Friday, November 25, 2016

Dandaragan Camels

Salty skim milk: WA's first pasteurised camel's milk hits the market


By Laura Gartry
Updated 
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From coconut to lactose-free, almond to rice, consumers are faced with a growing array of choices when it comes to milk.

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Now after years in development, pasteurised camel's milk from Western Australia's first commercial size camel dairy has joined the list.
More than 50 retail outlets have already signed up for the product, bottled on a dusty block in Dandaragan, 160 kilometres north of Perth.



Former WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance is heading up the venture to harness WA's wild camel population to produce the milk.
"An operation of this size has never been done here before. We've got a 150 camels at the moment, milking 50 of them because that includes the babies. We are milking about 250 litres a day," he said.
"It's big step for us. We still have to raise awareness of the product within the public."
Good Earth Dairy sells 300ml bottles for around $8.00 and will soon launch a one litre bottle.

Export potential for WA's 'white gold'

At more than $20 a litre, camel milk is known as white gold.
It is low in lactose and fat, and said to be easier to digest than cow's milk.
It tastes a bit like a salty skim milk and the company claims it is the most similar product to human breast milk.



Fresh camel's milk is popular throughout the Middle East, Holland, the UK and the United States but it has not been widely available in Australia.
"Some stockists are doing extremely well … but the Australian market will always be limited because of the cost of product, we never expect we are going to rival cow milk in the long term," Mr Chance said.
The dairy plans to double its production within a year and has approval to take on another 250 camels.
Stage two of the expansion plan is to tap export markets for frozen and powdered camel dairy products.

Turning wild camels into milking machines

There are an estimated 750,000 wild camels roaming Australia's deserts, with millions spent on aerial culls.
"We think there is a better way, an opportunity to actually treat camels the way they should be treated. Because they are beautiful creatures, very affectionate and actually quite intelligent," Mr Chance said.

Rather than seeing them as a pest, the dairy takes on pregnant females and domesticates them for milking.


Dairy manager and cameleer Stephen Geppert trains the camels once they are mustered and trucked in from near Warburton.
"I get them to accept me as part of their pack and then as top of the pack and then I teach them what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour," he said.

"To me they feel like 800-kilogram puppy dogs, very very friendly, but they are rather powerful."

Camel Milk Victoria was recently singled out at the CHOICE Shonky Awards for making false claims about the health benefits of camel milk.
The WA venture is taking a more cautious approach.
"We are working with West Australian universities, to try and get some Australian generated clinical evidence of the benefits other people that have claimed," Mr Chance said.


Camel dairy proposed for WA
Australian first

A company backed by WA’s former agriculture minister Kim Chance wants to build Australia’s first commercial camel dairy 160km north of Perth.

Camilk Australia Pty Ltd intends to produce more than 1000 litres of camel milk a day from a farm in Yathroo for the Australian health food market.

If successful it would be Australia’s first commercial camel dairy, with up to 450 camels kept on 793ha.

Proponents claim camel milk, which sells for $20-$25 a litre, is akin to human breast milk for its nutritional benefits.

Calamunnda Camel Farm in WA and another farm in Queensland produce camel milk on a small scale, but because it is unpasteurised it cannot be legally sold for human consumption.

Camilk chairman and shareholder Mr Chance said the group was in talks with a foreign investor to fund the plan. He declined to name the investor or say how much was being raised.

Mr Chance said if the money was raised the operation could be up and running within two months.

“It’s never been done before, ” he said. “This is the first commercial operation in Australia. There are one or two backyard operations, but they’re usually milking three or four camels.

“This will be the first one that aims to fill a commercial market. Our belief is that the demand is very significant indeed but again that’s something we’ll find out.

“Our production will step up gradually so we don’t get embarrassed by oversupply.”

Camilk received planning approval from the Shire of Dandaragan last month and has Health Department approval to pasteurise the milk on-site.

The camels will be selected from the State’s feral camel population and fenced off on the farm.

The milk, along with an unpasteurised version, will be sold to health food customers in WA, Melbourne and Sydney.

Mr Chance said the group’s financial projections were based on a yield of five litres a camel a day. That would equate to 1125 litres a day or 410,625 litres a year.

Camilk hopes to increase the average yield to 10 litres a day.

Mr Chance said he believed there was scope to expand and the market would support production of about 3000 litres a day “but that was some years away yet”.

Because camels calve every second year, 450 camels would equate to 225 producing at any given time.

CAMEL MILK

Who drinks it?

Camel milk has been drunk for centuries by the nomadic Bedouin and is sold by Bedouin traders. Outside the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia it is largely sold through health food shops. Camel milk farms exist in Europe and the US.

How much does it cost?

Global prices vary but in Australia fresh camel milk costs $20-$25 a litre. Amazon.com charges $US145 for six pints of fresh milk or $US120 for 420g of powdered.

What are the perceived health benefits?

It has high levels of B vitamins, vitamin C and iron. Like other milk types it also contains calcium and protein. Proponents claim it can help treat everything from diabetes and autism to liver disease, acne, asthma and arthritis.

What does it taste like?

Taste varies depending on the diet of the camel but it is said to taste saltier than cow’s milk.

© The West Australian

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