The Italian Mediterranean Buffalo or Bufala Mediterranea Italiana is an Italian breed of water buffalo. It is of the River sub-type of water buffalo and is similar to the buffalo breeds of Hungary, Romania and the Balkan countries. It is the only indigenous water buffalo breed in Italy.: 94 A herd-book was opened in 1980, and the breed was officially recognised in 2000.
|Other names||Bufala Mediterranea Italiana|
|Country of origin||Italy|
|Distribution||throughout Italy, principally Campania|
|Use||dairy, meat; formerly draught|
|Skin colour||dark slate-grey|
There are conflicting hypotheses concerning the origins of the European water buffalo: one, based on fossil bones found in the valleys of the Elbe and the Rhine, is that it descends from the extinct European wild species Bubalus murrensis; others believe that water buffalo were brought to Europe in the sixth and seventh centuries by invading peoples such as the Pannonian Avars, or later, by crusaders returning from Mesopotamia.: 967 Detailed studies of the DNA of European buffalo have not been made.: 967
The buffalo may have been introduced into Italy in Roman times, or during the Barbarian invasions of the Italian peninsula.: 94
In 1979 a national association of buffalo breeders, the Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Specie Bufalina, was formed, and a genealogical herd-book for the buffalo was opened in the following year.: 94 The Mediterranea Italiana breed was officially recognised in 2000.
In 1953 the total number of buffalo in Italy was estimated at 40000 head.: 94 The numbers of buffalo reported by the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica in 2012 and 2013 were, by region:
The Mediterranea Italiana is black, with dark slate-grey skin and black hooves. White markings may be present on the head, on the lower legs or on the switch of the tail.: 95 Total albinism may occur, but is much less common than in the buffaloes of Asia, where the incidence of albinism is in the range 5–8%.: 95
Bulls commonly stand about 143 cm at the withers, with a weight of some 500–600 kg; they may reach weights of up to 800 kg. Sexual dimorphism is less marked in domestic buffalo than in cattle; cows stand about 138 cm, with weights in the range 300–450 kg.: 95
In the past the buffalo was widely used as a draught animal. Buffalo also kept waterways and drainage channels clear of weed, swimming in the deeper parts and wading in the shallows.
The Mediterranea Italiana is now raised and selectively bred principally for the production of the buffalo milk used to make buffalo mozzarella, notably the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana of Campania, which has Denominazione di origine protetta (DOP) status.: 95 Other dairy products including burrata, caciotta di bufala, ricotta di bufala, scamorza di bufala, stracchino di bufala, stracciatella di bufala and yoghurt are also made from the milk. Lactation lasts on average 277 days, and usually yields 1600–1800 kg of milk; yields of 2000–3000 kg per lactation are not uncommon.: 95 In 2012 a total of 192455300 kg of buffalo milk was produced in Italy, about 1.7% of total milk production in that year; the fat content was an average of 7.92%.
Some are butchered, either for fresh meat or for preserved meat products such as bresaola di bufalo.: 95 In 2012 a total of 118653 buffalo were slaughtered in Italy, for a total live weight of 47416700 kg, approximately 2.7% of the total weight of bovines slaughtered that year. The average carcass yield was 50.6%.
- ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 23 June 2020.
- ^ Breed data sheet: Bufala Mediterranea Italiana / Italy (Buffalo). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed July 2022.
- ^ Breed data sheet: Bufala mediterranea italiana. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed September 2013.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Daniele Bigi, Alessio Zanon (2008). Atlante delle razze autoctone: Bovini, equini, ovicaprini, suini allevati in Italia (in Italian). Milan: Edagricole. ISBN 9788850652594. p. 92–95.
- ^ a b Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
- ^ Home (in Italian). Associazione nazionale allevatori specie bufalina. Accessed February 2014.
- ^ Tavola B01B - Consistenza del bestiame bovino e bufalino al 1° dicembre. Bovini di 2 anni e più, bufalini e totali (numero di capi). Dettaglio per regione - Anno 2012 (in Italian). Istituto Nazionale di Statistica. Accessed February 2014.
- ^ Tavola B01B - Consistenza del bestiame bovino e bufalino al 1° dicembre. Bovini di 2 anni e più, bufalini e totali (numero di capi). Dettaglio per regione - Anno 2013 (in Italian). Istituto Nazionale di Statistica. Accessed July 2014.
- ^ Un animale straordinario: Passato (in Italian). Consorzio di Tutela della Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. Accessed February 2014.
- ^ Tavola L02 - Latte raccolto presso le aziende agricole dall'industria lattiero-casearia per tipo (quantità in quintali) . Dettaglio per ripartizione geografica - Anno 2012 (in Italian). Istituto Nazionale di Statistica. Accessed February 2014.
- ^ Tavola L04 - Quantità di latte e crema a disposizione dell' industria lattiero-casearia, per specie animale (quantità in quintali) - Anno 2012 (in Italian). Istituto Nazionale di Statistica. Accessed February 2014.
- ^ Tavola AMR13 - Bestiame macellato a carni rosse - (Gennaio - Dicembre) - Anno 2012 (in Italian). Istituto Nazionale di Statistica. Accessed February 2014.
- Antonio Borghese (2005). Buffalo Production and Research. REU Technical Series 67. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.