Mediterranean Water Buffalo are raised on this farm in Wellington, Western Cape, to provide the milk to make authentic buffalo mozzarella. Wayne and Michelle Rademeyer are the farmers behind this venture, and base their farming methods on biodynamic principles.
Website www.buffalomozzarella.co.za Mobile 082 375 0977 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Farming in a way that makes sense - and has a conscience
“We put the health of the animals first – they’re our most important asset.” This is exactly what you’d want to hear from a livestock farmer, and it’s certainly a no-brainer to Wayne Rademeyer. He’s only been farming since 2006 - after he and his wife Michelle decided to leave the rat-race lifestyle of professional law in Johannesburg and seek out a simpler existence for their family in the Cape – but he’s learning to do it in a way that makes sense to him and upholds his beliefs.
From biodegradable sanitizers to organic fertilizers and additive-free diets for his water buffalo, Wayne is keeping it as natural as possible. He believes that a farm should be a self-sustaining unit; the only external input is the dry fodder which he can’t grow himself. Nothing is seen as waste and everything is reused and recycled onsite. He’s moving towards using biodynamic principles that make practical sense to him, and is even keeping aside a wilderness area which attracts an abundance of wildlife, including majestic fish eagles.
Living the dream
On the rainy Saturday we visited Buffalo Ridge Farm, the water buffalo (not at all the same as the aggressive Cape Buffalo) were in their element. “They just love the rain”, Wayne said, smiling affectionately at his now 80-strong herd. Almost five years ago, 21 cows and three bulls (Valentino, Don Juan and Casanova) arrived at Cape Town International Airport. Wayne had spent months searching across the globe for the right animals – healthy, prime specimens that he finally found on a farm in Australia. A year and a half later, he sold his first buffalo mozzarella cheese – one of a kind in South Africa. “This is how my dream became a reality”, he says.
The dream was conceived after Wayne and Michelle fell in love with caprese salads in Italy, only to be disappointed time after time by the South African equivalent. They noticed a gap in the market and went for it. Wayne now splits his time between looking after the animals and making the cheese.
Products with a difference
The milk is very seasonal and summer is the busy time, shortly after calving when the milk is creamiest. The cows are milked only once daily (rather than twice as on commercial farms). This means Wayne loses 10% of the potential milk take, but the milk is far better quality because of it. They treat the milk with the utmost care, choosing to gravity feed it into tanks, rather than pumping it, to avoid the risk of breaking up the fats. In addition to cheese, yoghurt and fromage blanc is also made.
About 50% of the herd are bulls – this becomes a problem when the bulls hit two years of age and start fighting amongst themselves. To keep things under control, Wayne has started slaughtering some of the young bulls and the meat is being snapped up by some well-known restaurants around Cape Town. Buffalo meat is similar to beef, but with a higher flavour profile. The shorter muscle fibres mean that it is more tender despite having less marbling (fat content) than beef.
A future-fit farm
Looking forward, Wayne wants to grow the water buffalo industry here in South Africa. Key considerations in this endeavour are keeping it ethical and keeping the quality standards high. As for his own farm, the same goes. He’s keeping the animals happy, the land healthy and the products heavenly. “I have to”, Wayne says, “I am growing the farm for my kids”.
[Buffalo Ridge will also be supplying Water Buffalo milk, a creamy lactose-free milk option, to the public when volumes have increased.]
Chilling in the rain at Buffalo Ridge farm, near Wellington. This is the only Water Buffalo farm in South Africa. They make authentic buffalo mozzarella.
Buffalo calves. Buffalo live between 15 and 18 years and weigh up to 750 kilograms.
These Water Buffalo are the riverine species and hark from the Mediterranean. The swamp species are smaller and are found mainly in south-east Asia.
Water Buffalo are very different from the Cape Buffalo. They are gentle natured; however, the young males can become territorial and aggressive towards each other.
Deli's & retailers
- Giovanni’s Deliworld - Greenpoint Cape Town
- Melissa’s Delis - Tamboerskloof, Blouberg, V&A Waterfront, Constantia, Stellenbosch & Newlands
- Wellness Warehouse - Tamboerskloof & Cavendish Centre, Claremont
- Saucisse Deli - The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock
- Bon Fromage - Newlands
- Jason Bakery - Cape Town CBD
- Raith Gourmet - Gardens
- De Oude Bank Bakkerij - Stellenbosch
- Lemon & Lime - Pringle Bay
- Deli Factory - Plettenberg Bay
- Fruit & Veg City - Knysna
- Neighbourgoods Market (The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock) from the latter part of September 2011 (Saturday mornings)
- Haricots - Grahamstown
- Cheese Gourmet - Linden, JHB
- La Marina - Modderfontein JHB
- Tracey’s Deli - Durban
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