North Dakota Buffalo Association


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Buffalo Production

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Buffalo are hardy animals and seem to resist many of the illnesses that plague cattle. When they are maintained under close confinement, however, problems will erupt. All producers should be wary of, and maintain a control program for, parasites. This is especially important when buffalo are crowded, or raised in areas of heavy rainfall and fast grass growth. Producers need to learn about parasite life cycles, and then develop a worming program that will break the cycle. Also be aware of the worming products you are using. No one product on the market that will control all parasites. Determine what you want to kill, and then use the product that will do the job. Rotating pastures is not only good range management, but it also helps to break the parasite cycle.

For animal health purposes, the state and the federal government regulate buffalo the same as they do cattle. Buffalo need health certificates when they change ownership. Requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the state of destination when transporting buffalo interstate. All states require brucellosis and tuberculosis tests. Other tests, such as anaplasmosis, may also be required. It is wise to quarantine any new additions before turning them into your herd. A period of observation can save you a lot of grief later on. The smart buyer will also research the health history of the herd being purchased, and learn what, if any, vaccinations the animals have had.

For the most part, protecting buffalo from the various problems that affect cattle is a personal matter. There are many strong advocates of vaccinating with 7-Way for the clostridiums. Some also prefer protecting against pinkeye, rather than treating the problem after it erupts. When just starting out, we recommend that you visit with established producers, preferably those raising buffalo under the conditions you will maintain, and then adopt the practices that apply to those conditions.

Calfhood vaccination against brucellosis has become very common in recent years. The reduced-dose vaccination approved by the USDA several years ago has made this vaccination relatively safe, and since many states require this anyway, it is prudent to maintain a vaccinated herd if selling breeding stock is to be part of your overall program. Don't, however, vaccinate bulls against Bangs. It causes sterility and is not required by law.

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