Numbering 71,000 head in the early 1950s, the number of Greek bred water buffalos has dropped significantly. However, there are signs that the practice of raising the cattle is reviving as a new generation of farmers are developing herds. The main reasons for the decline are the draining of wetlands, the introduction of dairy cows, and people abandoning farming as Greece modernized after the war.
The majority of Greece’s water buffalo farms (19 farms with about 2,000 animals) are in the area around Lake Kerkini, Serres and the Thessaloniki region of Macedonia. There are 8 other smaller breeding units scattered around Greece from the Gulf of Corinth northward.
Unlike Italy where water buffalos are raised chiefly for their milk (Buffalo Mozzarella), the revival in Greece is being generated by farmers who are raising animals for their meat and milk. Touting the low fat, high protein content of buffalo flesh, the farmers also point out the higher fat content of buffalo milk. To produce 1 kg of cheese takes only 5 kg of buffalo milk compared to 8 kg of cow’s milk.
Water Buffalo were first introduced in Greece in the 13th century primarily to work as draft animals. In 2004 the buffalo population was only 1,000 head but has steadily risen to number more than 3,000 (2011 data) at 300% increase in 8 years.
We mentioned the prime breeding area of Lake Kerkini in an earlier post…https://skopelosarts.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/bee-eaters-gone/