Mathew Thomas, pursuing his graduate studies, runs a farm with Murrah buffaloes in Kothamangalam in the Ernakulam district
At 23, Mathew Thomas is the proud owner of a farm. In Oonukal, near Kothamangalam in Ernakulam district, Mathew runs the Malayil Murrah farm, where he breeds Murrah buffaloes. A postgraduate biotechnology student at Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam, Mathew came up with the idea during the pandemic.
“When the courses went online last year, I had a lot of free time. I was getting restless and wanted to do something to occupy myself, ”he said over the phone. It was then that his father’s friend suggested a bison farm. “I decided to give him a chance. I watched several videos and collected as much information as possible, especially on the Murrah buffaloes,” he says.
Murrah buffaloes, considered to be one of the most milk-producing breeds of Indian buffalo, originate mainly from the states of Punjab and Haryana. “They grow faster than the breeds found in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. For example, if other breeds reach 200-220 kilograms in a year, the Murrah will gain double the weight in the same period. The food is the same as what we give to other buffaloes, ”says Mathew.
Although his original plan was to buy one, he decided to make it a bigger deal once his father showed interest as well. “So we bought 32 buffaloes, all male calves, from Haryana a few months ago when the lockdown restrictions were relaxed. We planned it on a large scale because we had enough land for it, ”says Mathew. The farm spans three acres and on another 2.5 acres they grow grass (Super Napier variety) to feed the animals. He also bought a machine to cut the grass.
The family already owns a poultry farm, where they have 20,000 chickens. “We grow pineapples and parts of the plant are also sliced and fed to the buffaloes,” says Mathew.
The farm now has 20 calves, all under one year old, weighing 120 to 150 kilograms. The plan is to sell them.
He points out that it took him almost two weeks to get used to managing the farm. “Since we had 32, it was not easy. But now I have a schedule. I spend almost four hours on the farm in the morning, cleaning the shed, washing the buffaloes, feeding them and taking care of other things. I take care of the calves for an hour at night, ”he says.
He installed a misting system in the shed to sprinkle water on the buffaloes when it is hot. A pond has also been created to allow the animals to cool off. The manure-urine slurry is used as a fertilizer for the grass.
Mathew says he hopes to run the farm while continuing his education.