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Israeli Cows Producing Twice as much Milk as Australian Cows
June 24, 2015

How can a country as hot and dry as Israel can have the most productive dairy cows in the world?

The average cow in Israel produces 12,000 litres of milk a year, double what Australian dairy cows produce, at 5,500 litres a year (Dairy Australia 2014).

It could provide useful lessons for Australia, with our similar climate.

“The Israeli dairy industry is cutting edge technology for dairying,” said Dr Ephraim Maltz, of the Institute of Agricultural Engineering at Israel’s Volcani Centre.

Israel has pushed the boundaries of what dairy cows can do.

Mostly, the drive to greater productivity is through precise sensors to understand the physiology of the cow.

Every step you take

One of those pieces of technology is the simple pedometer, fashionable for people getting fit.

In dairy cows, it can show when they are ready for joining.

“The first oestrus detector is based on pedometry,” said Dr Ephraim Maltz, the Israeli dairy industry’s top scientist.

“The cow in oestrus is demonstrating higher activity.

“Before she is ready to mate, she is more active.

“So the farmer can know she’s on heat, and can order the service.”

Dr Maltz said a brand new piece of technology measured milk composition even before the cow left the milking barn.

“That measures online for every cow, fat, protein and lactose as a measurement of milk quality,” he said.

A criticism of producing that amount of milk is what it is doing to the animal’s welfare.

“By and large the Israeli cow is a happy creature. Happy cow, happy farmer,” said Dr Maltz.

But the techology also takes objective measurements.

“Absolutely, several sensors, detect the cow lying down, the distance she is walking, and we have excellent sensors in the milking parlour measuring the interaction with the dairy farmer,” Dr Maltz said.

“Human behaviour can be measured, in how long it takes for milk let down and the time milking takes, all these are measures individually.”

Joining cows when energy levels rise

To reach 12,000 litres of milk a year, double the Australian average for each cow, requires getting the cow in calf just at the right time.

Dr Maltz said that too could be measured, because when a cow calved, she was losing energy, entering “negative energy balance”.

“Once the cow calves, she loses condition and the bigger part of the milk is produced off the back of the cow, she is in negative energy balance,” he said.

“Once she is getting to peak production, and her body weight is increasing, she has a bigger chance to get pregnant.”

Israel, like Australia, is hot for a lot of the year, but Israel family farmers and kibbutz co-ops keep their cows cool.

“The cows during the summer are not exposed to direct solar radiation. We force cool the cows before every milking,” Dr Maltz said.

“This released somehow the heat stress, and milk production can be maintained during summer.”

As an indication of how the world is watching Israel’s dairy progress, China’s huge Bright Foods bought Israel’s largest dairy company for over a billion dollars this year.

The Israeli dairy industry uses desalinated water, and dairy waste is equivalent to that of six million people.

Source – ABC Rural



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