REPRODUCTION IN THE BUFFALO COW -AN OVERVIEW
The world population of 158 million domestic buffaloes, Bubalus bubalis has been broadly classified into the swamp and river types. Roughly 97% of them (153 million heads) are water buffaloes mainly found in the Asian Region and used as draft animals in the rice fields of the eastern half of Asia. The River buffalo is the dairy animal in countries extending from India and Pakistan to the Mediterranean countries and Egypt. Information gleaned, up to now, regarding the physiopathology of reproduction, cannot be considered definitive. Over 90% of the buffalo population is reared in developing countries where not enough attention is paid to research. This leads to buffalo behaviour often mistakenly likened to that of bovine. In fact, a species which tends to be seasonal (negative photo periodic), is more similar to sheep and goats. It originates in tropical and subtropical regions and shows a reproductive efficiency which is influenced by its environment, climate and breeding purpose. Many researchers reported that the buffalo has silent heat, delayed puberty, long postpartum ovarian inactivity and on the whole, poor fertility. On the other hand, when the buffalo were bred without modification of its natural seasonality and the females were always kept with the males, the inter-calving intervals of less than 400 days and a culling rate of less than 12% were found in Italy, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina. Therefore, reproductive efficiency was found to be lower in developing countries on family- run farms without the presence of the bull or on large scale farms when estrus is visibly identified and A.I. is practised.
The aim of the present review is to throw light on some reproductive physiological characteristics of the buffalo species which influence its response to improve the reproductive efficiency in such animal.