by Samantha Townsend
It’s 8am and the last of the buffaloes to be milked are waiting patiently in the yards.
“It’s your turn soon, Bessie,” Ian Massingham says.
The Massingham’s buffalo dairy at Tamban on the NSW mid-north coast is similar to a conventional cow dairy, only on a smaller scale.
But like dairy cattle, as soon as milking is finished the day is only just beginning for the Massinghams.
Mr Massingham’s wife Kim comes down from the kitchen to hand her husband a coffee before calling the buffalo by name and walking them 500 metres up the road to their paddock for the day.
But before that happens Wendell, an orphan buffalo calf, has to be bottle fed.
They then head up to the cafe to start making today’s gelato and cheese while getting ready to open the doors for customers.
When the Massinghams stumbled across mozzarella cheese in Italy a decade ago little did they realise they would end up one day producing their own.
“I didn’t realise mozzarella came from buffalo and then we watched a video of a buffalo being milked and started toying with the idea that we do something like that,” Mrs Massingham says.
Two years later they purchased their first buffaloes that grazed on their Hawkesbury property north of Sydney.
As the herd grew they went in search of another property and found the ideal location on the mid-north coast overlooking beautiful rolling farmland and lush paddocks.
From a herd of 100 they milk 18 buffaloes a day, producing around three litres of milk valued at $3.90/litre raw, compared to a normal cow that produces 35-50 litres a day valued at 48 cents/litre.
“We only milk them once a day in the morning and leave their calves with them during the day. If we took the calves off them then they would produce around eight litres a day,” Mr Massingham says.
Buffalo milk offers a real alternative to people suffering from cow’s milk intolerance, mainly due to its natural 100 per cent a2 protein structure, he says.
“It is a rich source of riboflavin and vitamins B12, A and C. In fact it has double the vitamin C almost double the calcium, half the cholesterol and three times more antioxidant than cow’s milk.”
They process the milk on-farm to make gelato, yogurt and cheese including feta, mozzarella, halloumi and labna.
Buffalo meat is used in dishes from lasagne to osso bucco on the menu sold in their café, which is open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and Friday and Saturday night on demand.