same environments. Some observations are given below.
· Trials in Trinidad in the early 1960s involved buffaloes grazing pangola grass (Digitaria decumbens) together with Brahman and Jamaican Red cattle. Over a period of 20 months the buffaloes gained an average of 0.72 kg per day, whereas the cattle on a comparable nearby pasture gained 0.63 per day(Experiments performed by P. N. Wilson. -Information supplied by S. P. Bennett.).
· In the Orinoco Delta of Venezuela unselected Criollo/Zebu crossbred cattle gained 0-0.2 kg per day on Paspalum fasciculatum, whereas the water buffaloes with them gained 0.25-0.4 kg per day(Cunha et al., 1975).
· In the Apure Valley of Venezuela, 100 buffalo steers studied in 1979 reached an average weight of 508 kg in 30 months, whereas the 30-month old Zebu steers tested with them weighed 320 kg. The feed consumed was a blend of native grasses (25 percent of the diet) and improved grasses (such as pangola, pare, and guinea grass)( Information supplied by A. Ferrer). In the same valley 200 buffalo heifers (air freighted from Australia) produced weight gains averaging 0.5 kg per day over a 2-year period (and 72 percent of them calved). Government statistics for the area record average weight gains in crossbreeds between Zebu and Criollo cattle as 0.28 kg per day (with 40 percent calving).
· In the Philippines, buffaloes showed weight gains of 0.75-1.25 kg per day, the same as those of cattle.
· Daily weight gains of over 1 kg have been recorded for buffaloes in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
· Liveweight gains of 0.80 kg per day have been recorded for buffaloes in Papua New Guinea. In a very humid, swampy area of the Sepik River coastal plains liveweight gains by males averaged 0.47 kg per day and females 0.43 kg per day for more than a year. The average weight of 30 4-year-old female buffaloes was 375 kg, while the average weight of 4-year-old female Brahman/ Shorthorn crossbred cattle was 320 kg.
· At the research station near Belem in the Brazilian Amazon weaned Murrah buffaloes, pastured continuously on Echinochloa pyramidalis (a nutritious grass), gained 0.8 kg daily and reached 450 kg in about 18 months.
· Liveweight gains of 0.74-l.i kg per day have been obtained in Australia. Buffalo steers grew as fast or faster than crossbred Brahman cattle on several improved pastures near Darwin, but on one very poor pasture, 40-year-old buffaloes each weighed only 400 kg, whereas the Brahman crossbred steers reared with them weighed 500 kg. The reason for this is not clear.
Efficiency of Digestion
Indian animal nutritionists have investigated water buffaloes intensively over the past two decades. Many have reported that buffaloes digest feeds more efficiently than do cattle, particularly when feeds are of poor quality and are high in cellulose.One trial revealed that the digestibility of wheat straw cellulose was 24.3 percent for cattle and 30.7 percent for buffalo. The figures for berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum) cellulose were 34.6 percent for cattle and 52.2 percent for buffalo. In another trial the digestion of straw fiber was 64.7 percent in cattle, 79.8 percent in buffalo.
Other nutrients reported to be more highly digested in buffaloes than in cattle (Zebu) are crude fat, calcium and phosphorus, and nonprotein nitrogen.
Recent experiments in India suggest that buffaloes also are able to utilize nitrogen more efficiently than cattle. Buffaloes digested less crude protein than cattle in one trial but increased their body nitrogen more (and they were being fed only 40 percent of the recommended daily intake of crude protein).
The ability of buffaloes to digest fiber efficiently may be partly due to the microorganisms in their rumen. Several Indian research teams have published data indicating that the microbes in the buffalo rumen convert feed into energy more efficiently than do those in cattle (as measured by the rate of production of volatile fatty acids in the rumen).
Also, in laboratory studies samples of buffalo rumen contents produced volatile fatty acids more quickly from a variety of animal feedstuffs than did samples from the rumen of cattle
No single reason alone explains the buffalo’s success in using poor quality forages. Rather, it is a combination of reasons that differ with the breed and conditions used. Studies by other researchers suggest that additional causes might include:
· Higher dry matter intake;
· Longer retention of feed in digestive tract;
· Ruminal characteristics more favorable to ammonia-nitrogen utilization;
· Less depression of cellulose digestion by soluble carbohydrates (e.g., starch or molasses);
· Superior ability to handle stressful environment; and
· A wider range of grazing preferences.
Calf Growth Rates
Although the buffalo’s gestation period is more than a month longer than that of cattle, the calves are born weighing 35-40 kg, or about the same as that of a newborn Holstein calf. But because buffalo milk has about twice the butterfat of cow’s milk, the calves grow very quickly. They also suffer more shock at weaning and have to be slowly changed to their new feeding program. Buffaloes can be marketed as full-grown animals for beef at the age of 2-3 years, sometimes even earlier.
