A preliminary study of the behaviour of water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) imported to Poland (Short Communication)
Abstract. This study was carried out on 26 adult water (river) buffaloes (25 females and 1 male) imported in 2006 to an eco-tourism farm in the Wielkopolska province, Poland. During the growing season, animals were kept on a logged pasture covering an area of about 15 ha. The pasture was divided into three approximately equal parts, each with a different facility available for wallowing; i.e. pond, drainage ditch and stream. Behavioural observations were carried out three times in July and August 2007 in approximately 14-d intervals, each time during one day on a different part of the pasture, always between 06.00 and 16.00. The method of registration was instantaneous scan sampling, performed at approximately 60 min intervals. On the days of observations mean daily temperature varied from 20.2 to 20.8 °C. Grazing was the behaviour shown by the highest percentage of animals in the herd (58.6%), followed by rumination (28.2%), lying down (26.5%), wallowing (12.9%) and standing (1.4%). When they had access to a pond or ditch, the proportion of animals wallowing was twice as much compared to stream access (P<0.05). It was concluded that the welfare of the investigated buffaloes was not compromised during the high summer temperatures that can be encountered in Poland. Results also indicate that the highest level of welfare can be reached in this time of year when animals are provided with access to ample facility for wallowing. Under our climatic conditions facilities with still or slowly moving water appeared to be preferred by river buffaloes. However, this study has a limitation which is short period of observation, thus it is possible that a longer and more representative period of observations could change these conclusions.