Buffaloes on bill of fare for dairy palates
MALENY'S Thompson family knows a thing or two about dairying, but their farm is different from most.
For almost a decade, Mal and Margaret have been working hard to breed some of the best dairy buffaloes in the country.
Only one other buffalo dairy in Queensland, at Milla Milla in the far north, feeds the growing demand for Australian palates.
"Their milk makes for quality cheese, but I enjoy all the buffalo products," Mrs Thompson said.
They are milking 18 of the herd. "We must be doing something right as they're averaging about eight litres of milk a day."
A select few of the almost 100 water buffalo that graze on their quiet farm at Witta, just outside of Maleny, will be at this year's Farm Fantastic.
"Australia's moved on in its tastes. The cheese made from their milk is smoother, like velvet, and the mozzarella is totally different," she said. "We supply milk for making cheeses, to people such as Trevor Hart." Mr Hart is an award-winning cheesemaker based in Maleny, whose work has been praised by none other than leading food authority Maggie Beer.
Mrs Thompson said their hand-reared Mediterranean animals were quiet and highly intelligent. "Never let them learn anything you don't want them to know, as they pick up on things very quickly," she laughed. "They're friendly. If you lean on the rail they'll probably give you a lick."
Grand-daughter Sarah Peters is one of several grandchildren who grew up with the buffaloes, and is as comfortable around them as any other farmyard animal.
"They do like the kids, but Sarah definitely has built up a bond with them," Mrs Thompson said.
The Thompson clan has been on the same land since 1903, with Mal and Margaret taking up dairying in 1968.
The buffalo will be at Farm Fantastic expo at Caboolture Showgrounds from August 22 to 24. Go to http://www.farmfantasticexpo.com.au or call 5428 1851.