Integration of Multifunctional Dairy Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) into a Whole Farm System in Hawaii: economic, ecological and social benefits.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $19,178.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G332-20-W7900
Grant Recipient: Kauai Organic Agroecosystems (KOA)
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Donald Heacock
Kauai Organic Agroecosystems (KOA)

Information Products


  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: dairy, meat


  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems

    Proposal summary:

    This project will demonstrate that the integration of multi-functional dairy water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), using holistic management techniques, into Kauai Organic AgroecoSystem’s (KOA) 25-acre integrated aquaculture (tilapia)-agriculture (taro) commercial organic agroforestry farm in Hawaii will improve the economic, ecological and social conditions of our whole farm system. KOA will produce organic raw milk and associated value-added products (e.g. cheeses) for our local community via “herdshare agreements and bill of sale”.  Also we will train our young bull as a draught animal to harrow, puddle, and level our taro pondfields, to pull a wagon of fresh produce to farmer’s markets, to pull a wagon full of “agrotourists” around our farm during  farm tours, and for logging. 

     Our small dairy buffalo herd, the first in Hawaii, is composed of 4 adult buffalo cows (3 are lactating, another due to calf in December), 2 cow calves, one bull calf .  Furthermore, our 3 currently lactating buffalo cows are scheduled for artificial insemination (AI) on November 18 this month and would calve again in September 2020.  

    Because Hawaii imports virtually 100% of its dairy products, we plan to provide our local community with fresh, organic, raw milk, and value-added products like cheeses and butter, from grass fed pastured buffalo.  Our dairy buffalo will reduce our dependency on imported dairy products, increase our net economic returns, reduce our fossil fuel and fertilizer imports, help to control invasive wetland weeds, and improve endangered Hawaiian water bird habitat. Ultimately, we plan a "dairy buffalo cooperative" with producers throughout Hawaii and the Pacific.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Use artificial insemination (AI)  to expand herd (Dr. Mishra; Dr. Moreaux; Applicant); Yr 1-3

    2) Develop/implement Gazing Management Plan (GMP) and intensive rotational grazing system (Dr. Thorne; Ms Katulski; Applicant); Yr 1-2

    3) Produce raw milk and/or value-added products (e.g., mozzarella cheese), (Dr. Azizi, Cheese maker; Applicant); Yr 1-3

    4) Establish “Herdshare Agistment and Bill of Sale” contracts with local consumers to allow their access to raw, nutritional milk (FTCLDF; Applicant); Yrs 1-3

    4) Measure milk yields (kg/day), duration of lactation (Applicant); Yrs 1-3

    5) Measure calf birth, weaning and growth rates (kg/day), monitor average daily gain (ADG) in weights of calves, measure gain per/acre/groups of calves/month (Applicant; Ms. Katulski); Yrs 1-3

    6) Train buffalo bull for draught for taro production, for pulling wagon of fresh produce to the farmer’s markets and agrotourism (Mr. Wong, Oxen Trainer; Applicant); Yrs 1-3 

    7) Compare draught buffalo power to tractor power for harrowing taro pondfields , quantify cost savings in fossil fuel use reduction (Applicant); Yr 2-3

    8) Begin farm tours (agrotourism) with draught bull and wagon (Applicant); Yr-3

    9) Conduct educational outreach via farm workshops, field days, PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos, Surveys and other social media (Mr. Wolf, Video Producer; Applicant). Yrs 1-3

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.