x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dairy imports German and Dutch cows

Milk production has increased by Dh12,000 litres a day at Dubai's Al Rawabi Dairy Farm.

Cows wait in the holding area before being milked at Al Rawabi Dairy’s farm in Dubai.
Cows wait in the holding area before being milked at Al Rawabi Dairy’s farm in Dubai.

DUBAI // Huddled in the shade in a cool breeze, a dozen brown cows moo as Rami Hamad drives past in his 4x4.

"They're getting used to this new weather," said the manager of Al Rawabi Dairy's farm in Dubai.

The cows, 3,000 of them, had just been shipped from the Netherlands and Germany.

"The brown ones look like bulls. They're quite strong and have great genes," Mr Hamad said.

He has started milking 400 head from the new breeds, increasing the farm's milk production by 12,000 litres a day.

They include holstein, the world's best milkers, and simmental, which can weigh 1.5 tonnes in two years.

"I want to see how they will cope in Dubai," said Mr Hamad.

The holsteins produce more milk of better quality than the Australian stock the farm has.

"They produce five more litres a day, so around 30 litres a day," Mr Hamad said. "They're easier to handle because they're used to people and their milk is better."

He also imported three cross-bred simmental and holstein cows in the hope that they will milk better in summer, although it will be seven years before he knows for sure.

"If it works out, I will bring more," he added.

Finding the right animals took time. "It took a week to fill one plane of 165 cows," said Waleed Hasan, the farm's maintenance manager. "We usually look at their body condition, the milk production, their health, life history - and cows that aren't too fat."

And some of the animals face a sweaty few weeks, as not all of the farm's sheds have yet been fitted with new cooler systems.

"We ordered 600 coolers from the US but we only got half," said Mr Hamad.

The rest, he says, are being installed at a rate of 30 a week - enough for one shed housing about 1,000 cattle.

The farm has been expanding and renovating since October last year but the work is far from over. Two sheds will be built, and four new houses, adding to its current 14. One new shed for 1,000 new young stock should be ready in four months.

The end result should be 2,000 extra cows for a total of 14,000 cattle and an extra 78,000 litres a day by the end of the year.

"Every day we start milking 30 new cows," said Mr Hamad.

The extra milk is not the only thing that should soon be smelling sweet. The farm is using a new technique to make its manure less malodorous.

It has a new Dh20,000 cultivator that digs deeper in the ground - 50 centimetres instead of 15cm - letting more air into the soil.

"This kills the anaerobic bacteria because they are exposed to air, which they cannot survive," said Mr Hamad.

New curtains are being installed in the shed to block out the sun and heat, and Mr Hamad is testing a new way to cool his cows, lowering the fans by two metres over the animals.

"This means it will be colder and we can save energy," he said. "This will be done for all the new sheds next year."

The renovations will take two years to complete as old sheds need to be demolished to make way for the new ones.

"All this was needed to be able to increase our milk production," said Mr Hamad. "And we need to do everything we can to help meet the local demand for milk."

cmalek@thenational.ae