The Israeli Dairy Industry
Did you know that Israeli cows have the highest milk production in the world? In 2016, the average milk yield per Israeli cow was 11,970 kg, according to the Israeli Dairy Board, more than what cows are producing anywhere else in the world. This is all in spite of Israel’s unfavorable conditions including heat, humidity, and restricted resources. This remarkable accomplishment is the result of decades of hard work in the Israeli Dairy Industry. Careful breeding, intelligent farm management, and advanced technologies have all contributed to making Israeli’s dairy industry the best in the world.
Dairy Farming in Israel
The statistics on Israeli dairy farming paint an impressive figure. Throughout Israel, there are 775 dairy farms. These farms produce enough milk to fulfill about 80% of the domestic demand for milk and other dairy products. In 2016, for example, Israeli dairy farms produced approximately 1,450 million liters of cow milk with a value of about $2.5 billion. Israeli dairy farmers are also creative. Using cow milk, they have created over 1000 different dairy products. Milk is, of course, the most popular dairy product, but farmers also produce and sell fermented milk and desserts, soft cheese, hard cheese, butter, and more.
Sheep and Goat Farming
Cow farms are not the only kind of farms within the Israeli dairy industry. Sheep and goat farms, although they make up a smaller percentage, also make a significant contribution to Israel’s dairy industry. Around Israel, more than 2,400 families raise groups of sheep and goats. In 2016, Israeli farmers produced about 14.2 million liters of goat milk and 9.7 million liters of sheep milk. Israel has developed its own breed of sheep, the Awassi, which is especially productive, creating an average of 550 liters of milk every year. Sheep and goat milk is used to create soft cheese, hard cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products, all of which are popular in Israel.
Impressive Growth in Production
One of the reasons that the Israeli dairy industry is so successful is the advancement in dairy production over the past 50 years. In the 1950s, milk production was at about 4,000 kg of milk annually. Today, Israeli dairy farms produce over 12,000 kg in a year. This is not because the number of dairy farms has grown, but because each dairy farm has become more productive. In fact, since 2007, the number of dairy farms has fallen from about 1,100 to 774, and the annual production per farm has risen from about 1.180 million liters to 1.45 million liters. This is incredibly impressive growth. Israel’s farms produce the highest milk yield per cow, in part because they have carefully bred their own kind of cow, the Israeli-Holstein breed, which is specially adapted to the Israeli habitat.
*Photo sources The Israeli Dairy Board
Advancements in Technology
Israeli farms also owe their success to impressive technological advancements. Farmers use detailed feed analysis to ensure that their cows are receiving precisely the right nutrients to optimize their health and milk production. Farmers use sophisticated farm management techniques to make the most efficient use of resources and to keep their herds healthy and comfortable. Combating the hot seasons, Israeli farmers have mastered the use of farm cooling systems to keep their cows at healthy temperatures all year long. On an Israeli dairy farm, you’ll find some of the most advanced farming technology in the world, designed to consistently ensure high quality.
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The Israel Dairy Board, “Facts and Figures,” 2016.