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It is truly astounding how each gift of livestock can change the lives of Heifer participants all around the world. I've seen it each time I've traveled for work. But I've never been more impressed than when I saw some water buffalo projects on my trip to Cambodia in 2010.

Imposing creatures to be sure, water buffalo are actually quite gentle and patient (as you can see from the photo above as this animal allowed three little boys to ride on her back).  It was really fun to watch Seng Ouy bathe his family’s water buffalo. The animal’s reaction to the bath reminded me a lot of what my basset hound looks like when I put him in the tub to wash him down.

Water buffalo are prized in Cambodia. Often too expensive for smallholder farmers to purchase on their own, water buffalo often serve as “living tractors” for farming families in Southeast Asia. The draft animals can help families plant up to five times more crops than they would be able to plant by hand.  And rice planting is backbreaking work.

water buffalo bath

The gentle giants also provide families with milk rich in calcium and protein that can transform malnourished children. Plus, the fats in buffalo milk make it ideal for processing into cheeses that also help build strong bones.

Another benefit families see from water buffalo is manure. Adult water buffalo produce about six tons of manure a year, and for families that have biogas digesters, that manure provides precious methane to power cook stoves and lamps.

Give the gift of a water buffalo today. You’ll be providing a family with a valuable tool that will give them plenty in return.

This post is part of our What to Give series, where we're helping you choose the best Heifer gift for your loved ones. Read previous What to Give posts here, and subscribe to the What to Give series here.

Still don't know what to give? Check out our entire online Gift Catalog.


Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.