Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Camel milk production

Camel milk production


Camel milk production in the Kalahari

The only camel milk dairy in South Africa is run by Hans Knoessen, who farms in the remote district of Askham in the Kalahari. In an effort to add value to the family’s livestock production business on the farm Koppieskraal, about 250km north-west of Upington, Knoessen decided to start utilizing free-roaming camels in 2015.

“It was very dry in our area at the time [… and] that is when we came up with the idea to milk the camels and sell the milk,” he said. The endeavor called for much research, and Knoessen also had to find a market for the milk. He started by selling the milk to the Somali community in the Western Cape, and members of the Muslim community there are still his main customers.

The fresh milk is bottled and frozen on the farm, and transported once a week to Upington, from where it is sent to Cape Town, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Camel milk earmarked for the manufacture of milk powder is frozen in bulk containers on the farm and then transported to Somerset West for processing. It is pasteurized and then spray-dried, with the milk powder containing only 3% moisture, making it easy to mix with water.

“At this stage, I can hardly claim that the camel milk dairy mitigated the effects of the drought at all, as the business is still in its infancy. But I’m positive about the future, as the benefits of this unique product become better known locally. My research has shown, for example, that camel milk is beneficial as an antioxidant in the treatment of [people with] autism spectrum disorder,” Knoessen said.

The average temperatures on Koppieskraal range from below freezing in winter to well above 40°C in summer, with an average annual rainfall of 125mm. The camel dairy herd is kept in camps of between 150ha /and 200ha, each consisting of more than 50 plant species for the camels to graze and browse on.

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