Wed, Mar 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Farmer saves water buffalo to save tradition

By Yen Hung-chun and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Changhua County farmer Kao I-hsin on Sunday demonstrates how to judge the age of a buffalo by examining its teeth.

Photo: Yen Hung-chun, Taipei Times

A Changhua farmer who said on social media that he wanted to buy a water buffalo that was scheduled for slaughter, but did not have the money, received help from a farming organization.

Farmer Kao I-hsin (高一鑫) heard about the unwanted water buffalo in Yunlin County that was going to be slaughtered, but did not have NT$90,000 to buy the animal.

The Taiwan Ox Culture Association saw Kao’s post and purchased the buffalo for him to work on his farm.

Kao said the buffalo, who is about six or seven years old, is the ideal age for farm work.

The original owner told Kao that the buffalo was “well trained, docile and strong,” adding that he regretted having to sell the animal, but he was too old to care for it.

Water buffaloes eat about 50kg to 60kg of food per day.

The original owner hoped to get rid of the animal as quickly as possible, Kao said, adding that he sold it to an ox trader in Yunlin’s Tuku Township (土庫).

The trader, who was unable to find a buyer, was preparing to sell the buffalo to a butcher who would slaughter it for meat, Kao said.

Kao said he feels very fortunate that the association, which was established two years ago in Hsinchu’s Sinpu Township (新埔) to help farmers who work with oxen, helped him save the animal from slaughter.

Association director-general Lee Chun-hsin (李春信) said he hopes to promote the use of water buffaloes on farms and has opened a school to train farmers.

“Machines have largely replaced water buffaloes on farms,” Lee said. “The culture and knowledge about their use is being lost.”

Kao, a Providence University Department of Business Administration graduate, said the main reason water buffaloes are used less on farms is because they are so difficult to train.

“The number of older farmers who are skilled in steering oxen has also dwindled, making it difficult to find suitable trainers for new farmers,” he said.

Kao said he is promoting the use of water buffaloes in Changhua County and that he hopes this farming tradition will not disappear.

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