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Dairy Farming in Israel
Sprecher Jehuda
Dairy and beef herds in Israel account for about 16.5 % of Israel`s total agricultural production, 11.6 % of it milk and dairy products and 4.9 % beef products. This sector supplies the country`s total dairy requirements, with production potential reaching far beyond domestic needs. Production is regulated by a strict policy of planning and quotas.

Israel`s dairy industry faced the challenge of meeting the demands of a country whose population increased 10-fold in a relatively short period of time. Average milk production / yield per cow has increased about three times since the 1950s from 3.900 litres annualy to almost 11.000 kg. per dairy cow.

The total dairy herd in Israel has about 110.000 cows, out of which some 95.000 cows are registered in the Israel herd book.
Dairy farming in Israel is subject to production quotas. The quotas are set by the Israel Dairy Board ( Production and Marketing) and prices have been controlled untill recently by the government.

According to law, no dairy farm may produce and or market unprocessed milk. This process helps to balance supply and demand in the sector while allowing for continued growth and reasonable profitability.

Every three month, a target price is calculated based on the changing inputs / outputs of the milk production on the national level.
There are two farming systems in Israel:
The Kibbutz ( collective farms ), averaging 350 cows per herd ( 200 - 600 ), where the cows are milked three times daily. There are about 215 Kibbutz herds.

The Moshav ( family herds in co operative settlements ), averaging 60 cows/herd ( 20 - 150 ), where the cows are milked twice daily. There are about 680 Moshav type herds in the Herdbook and 750 smaller non-registered dairy farms.
Map of the Dairy Industry in Israel
In Israel there is only one dairy breed, the Israeli Holstein, which was developed from the early thirties on by out crossing local & Damascus cows with Friesien bulls and later with Holsteins.

Today, the last trace of the Damascus cow has disappeared and after 60 years of breeding in a hot climate, the Israeli Holstein cows have adapted to the hot climate.

In Israel, for more than four decades now, 100 % of the dairy population, cows and heifers, have been bred exclusively by artificial insemination, carried out by two A.I. Centers, which operate a common national breeding program and ET unit .

Breeding takes into account the milk-yield and the improvement of the protein & fat composition. This data undergoes statistical analysis which results in the selection of desirable traits. These traits are then cross-bred to produce superior offspring.
Breeding Program
Israel has almost no grazing land and therefore most of the herd`s nutrition is based on a concentrated total mixed feed mix ration ( T.M.R.). The feed is generally prepared in a central regional station serving all the herds in the area, rather than prepared separately by each herd-owner.

Israel`s dairy herds utilize computerized feeding systems to determine the correct balance for a milk-yielding or dry cow during the gestation period, or to develop a suitable diet for young calves. The feed ration is calculated for optimal nutrition and economic efficiency.

In order to facilitate feeding, a special mobile unit ( unifeed wagon) has been developed which mixes feed and distributes it among the dairy farms. The on-board computer control the whole process and data is transmitted to the central computer.
Feeding Dairy Cows in Israel
Israel`s dairy industry employs domestically developed advanced technologies - technologies that have changed the industry through automation, bringing it under strict quality control. This eases the burden on human resources and ensures operations that meet prescribed standards and that reach high profitability.

Milking systems include recording of milk yield, duration of milking, detection of udder infections, etc., whereas the pedometers record data regarding the esterus cycle of the cow.
Milk processing
After milking, the milk is normally directly cooled on the farm and / or at the collecting station, soon after the milking process is finished. Transportation is in insulated tankers and at the dairies the milk undergoes another taste and quality tests.

Then it continues through the pasteurization process, after which it can be processed into consumption milk, butter, yogourt , cheeses or many other dairy products through totally automated systems.

Israel`s huge range of dairy products includes some 800 different types of dairy products and / or milk derived products.
The Israel Herd Book is a computerized data bank allowing its users to trace genealogy, milk yield and quality of each cow, as well its production history, fertility, state of health, and any other useful data for maintaining / developing the standards of the dairy industry

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