Water buffalo cheese is the latest in artisinal dairy
Two years ago, Martin Littkemann and Lori Smith were tired of milking cows, so the couple purchased 40 young water buffalo for their farm north of Trenton. Since then, the herd has grown to over 100, and they’ve launched Ontario Water Buffalo Co. The milk is sold to Vaughan’s Quality Cheese, where it’s turned into small-batch cheese and sold at Pusateri’s, Whole Foods and select Loblaws and Longo’s. It’s also been served at Pizzeria Libretto, Terroni and Buca.
But the couple has bigger plans. “We’re not trying to start a niche market,” Littkemann told the Star. “We’re trying to start an industry.” And to start the industry, they are lobbying for Ontario to add water buffalo to the Milk Act, so it can be better regulated, just as cow and goat milk is.
These regulations are important because the skills and techniques required to woo milk from a buffalo are much different from those used on a cow. “These are almost like milking a horse. You know how a horse can be temperamental? Treat them calmly,” says Littkemann. “Call them by their names. They know their names.” Apparently, buffalo also have sophisticated music tastes and enjoy being milked to Classic Hits 95.5; cows prefer country music.