Dairy Goat Farming: A lesson Kenyan Farmers can learn from Israel
When it comes to automated animal-milking, Israel is considered a world-leader. For decades, Israeli innovators have continuously developed advanced techniques to maintain dairy farms and milking efficiently. It is no surprise then that when a Canadian goat farm needed to enhance productivity – they turned to Israeli technology.
Since the Bible time, goats in Israel were very common and moved from one area to another during the year and were a common source of milk, meat, and fabrics. Large flock of sheep and goats was a sign of wealth.
Today the goat dairy industry in Israel is a dynamic and successful component to the agricultural aspect of the country. Standards are high and strictly adhered to, and the ever-increasing rise in the demand for goats’ milk is consistently being met by Israel’s small ruminant farmers.
Technological developments as well as market trends demand a constantly evolving goat milk industry, and Israel stays ahead of the curve to remain a global competitor in the market.
In Israel, 11.1 million liters of goats’ milk are produced annually. There are over 2,400 families raising small ruminants, the term used for sheep and goats. There are approximately 520,000 sheep and goats in the country, and the number is ever-growing. These farms usually produce anywhere between 50,000 to 200,000 liters of goats’ milk yearly. Thirty of these farms are “closed farms”, which process their own milk, whether it is organically or conventionally, and combine their efforts to incorporate agro-tourism components into their farming.
Goat farmers in Israel take different approaches to raising their animals to ensure the highest quality of dairy products. Extensive farming methods are used by the Bedouin farmers in the southern part of Israel. They raise their herds traditionally and nomadically, accounting for about 20,000 goats. Intensive goat farmers institute a zero-grazing policy, monitoring every aspect of the goats’ diets. There are approximately 30,000 goats being raised in an intensive style. A combination of the two is referred to as semi-intensive. This takes place mostly in the northern part of the country and accounts for an estimated 40,000 goats.
Technological advancements have increased the efficiency of the goat farming industry, especially regarding the intensive farmers. Milking facilities have been significantly improved over recent years, and computerized data recording has contributed to further development of the market and farm management.
Total Mixed Ration (TMR) is used by intensive farmers. This is when the farmers use supplemental feeding in replace of grazing, and they outsource the food production to a large feed center. These rations are delivered fresh daily or packaged bi-weekly.
The goat farming industry in Israel is a very competitive and high quality one. The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture attempts to improve the quality of milk production and farmers must adhere to hygienic standards. Trends are leading farmers away from conventional methods and more towards organic and agro-tourism farming techniques.
The Israeli Dairy Board has established several requirements when it comes to the contents of goats’ milk. On average, the fat content is 3.76% and protein content is 3.37%, well within the set boundaries.
The Israeli Dairy School holds short tailor-made seminars and professional training based on years of proven experience.