Buffalo are a large and powerful creature with a long history.
Like any other creature, buffalo have a unique diet that sustains their lifestyle, including milk production and other nutritional needs.
However, as the seasons change and the dry season emerges, buffalo have to shift their diet to get the most of the nutrients in their food.
Since dry season is when buffalo food sources lose their optimal nutritional value, buffalo turn to pre-harvested roughage and various grasses that sustain their nutritional needs.
In this article we will explore the following queries surrounding buffalo diets during dry seasons:
- What is the “dry season” for buffalo?
- Are buffalo herbivores?
- What types of roughage do buffalo eat during the dry season?
- What nutrients do buffalo need in the dry season?
- How much do buffalo eat during the dry season?
- Does the dry season diet differ among different types of buffalo?
What Is the “Dry Season” for Buffalo?
Dry season for buffalo is when the weather shifts away from wet season and leaves their food sources – mostly grasses and legumes – at a lower quality of nutrition. In the case of African buffalo, the dry season is a time when male buffalo leave their herds to form “bachelor groups” based on their age.
Contrastingly, the wet season is when male buffalo come back to their herds, mate with females, and protect the young.
This pattern is also common among different types of buffalo around the world.
Dry season differs in different geographical locations, but there is a common denominator that buffalo must find different food to sustain their nutritional needs.
Are Buffalo Herbivores?
Yes, buffalo are herbivores, meaning they only eat vegetation (plant life). Although their massive size and power may lead one to believe that they are carnivores, buffalo sustain themselves on various types of grasses, herbs, and aquatic plants, etc.
Because of their size and the fact that they only eat plant life, buffalo must graze and eat large quantities of vegetation every day to maintain their needs.
What Types of Roughage Do Buffalo Eat During the Dry Season?
Buffalo eat several different types of vegetation. The main types in a buffalo’s diet include:
- Aquatic plants
On occasion, buffalo will also turn to shrubs and trees for sustenance if they can’t find enough of the other forms of vegetation.
Grasses are prominent in a buffalo diet, but in the dry season, grasses do not contain their highest amount of nutrients.
During the wet season, grasses will be at their highest sugar and protein content, which is how buffalo get most of their energy.
The grass dries out as the season transitions, though.
This is why people who keep buffalo as livestock will harvest the grass while it’s still at its optimal nutritional value (before the dry season comes around).
Leguminous forage is another main source of protein for buffalo.
Buffalo typically consume legumes by grazing them in a pasture, or they obtain them from farm-conserved roughage that also includes grains, oil-seed cakes, sugar cane tops, and more.
Some herbaceous legumes buffalo eat include:
Alfalfa is one of the most important of the three since it contains a high Vitamin E and calcium content, which buffalo need for lactation.
In terms of aquatic plants, this type of feed is more common in water buffalo, who will eat water canes, reeds, water hyacinth, and other aquatic vegetation.
What Nutrients Do Buffalo Need in the Dry Season?
The main nutrients that a buffalo diet requires include proteins, fat, carbs, minerals, and water. Buffalo don’t need very much fat, but they do require significant amounts of protein and carbohydrates (sugar), to get the bulk of their energy.
So, in the dry season, when buffalo are mainly feeding off of harvested roughage, farmers will include vegetation with a lot of fiber for the buffalo.
And protein is most important in the buffalo diet for milk production and growth.
Vitamins A and E are the main vitamins that buffalo need to have supplemented into their diet via roughage, which they can usually get from fresh grass as well as silage.
Furthermore, because the dry season provides much less fresh grass and vegetation, buffalo need to drink higher quantities of water itself to get their water intake.
Key Takeaway: Fresh grass and feed usually contain a lot of the water that buffalo need, but when it comes to dry feed, they need to supplement.
How Much Do Buffalo Eat During the Dry Season?
It’s important to note that lactating buffalo require more food than males in order to keep their milk production up to par.
This means consuming up to 3% of its own weight per day.
This could be up to 100 pounds of roughage per day, whereas meat buffalo only require about 35 pounds per day.
Does the Dry Season Diet Differ among Different Types of Buffalo?
Yes, the dry season will lead to different diets for different types of buffalo. Even water buffalo experience a dry season where they live, but they have easier access to the foods they normally eat if they can take up habitat near a water source.
Depending on whether or not a buffalo is wild or grazing on a farmer’s land, it will have different needs.
A farmer can easily supply harvested roughage for their buffalo in the dry season, but those in the wild will have to find other sources of food.
Dry season is when male buffalo leave the herd temporarily to join bachelor herds, and the sources of vegetative food start to lose their key nutrients.
During this time, buffalo must intake more water and consume roughage that got harvested before the dry season in order to get the necessary vitamins, protein, and carbs.