The Laos Buffalo Dairy: Sustainability in action

 The Laos Buffalo Dairy: Sustainability in action

Whatever image comes to mind when you think of Laos, a beautiful sparsely populated nation in Southeast Asia, delicious cheese probably isn’t one of them. Yet in 2014 when a mid-life crisis propelled Rachel O’Shea, Susie Martin and Steven McWhirter to leave their expat postings in Singapore and settle in beautiful Luang Prabang, cheese was definitely on their minds.

 Although buffalo milk is very nutritional—it’s actually higher in calcium and protein than regular cows’ milk and lower in cholesterol too—these cheese-loving aficionados soon realized that in this land chock full of buffalo, a dairy industry was non-existent.

Laos Buffalo Dairy: Artisan cheese comes to south-east Asia

Laos Buffalo Dairy: Artisan cheese comes to south-east Asia

Most people, when they are missing comfort food while travelling, arrange for care packages to be sent from home, or just suffer in silence. Not so Susie Martin and Rachel O'Shea – to satisfy their cravings for cheese, they started a dairy.

And not just any dairy, but a buffalo dairy. In Laos. All without any farming experience.

A crossbreed, you say?

A crossbreed, you say?

It’s official!!  We have our first crossbred buffalo at Laos Buffalo Dairy!

We are happy to announce that the Artificial Insemination breeding program that we did back in December 2016, with our esteemed Laos vet Dr. Som, was a success!  

On 2nd November, two of our team members escorted a buffalo and her crossbred baby in from Thinkeo Village.  The buffalos belong to Thinkeo Village Chief, Somlit, who is a very big supporter of Laos Buffalo Dairy, bringing us his buffalo and helping us with some of our building and crazy falang (foreigner) ideas.  

Veterinarian Specialist, AI and Babies Abound!

Veterinarian Specialist, AI and Babies Abound!

This has been very busy few weeks at Laos Buffalo Dairy.  Our international veterinarian specialist from Holland, Ronald van Giesson has been here helping us with all of the buffalo and procedures on the farm.  

But that isn’t all!  We were lucky enough to have a world-renowned buffalo specialist from Thailand, Dr. Ohm, come and visit us as well to help with an Artificial Insemination program for the buffalo

We are making burrara. Wait, what is burrata?

So... Rachel started making burrata and when she proudly told us we had no clue what that was.

But do not upset the chef, seems like she knows what she is doing. After a short google search we all were: aaaa, burata, sounds absolutely delicios! Now we can talk about it. Yes please, make some more.

What is burrata

You might still be asking. Basicaly mozzarella, but creamy and runny when you cut into it. The recipe goes something like this:

  • you take some of the curd before you stretch it
  • chop it up
  • mix it with cream
  • and make a pancake of more curd
  • put the chopped curd inside like a purse.

Everyone had to taste the delicious burrata and we all were really pleased with it. It's great for breakfast, in salads and milion other combinations. 

We drooled on this recipes and hope that our dear Rachel will test them all! 

And also, if you are in Luang Prabang on the 15th of July, we plan to participate in the market in the gardens at Sofitel. We will be selling what we have that night.

Have you ever try burrata before?

Laos Buffalo Dairy – Meet the Neighbours and Fact Finding tour!

Laos Buffalo Dairy – Meet the Neighbours and Fact Finding tour!

So what happens when you want to start a dairy but have very limited experience?  You try and find as many people as you can, to help you get off the ground!

We were extremely lucky to find a buffalo dairy just outside of Bangkok, Thailand with a wonderful owner by the name of Runchuan, who owns Murrah Buffalo Dairy, to take us around her farm and answer any and all questions that we had. Our trip was set up by Somsak, from Dairyinterline in Bangkok and he played tour guide and translator for us. This was actually Somsak’s first time meeting Runchuan as well.

Lights, camera, action

Lights, camera, action

The phone rings and Lathsavong, Dairy Manager announces that the government would like to come and visit the Dairy tomorrow.  In Laos there can be a fair amount of government bureaucracy to satisfy with any business let alone a new industry, so not quite understanding the harassed quality to Lathsavong voice I ask what time they’re due to arrive, thankfully it’s tomorrow afternoon. We have the career fair at the Northern College of Agriculture starting at 8 am tomorrow but if we leave at lunchtime we should be able to make it the 90 mins over to the farm in time for their arrival. So unconcerned am I, that Steven, the Dairy General Manager is having a well earnt day off the next day and asks if he should attend.  No, No that won’t be necessary!

Mobbed by the crowd

It all started innocently enough, a visit to the Northern Agriculture & Forestry College about 45 mins north of Luang Prabang to discuss partnering with the College for research & training purposes with their students. For an Agricultural College surely 200 buffalo being used for the 1 st dairy in Laos must be of interest!