THE first buffalo farm on Orkney has taken delivery of 20 more animals as it bids to have its first meat available to buy before Christmas.

The calves were transported from north Wales to Aberdeen before going via a freight ferry to their new home at Schoolhouse Farm in the Deerness area of the island.

Former transport consultant Naomi Bremner runs the Orkney Buffalo business with her cattle farmer husband Russell.

She confirmed the investment in buffalo ran into several thousand pounds and took the herd numbers on the island to 47.

The new additions are all expected to be ready to slaughter over the next six weeks with the farmers working with Orkney butcher ER & T Craigie to make its first range of meat cuts - likely to include steaks and burgers - available in November.

Mrs Bremner said: "We have taken on an additional 20 one to two-year-old buffalo.

"The plan is we will have something on the shelves in late November prior to the Christmas shopping period to give something a bit different to try."

The groundwork for additional investment next year to move into cheese making and meat curing is also being done at the moment. Mrs Bremner said: "We are looking towards phase two of the business and some of the processing we are looking to do.

"We are doing investigation into curing some of the meat and also making some cheese from milk as well.

"You get an even fat distribution through the meat so I think it will lend itself to those curing processes."

The construction of meat processing and cheese making facilities is likely to be done on the 57-and-a-half acre farm.

Mrs Bremner said the company had received interest from around Scotland since launching this summer.

The business is also looking into creating an online shop with a focus on cured meat.

She added: "We have contacted by lots of individuals from around Scotland interested in when we will have stock to buy.

"We are taking delight in watching [the buffalo] roam around the field and we continue to get people popping by, from Orkney and other places, to see these animals.

"We are very much looking forward to getting to the next stage and having something to supply to people."

The Bremners were backed by Royal Bank of Scotland in their venture.

Margaret Keenan, senior relationship manager in the RBS Orkney office, helped the couple secure a loan as part of the bank's participation in the Government's Funding for Lending Scheme.

Ms Keenan said: "Russell and Naomi are taking on an exciting new venture and bringing something a little different to Orkney. I'm looking forward to seeing the farm develop."

Four buffalo on the island are pregnant while two calves have already been born.

Buffalo meat is said to be less fatty than standard beef and have a higher Omega 3 fatty acid content.

Mr Bremner said: "The meat is similar to beef, the buffalo grow slowly, which improves the flavour and nutritional value of the meat."