Ireland’s first mart sale of buffaloes has attracted huge interest with more than 2,000 farmers expressing an interest in bidding on them.
The eight buffalo calves will be sold in five lots at Thurles mart with 40 people on site and others watching online.
"It's gone bananas. It's completely crazy," said Jamie Nolan of the online MartEye app which will be broadcasting the sale live.
“We have had up to 300,000 engagements online, 600 people have expressed an interest in bidding, and we have 1,200 members interested.”
Mr Nolan had expected the animals to sell for between €700 and €900, but now he is expecting to make between €1,000 and €1,300.
The buffaloes are being sold by Johnny Lynch who has been farming them since October 2009. His was the first milking herd of buffaloes in Ireland.
He now has a herd of more than 500 animals on his 150-acre farm based in Cill na Martra near Macroom in Co Cork, and the animals are thriving in the Irish environment.
He produces buffalo mozzarella cheese from fresh milk and a halloumi style cheese with the excess.
The farm output is growing by between 20 and 30 per cent a year, and he is struggling to keep up with demand.
“We are still short and that brings its own headaches. We are producing over three tonnes of cheese every week. If you told me I would be doing that five years ago, I would have had a fit of laughing,” he said.
He is putting up four bull calves, aged five to eight months, and four bullocks, around 10 months, for sale in Thurles mart.
“There is fierce interest,” he says. The problem, though, is that the sale is unprecedented so there is no telling how much the animals will fetch.
“I have no idea at all. I don’t know what kind of person will be interested. Put it this way, I’d be very surprised if they are coming home,” he said.
Mr Lynch said it was a leap of faith that brought him to buffaloes. “It’s been a learning curve from the word go. The day you think you are not learning is the day you perish. It’s been a very interesting, exciting experience.”
The old film westerns have a lot to answer for with their depictions of menacing herds of bison thundering across the plains trailing clouds of dust.
The reality is different, Mr Lynch says. “They are more like a dog than a cow. You call them and they come to you. They would make great pets. We have a few open farms that take two animals each. They love being on an open farm.”
Mr Lynch does not dehorn them as horns are vital to regulate the animals’ body temperatures. Otherwise they would end up scratching their heads off trees injuring both themselves and the trees.
Buffalos are more commonly found in Asia in wet climates so the soft rain of Ireland is to their liking. "The weather suits them here. The climate is right," he said.
Mr Lynch noted, however, the animals like to wallow in mud like a pig when the conditions are right so a herd is not suitable for heavy ground.
“I was always saying that if we got 10 years out of it without any competition . . . . I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing”.