Give a Water Buffalo, the Tractor that Poops

By Brooke Edwards

October 3, 2019

Last Updated: December 9, 2011

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Known as "the living tractor of the East," the water buffalo is used mostly for plowing and transportation by families in Asia. In addition to plowing, water buffalo also provide nutritious milk and organic fertilizer.

Photo by Russell Powell

The isolated village of Simbalan is among the poorest in the Philippines. Damiana and Danilo Ramos had finally saved up enough money to buy their own land, but they never could save enough for a large animal. That's when Heifer gave them a water buffalo. The Ramos family estimates they can now plow and plant five times faster with the help of their water buffalo. And that means they have been able to more than double their income to about $2.77 per day by selling yams and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

With a water buffalo, families can plant up to five times more crops than they would be able to plant by hand. More crops mean more food to eat and store at harvest time, and more left over to sell for extra income.

An adult water buffalo can produce up to six tons of manure a year. For families that have biogas digesters, the methane gas released by the manure can be used to power cook stoves and lamps. Biogas stoves eliminate wood-burning stoves that lead to deforestation and can cause respiratory ailments.

The milk from a water buffalo is rich in nutrients. Buffalo milk is higher in calcium and protein than cow milk–two nutrients critical for growing bodies. Plus, the fats in buffalo milk make it ideal for processing into cheeses that also help build strong bones.

This holiday season, give the gift of a water buffalo to your college roommate, Corey, who was a beast and could bench press 300 pounds easy.