On the next episode, screening 12 March 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
When Annie Wills and Phil Armstrong decided to set up a buffalo farm in the Whangaripo Valley North of Auckland, they didn’t even know where to start looking for stock.
“I just thought, they are like cows. We are living amongst some of the best dairy farmers in the world” says Annie Armstrong. “How difficult can it be to farm buffalo?”
They found their milking and breeding buffalo stock in Northern Queensland and eight years on, Annie’s brave venture has proved to be the perfect business for her entire family.
Phil and Annie farm 100 River and Swamp water buffalo in the hills above Matakana with their two sons and Annie’s parents Chris and Pam Wills. They also run a cheese factory at their Dairy Flat home farm.
“We’ve learned to love our buffalo” says Annie. “They are not like cows; they are quirky and have their own sweet personality. They are quite joyful.”
Each week their buffalo produce enough milk to make cheese for a growing number of high-end restaurants, and specialty cheese shops in Auckland and Wellington.
And while their cheeses are proving popular they have also built up a steady clientele who buy their buffalo milk.
“Demand is exceeding supply” says Pam Wills, who each week delivers buffalo milk to foodie stores around Auckland. “Buffalo milk has some great qualities. It’s low in cholesterol, high in calcium and high in the good fats. What more can I say?” laughs Pam, “Bathe in it!”
Phil, Annie and Pam and Chris all have set responsibilities in the business. Phil is in charge of the milking, Chris feeds and handles the new-born buffalo, and Annie and Pam make cheese twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“Mum and I come up with the ideas and it’s up to the men to make them work. We all live and work together” says Annie. “Mum and Dad, now in their 70s, wanted to come along for the ride.”
“Respect is often demanded, not always forthcoming!” says Annie’s Mum Pam Wills. “This old fashion extended family business works for us, we love seeing the boys grow up and contribute to a growing business. It’s a lot of fun.”
Join the water buffalo of Whangaripo Valley and their owners on Hyundai Country Calendar, Sunday, 7pm on TVNZ1.
For More information about Whangaripo Valley Buffalo Cheese Company
Whangaripo Valley Buffalo Cheese Company on Facebook:
Whangaripo Valley Buffalo Cheese Company on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whangaripobuffalocheese/
To find out more about Water Buffalo in New Zealand
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