Mediterranea Italiana

The Mediterranea Italiana is a breed of Italian river buffalo that are well known for their milk-yielding abilities. Although these bovids have been used as draught animals, to keep waterways, channels, drainage systems clean from weeds. In Europe, the buffalo population had dramatically been declining since the World War II, with the introduction of the Holstein dairy cattle, and with gradual mechanization.

Bufala Mediterranea Italiana
Bufala Mediterranea Italiana

Quick Description

Also known as Italian Mediterranean, Bufala Mediterranea Italiana
Physical Characteristics The structure has a compact conformation with a deep, wide chest and a developed pectoral; the back is short; the rump is short, and the udder is medium size with the quarters squarely placed; the teats are cylindrical
Skin Color Black, black and brown, dark grey or slate
Hair Black
Horn Horns are flat at the base, backwards, and are slightly pointed outwards while the top is pointed inwards
Type River buffalo
Uses Milk production, dairy; also for meat production; formerly drought, ploughing
Milk Production Normally 1600–1800 kg per lactation period (up to 3000 kg)
Meat Production 250-400 kg (Average slaughter weight at 12-15 months)
Popular Traits Yielding high quality milk; hardy and economical to rear
Calving At age 50 months (average)
Lactation Duration 277 days
Lifespan/Expectancy 15 to 18 years
Weight Male: Average 500–600 kg (up to 800 kg);
Female: Average 300–450 kg (up to 650 kg)
(adults)
Height (size) Male: 143 cm;
Female: 135 cm
(adult averages)
Food/Diet Coarse feed, straw and corn products, roughage etc.
Country of Origin Italy

History

There are several theories that suggest the introduction of these bovines in Italy, however, none are confirmed. One theory suggests that, it was during the time of the Roman Empire that the Mediterranea Italiana was introduced in into the realms of Italia. However, it is also thought that, this breed of cattle was brought in to Italy during the time of the Barbarian invasions of Italy.

Bufala Mediterranea Italiana Images
Bufala Mediterranea Italiana Images

In 1980, within a year from the formation of the ‘Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Specie Bufalina’ (National Buffalo Species Farmers’ Association), a genealogical herd-book for this breed was opened. The breed got an official recognition in 2000.

In Italy, the Mediterranean type has particularly been named as the ‘Mediterranean Italian’ breed so as to differentiate it from the other European breeds, which genetically differ from the other.

Mediterranea Italiana
Mediterranea Italiana

Distribution

Other than Italy, the Mediterranean buffalo are also found in Greece, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, and with a few hundred in Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Mediterranea Italiana Pictures
Mediterranea Italiana Pictures

Milk and Dairy Products

There is a dramatic variability in the average daily milk production for these bovines. It mainly depends on the daily feeding system. Milk production can range from 3 – 4 kg per day for bovines that are fed poorly, up to 15 kg/day in case of intensive management systems. Their milk has 40% more protein, 43% less cholesterol, and 58% more calcium than cow milk. The fat content is 7.92%.

Mediterranea Italiana Images
Mediterranea Italiana Images

These buffalo are raised, following selective breeding, primarily for yielding buffalo milk for the production of buffalo mozzarella. Other dairy products like yoghurt, scamorza di bufala, stracchino di bufala, stracciatella di bufala, burrata, caciotta di bufala, and ricotta di bufala are also made from their milk.

Images of Mediterranea Italiana
Images of Mediterranea Italiana

Interesting Facts

  • The Italian Mediterranean is the only indigenous water buffalo breed in Italy.
  • Mozzarella made of Mediterranea Italiana milk has a ‘DOP’ status, a quality assurance label for Italian food products (especially Italian wine and cheese).

Video: Making Organic Mozzarella from Mediterranea Italiana Milk

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