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Behaviour

  • Feeding behavior

Buffaloes are strict grazers and only browse when feed is utterly scarce. Normally, buffaloes graze during the day. In case of extremely high ambient temperatures, grazing takes place in the morning and afternoon and sometimes during night timeBuffaloes graze more and better than cattle.

 

Thereby they consume more feed and nutrients per kg of body weight than cattle do.Newborn calves suckle their mothers within two hours of birth. Normal suckling frequency is approximately 6 to 8 times per day. The calves start to nibble grass at 3 to 4 weeks of age, although they are not actually grazing until after a few weeks more. When the calves have reached two months of age, forage starts to become more important than previously and soon most of the nutrient intake comes from forage rather than milk. Natural weaning of calves is usually within a year or before its mother’s next parturition.

  • Wallowing behavior

Wallowing has two purposes; the most obvious is that of cooling, the other is protection from insects. Wallowing during daytime is done during the hottest hours. Wallowing during nighttime is instead a way for the animal to protect itself from insects.The buffalo has few sweat glands and a dark skin which makes it difficult for them to maintain their body temperature in hot and humid environments. Wallowing is a very important way for the buffaloes to maintain heir body temperature.When buffaloes enter the water, they defecate and/or urinate. This seems to be a way to mark their wallow.Wallowing behavior is a learnt behavior. An animal that has not wallowed from birth with other animals will not do so on its own. Teaching such an animal to wallow is almost impossible for humans. The buffalo has to learn it from other buffaloes, even so, the adult buffalo will be very suspicious and may not wallow by its own choice.If no water or mud hole is available, the buffaloes behave more like cattle. They will seek shade and graze more during the cool hours and less during the hot hours.

  • Communication

The most important way among buffaloes to communicate is by smell. The buffaloes recognize each other by smelling each other. Smell is used when marking a territory. Buffaloes will rub themselves against trees to leave scent and they defecate to mark their territory.Vocal communication is important especially from calves. There are both friendly and hostile vocal communications. Posture is important when deciding rank and dominance order. A threatening animal will lower and shake its head.

  • Breeding behavior

Males and females live in separate groups. They will merge in the beginning of the wet season for mating. The bulls can detect females in heat by their scent and find their camp. There is a period of foreplay before the actual mating takes place. This period is 1 to 3 days and allows the animals to get to know each other.The bull will not leave a female in estrus and he will not allow another bull to come near her. Only the most dominant bulls will mate.

  • Mother-calf behavior

There are very strong bonds between the mother and her calf. If the calf is a male, the bond holds for approximately 2 to 3 years. Thereafter the calf is driven from the clan. In the case of a female calf, the bond exists for life.Shortly before parturition the mother moves away to give birth alone. Within 30 minutes after the calf is born all members of the clan has “inspected” the newborn and touched it with their noses. Nearly all members of the group have come from this inspection. This inspection seems to serve as an introduction of the newly born. It also facilitates adoption of the calf if the mother should die. Adoptions always occur among buffalos whereas it is hardly seen in other species.

                                         

The calf walks with its mother as soon as it can stand. This behavior is different from cattle where the cow leaves its calf to go grazing. Nursing of the calves is common among buffaloes. The calves are left with a “care-taking-animal” who is often a female, but seldom a young bull. The other females go away to graze and leave their calves. Should there be a threat to the calves, they will simply call and their mothers will come running to their aid.

source : Buffalo Milk Production - Introduction to buffaloes