The camel milk of hu­man kind­ness

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - TIM HAMER

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.

Pic­tures: Peter Lorimer

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...

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