Philippine water buffalo

Ark of taste
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Carabao

Carabao, or water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis Carabanesis), represents hard work and perseverance; it is the best buddy of Filipino farmers in rice fields. This animal has the low, wide, and heavy build of drought-resistant species; they vary in colour from light grey to slate grey, and the horns are sickle-shaped or curve backward toward the neck. Mature male carabaos weigh 420–500 kg; female carabaos weigh between 400 and 425kg. The height of the male ranges from 127 to 137cm, and that of the female is 124 to 129cm, with white or yellowish hair.
These buffalos can adjust to hot and humid climates. Water availability is also considered in hot climates because these beasts need wallows, rivers, and splashing water to lessen the heat load and thermal stress. They have an average lifespan of 18 to 20 years, and females give birth to one calf annually.

The oldest evidence of carabao found in the Philippines is a number of fragmentary skeletal bones dug from the upper layer of the Neolithic Nagsarban site area of the Lal-lo and Gattaran shell middens of northern Luzon. Carabaos were initially imported to the Philippines by at least 500 BCE; they are widely scattered on the larger islands of the Philippines. The Spanish term carabao originated from the Visayan word karabaw. Other words that have a common etymological origin include Cebuano Kabaw, Javenese kebo, Malay ketbau, and Indonesian Dutch karbouw.

Carabaos usually eat in the cool weather of the mornings and evenings, and local communities are celebrating carabao festivals in different regions. However, Bulalo is a traditional recipe that is cooked by slow-boiling water with shanks and assorted vegetables. Both milk and meat products are rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that has been found to possess many benefits, including reducing the risks of cancer and diabetes and supporting bone and weight maintenance. Its distinctive feature is that it is made from unskimmed carabao milk and salt curled with vinegar or citrus processed to make a white cheese that is locally called Kesong puti.

The carabao is produced only in limited quantities because of its old age and the industrialization of agricultural land and pastures, which affected the supply of meat and milk. The Philippine Carabao Center was formed to conserve, cultivate, and build up the carabao’s image as a source of draft animal power, meat, milk, and hide to help rural farmers through carabao improvement, dissemination, and construction of carabao-based enterprises, thus guaranteeing higher profits and better nutrition and conserving our meadows diversity in providing foods for our livestock.

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Breeds and animal husbandry

Nominated by:Maria Isabel Sabareza