NT DPIF Minister gifts four buffalo bulls to Indonesian Government artificial insemination centres

Barry Lemcke, Principal Livestock Management Officer, Darwin

In December 2015, four purebred riverine buffalo bulls from Beatrice Hill Research Farm were shipped to the Lembang artificial insemination (AI) centre to the east of Jakarta, courtesy of the Northern Territory Live Exporters Association and the North Australian Cattle Company. They arrived in Jakarta on on the MV Bison Express on 14 December.

It was the culmination of more than 12 months of preparation for six bulls before the final import permits were available and four were selected to depart for Indonesia.

I was able to inspect the quarantine yard facilities two days in advance to make sure that their arrival was fully planned. Some modifications were necessary for unloading and security. Their off-loading at 2am in Lembang went very smoothly after a four hour 150km journey which luckily dodged the peak hour traffic congestion.

The bulls weren’t in great condition on arrival as they hadn’t put on any weight in quarantine in the export yards in Darwin following a prolonged Dry Season. They also didn’t eat much of their boat ration on the four day journey to Indonesia.

The green chop corn and concentrate offered on arrival was hardly eaten overnight. As the quarantine yard was surrounded with a magnificent crop of Napier (elephant) grass, stalks were chopped and offered to the bulls. All bulls ravishingly accepted the offering. This feed was continued for the next few days, with the green-chop and concentrate introduced slowly, once they were fully adapted to their new surroundings.

One of the four Darwin Riverine buffalo bulls sent to the Lembang Al centreRiverine buffalo feeding on Napier grass in the quarantine yardThe MV Bison Express arriving in Jakarta, Indonesia 

A visit to the Lembang AI centre to see the 196 animals housed there was enough to realise that they would be well looked after. All bulls there were in excellent condition. The facility also catered for goats and sheep. The four buffalo bulls already in residence were a Riverine (Murrah) and three Swamp buffalo.

The AI straw processing equipment was modern and efficient at processing large quantities of straws and plenty of liquid nitrogen storage space was available. The cost of straws was also reasonable to local farmers in comparison to Australian standards.

The Lembang area is quite elevated so the climate was mild and pleasant in comparison with Jakarta or Darwin. The final destination for 2 of the bulls is the Singosari AI Centre in the far eastern end of the island of Java. Lembang is on the western end of Java.

The reason for the gifting was to demonstrate the impact that Riverine buffalo might play in the self-sufficiency aspirations of the Indonesian Government, for both their meat and dairy industries.  Because the bulk of Indonesian buffalo are the Swamp type, there would be great scope for increasing productivity of their herds by crossbreeding the Riverine with their Swamp animals to gain the 40% production advantage that we gained in the NT from the introduction of Riverine buffalo during 1994-97. Once this has been demonstrated, it will be expected to stimulate the export to Indonesia of more buffalo breeding stock from the NT.

Last updated: 24 June 2016