Buffalo meat range launched in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s only buffalo producer, Ballyriff Farm in Co Derry, has launched a range of buffalo meats. 

The products, which include steaks, burgers and sausages, are produced from a 40-strong buffalo herd by farm owner Michael O’Brien, O’Brien gave up beef farming to develop niche products and improve the prospects of his family farm and is now one of just two buffalo producers on the island.

“Price volatility has meant that making any sort of decent margin on beef is very difficult,” said O’Brien. “I had heard about buffalo and decided to find out more for myself. This eventually led me to buy some animals from Italy.”

He said that buffalo meat has been described as old traditional meat because of its distinctively meaty flavour, slightly sweeter than cow beef. However, buffalo contains half the fat of ordinary meat and between 40-60 percent lower in cholesterol. It also has twice as much calcium and protein as beef, he said.

He added that buffalo does not eat any processed meal and has a natural diet of grass and silage. “The buffalo is a naturally robust animal that does not require any veterinary intervention so is completely drug-free. No BSE [bovine spongiform encephalopathy] has been recorded in buffalo.”

The herd is raised on the 30-acre family farm, with the finished product being dry-aged for at least 28 days.

Looking to the future, O’Brien is exploring opportunities to develop buffalo mozzarella cheese.

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