The camel milk of human kindness
IT sounds like an ancient proverb: “A camel is not a cow.”
But Russell Osborne is explaining one of the many humps which confront farmers who believe camel milk will be their cash cow because of Australia’s growing population of people from the Middle East and the subcontinent.
“There’s been a lot of people who might have been dairy cow farmers previously — and this has happened a lot — and they’ve gone ahead and bought a herd of camels thinking they’re going to bag a million bucks,” the leading camel advocate in Australia said.
“But a camel is not a cow, and there are a lot of camels sitting around a paddock at the moment.”
That’s because milking a camel is not like milking cows.
“It’s literally one camel at a time because there’s no other way allowing for the camel to feel that relaxed during the milking process,” Mr Osborne, from Gippsland in Victoria, said.
“Until we get some decent size farms up and running ... so there is a constant supply of milk, then we are not going to see it just yet in the mainstream.”
For Michelle Phillips, Muslims are already her biggest domestic market for the milk from the 70 camels on her farm at Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley.
The 43-year-old animal lover has been a camel dairy farmer for five years, after she rescued seven on their way to an abattoir in South Australia; intercepting the truck and taking as many as she could fit on her own.
Her camels are also used for sunset rides at the farm. Michelle is just happy that
she can save as many camels as she can from being destroyed.
Her camel dairy was inspired by shows on TV and newspaper stories and the medicinal qualities of camel milk: low in fat, suitable for lactose intolerant drinkers, as well as helping to regulate sugars in type 2 diabetics.
Training the camels didn’t take long, and she
credits that to their inherent nature. “They’re a very highly intelligent animal, it’s been said that they have the IQ of a six-year-old child,” she said.
“Sometimes that works for you and sometimes that works against you.”
Ms Phillips has exported to New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and Fiji and her camel milk business is “growing gradually and I’m growing along with it”.
Along the way she hopes to change prejudices to the animals she calls gentle creatures.
The camels rescued by Michelle Phillips provide milk and give rides for tourists. Michelle’s herd of camels at her Muswellbrook property started at seven and is now 70-strong. Michelle brings in twtwo camels for milking. ed one at a time. Camels can...