Table 5 Some Coarse Grasses and Forages Palatable to Buffaloes but Less Readily
For example, in Indonesia it has been found that buffalo steers can be marketed 6 months before Zebu steers because they may be 100 kg heavier. In Egypt some buffalo calves given feed supplemented with concentrates weighed 360 kg at 1 year of age. At Ain Shams University near Cairo, buffalo calves weaned at 7-14 days of age gained 0.7 kg per day from weaning to slaughter at 18 months of age and weighed 400 kg. Rice straw comprised 50 percent of the finishing diet.
Buffaloes on Italian farms have reached 350 kg in 15-18 months and some year-old calves weighed 320 kg.
Grazing trials on native pasture (with mineral supplementation) in the Brazilian Amazon indicate that buffalo calves grew faster than cattle. At 2 years of age Mediterranean-type buffaloes averaged 369 kg, Swamp type, 322 kg, and Jafarabadi type, 308 kg. The Zebu cattle tested with them averaged 265 kg and the crossbred Zebu/Charolais, 282 kg.
Buffaloes graze a wider range of plants than cattle. During floods near Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon when cattle become marooned on small patches of high ground, many suffer from foot rot and many starve to death. Their buffalo companions on the other hand-bodies sleek and full-swim out to islands of floating aquatic plants and eat them, treading water. Also, they dive almost 2 m to graze beneath the floodwaters.
University of Florida buffaloes in a lakefront voluntarily consumed vines, sedges, rushes, floating aquatic weeds, and the leaves and shoots of willows and other trees along the water’s edge. Few of these plants are voluntarily grazed by cattle. In northern Australia water buffaloes graze the very pickily leaves of pandanus; they also graze sedges, reeds, floating grass, and aquatic weeds. Hungry buffaloes will eat bark, twigs, and other unpalatable vegetation.
Because of the variety of their tastes they have been used in northern Queensland, Australia, to clear pastures of woody weeds left untouched by cattle. In some countries cattle are used to graze the palatable tops of pasture plants and are followed by buffaloes to graze the less desirable lower parts.
When compared with other domestic livestock, the water buffalo generally is a healthy animal. This is particularly impressive because most of them live in hot, humid regions that are conducive to disease, and the buffalo is a bovine susceptible to most diseases and parasites that afflict cattle. Although the reasons are not specifically known, the effect of disease on the buffalo and its productivity is often less deleterious than on cattle.
Antibiotics and vaccines developed for cattle work equally well on buffaloes. As a result, treatments are available for most of the serious diseases of buffaloes, although some are not very effective for either animal.
The greatest buffalo losses are often among calves. Newborn buffalo calves, like bovine calves, can succumb in large numbers to viruses, bacteria, and poor nutrition. This is largely due to poor management during the calf’s first 2 months of life. For example, as noted previously, villagers in some countries often sell the valuable buffalo milk, thus depriving the calves.
Buffalo calf losses are often similar to those of the cattle around them, but the animal’s proclivity for wallowing exposes calves to waterborne diseases. Further, a young one occasionally drowns when an adult rolls on top of it.
Reactions to some specific diseases and parasites are discussed below.
Pasteurellosis- Probably the water buffalo’s most serious disease, pasteurellosis, or hemorrhagic septicemia, is caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida (P. septica). Buffaloes are more susceptible to it than cattle and die in large numbers where pasteurellosis occurs. A vaccine against pasteurellosis is effective in protecting both buffaloes and cattle; it is cheap and easily made.
Tuberculosis- Despite some claims to the contrary, the water buffalo is susceptible to the bovine strain of tuberculosis (Alycobacterium bovis). Scattered reports from different parts of India indicate no difference in the incidence of infection between cattle and buffaloes(Information supplied by S. K. Misra, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab, India). Other strains of mycobacteria have been isolated from feral buffaloes and cattle in northern Australia but seem to have little effect on the animals. Tuberculosis occurs among the buffalo herds of the world only because most are kept under unsanitary conditions(In 1905 buffaloes were introduced to Trinidad because the cattle herds (Zebu and srahman breeds) were infected with tuberculosis and, in those days, it was thought that buffaloes were resistant to the disease. Most were housed in muddy, ill-kept pens and forced to eat sugarcane tops off the ground; consequently, in 1949 over 30 percent of the buffaloes reacted to the tuberculin test. (The cattle herds had 80 percent reactors.) Tuberculosis was eliminated in Trinidad’s buffaloes by improving the sanitary conditions: installing concrete floors and mangers and cleaning the pens regularly. This, together with regular tuberculin testing and removal of reactors, led to such a dramatic improvement that buffalo tuberculosis is now virtually unknown. -Information supplied by S. K. Bennett.)
