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Classification & Breeds

The domestic water buffalo Bubalus bubalis, belongs to the family Bovidae, sub-family Bovinae, genus bubalis and species arni or wild Indian buffalo (Chantalakhana and Falvey, 1999). Buffalo are classified into two distinct classes: swamp buffalo and river buffalo. 

Swamp Buffaloes   

The swamp type is most common in Southeast Asia where it is mostly employed as a draught animal, particularly in rice cultivation. It has derived its name from the natural habitat which is swamp or marshland. Swamp buffaloes resemble the wild arni in morphological characteristics. Recently, its potential as a meat producer has been discovered. Some strains of the swamp type are larger than others, but there are no distinct breeds. Swamp buffaloes have a very low milk yield and are not used as milk producers. However, crossings between river and swamp buffaloes have been attempted in Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and China on a large scale. These crossbred buffaloes are powerful work animals, and produce good quality meat and more milk than the indigenous buffaloes.  

River Buffaloes      

The river buffalo is the most common type in India, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Italy and Egypt. They are also found in Brazil and Caucasia. The river buffaloes are massive in size mostly with curled horns, prefers to wallow in clean water and rivers, thereby the name. River buffaloes have been selected for milk production to a larger extent and some river breeds. E.g. Murrah, Nili-Ravi and others are solely used for milk production. India, Pakistan, Italy and Egypt have a widespread culture of consuming buffalo milk. These countries are the most prominent in research on buffaloes.