Pet Treats Grow Market for Water Buffalos

Water buffalo byproduct dog treats help sustainable farms


More than 200 million domesticated water buffalo live around the world. Most of them live in Asia, where the animals were domesticated (twice actually, into swamp and river varieties). The animals provide milk, meat, leather and labor. Just as with cattle and other livestock familiar to U.S. farmers, butchering the animals results in byproducts that humans can’t or prefer not to eat. Those buffalo byproducts, such as horns, lungs and udders, can serve as novel ingredients for dog treats and chews with social benefits and lower environmental impact than other protein sources.

“We’ve tried to use all the high value organs and meat parts of the body that have a lot of high value, high protein, a lot of minerals and healthy solutions,” Andrew Horne, director of sales for Honey I’m Home, a dog chew and treat company specializing in honey-coated water buffalo products. “Our manufacturing partners in India is a global leader in water buffalo meat distribution. They supply the human supply chain with humane animal products, and we are partnered with them to create an innovative treat line off of that supply chain.”

Water buffalo byproduct sustainability

By creating a market for otherwise discarded parts of the buffalo, the pet food market increases the value of the livestock to farmers. Most water buffalo live on small-scale farms that may use fewer resources and produce less pollution than intensive livestock production. By increasing incomes for these low-impact farmers, water buffalo by-products have social and environmental sustainability benefits. A literature review published by Frontiers in Environmental Science explored the sustainability of domesticated water buffalo. The researchers found that water buffalo are efficient converters of low quality forage and crop residues into high quality milk and meat.

Along with this, the water buffalo used by Honey I’m Home are raised free-range on grass and wild forage by independent farmers. The animals are then slaughtered according to halal standards, a method defined in Islamic scripture.

Novel pet food protein sources

Novel proteins in dog and cat food, like water buffalo, can help pet owners find food and treats for animals with allergies. Along with this some novel protein sources require fewer resources to produce than conventional meats, which allows pet food brands to make sustainability claims. As their name implies, another benefit of novel proteins is their unusualness. However, especially during the pandemic, securing stable supplies of nontraditional meats and byproducts may require more effort than buying beef, chicken or pork.