Brucellosis-Buffaloes and cattle are equally susceptible to brucellosis. Although seldom reported as a problem elsewhere, brucellosis in Venezuela is increasing more rapidly among buffaloes than among cattle. In India the disease is no more prevalent among buffaloes than among cattle. As many as 57 percent of some Venezuelan herds are infected with the disease. It is a frequent cause of abortion in buffaloes. Serologic procedures and measures developed for the control of the disease in cattle are also effective means of curbing this infection in buffaloes. (Consumption of raw milk or contact with aborted fetuses may cause undulant fever in humans.)
Mastitis- Among milking buffaloes mastitis is a problem as it is in dairy cows, but to a lesser extent. It is likely to increase, however, as the milk production per individual buffalo is increased. The bacteria that cause mastitis in the buffalo are similar to those in cattle. Treatment and control programs used for cattle are equally effective for buffaloes.
Other Diseases -Among the epizootic diseases, rinderpest and piroplasmosis seem to affect buffaloes as much as cattle. Foot-and-mouth disease also affects buffaloes, but to a lesser degree than cattle, producing smaller lesions and having a lower incidence. In northern Australia buffaloes deliberately infected with bovine pleuropneumonia bacteria exhibited slight fever, but the disease never appeared. No naturally occurring eases have been reported in buffaloes.
Ticks -Buffaloes are notably resistant, although not immune, to ticks. In a tick-infested area of northern Australia only 2 engorged female ticks were found on 13 adult buffaloes during a 2-year test. Accordingly, healthy buffaloes are not commonly affected by diseases borne by ticks nor are the hides damaged by their bites. Since ticks are rarely found on buffaloes, anaplasmosis, theileriasis, and babesiosis, which are tick-borne, have little effect on buffaloes in the field. (Buffaloes and cattle are equally susceptible, however, if inoculated with East Coast fever, a form of theileriasis.) This is important because tick infestations in cattle are particularly troublesome in the tropics and the pesticides used to control them are becoming ineffective as the ticks develop resistance. The pesticides are also becoming expensive.
The basis of the buffalo’s tick resistance is not known, but wallowing and rubbing may play a role in it; animals kept in experimental concrete pens in Australia have developed heavy tick infestation. (rials carried out on Magnetic Island by R. H. V/harton, Commonwealth Scientiflc and Industrial Research Organisation, Townsville, Queensland, Australia).
Table 6 Some Infections and Parasites of Buffalo
Screwworm- Larvae of the screwworm fly (Callitroge species), a major pest of livestock in Central and South America and some other tropical areas, do not affect adult water buffalo. In Venezuelan areas where cattle (Zebu type) are severely infested, adult water buffaloes are virtually free of screwworm larvae and the umbilicus of newborn calves seldom if ever becomes infected. ( Information supplied by A. Ferrer).
The same is true in Papua New Guinea. It is thought that the mud plaster produced by wallowing suffocates the larvae, but in India screwworms do not affect water buffaloes either, and there they wallow in fairly clear water and the farmer usually washes them off.
Roundworm- The heavy losses of young buffalo calves throughout the world are caused, in large measure, by the roundworm Toxocara vitulorum. The calves seem more susceptible than mature animals and they become infected before birth or within 24 hours after birth through the mother’s colostrum. The roundworm is the most serious buffalo parasite and in untreated calves the small intestine can get packed with worms to the point of complete occlusion. Although huge numbers of calves die each year, anthelmintic drugs that control roundworms are highly effective and widely available.
The adult water buffalo appears to have a high degree of resistance to strongyloid nematodes. Being such excellent converters of rough fodders they do not suffer the nutritional deficiency and the resulting liability to these roundworms experienced seasonally by cattle.
Liver Fluke- During wallowing, water buffaloes can easily become infected with the waterborne infective stages of liver fluke (Fasciola gigantica). Although the number of flukes in a buffalo may be phenomenally high, no clinical signs of the disease are usually evident. It seems likely that the resulting liver damage reduces the growth and the work and milk production of buffaloes more than is generally appreciated.
Trypanosomiasis- The water buffalo is susceptible to trypanosomiasis and is reportedly more susceptible than cattle to Trypanosoma evansi.Experience with the animal in Africa is limited, but trypanosomiasis may be the reason why Egypt is the only African country that has traditionally employed water buffalo.
Other Parasites- The wallow and its resulting mud cake seem to protect water buffalo from many biting flies, but the main ectoparasite in Australia and Southeast Asia is the buffalo fly (Siphona spp.). Pediculosis, caused by the sucking louse (Hematopinus tuberculatus), occurs widely among buffalo, and sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei var. bubalus) is a serious disease, especially among calves and during dry seasons when wallowing opportunities are restricted. The lung worm Dictyocaulus ririparus thrives in warm, humid areas and sometimes infects buffaloes heavily, although its outward manifestations are rare.
The Water Buffalo: New Prospects for an Underutilized Animal (BOSTID, 1981, 111 p.)