There are around 1.2 million feral camels roaming the Australian outback. Though it’s still considered a pest, a growing number of dairy farmers have taken to camel dairy farming.
As the camel milk industry builds so too does the number of camel dairies in Australia. Camel milk is said to have a number of health benefits, although not proved, it has become a popular alternative to regular dairy products.
Camel products such as pasteurised camel milk, ice-cream, yoghurt, cheese and skincare are some of the camel-dairy range emerging on the market.
Megan and Chris Williams, former dairy farmers made the switch to camel dairy after encountering the pests after starting work on a beef property.
Wanting to set up their own business, the couple opted for camel dairy instead of regular cow’s dairy. Mr and Mrs Williams explored and researched all their options:
We researched many different things... milking goats, buffalo, even miniature herefords at one stage and then we heard you can milk camels
But it was the retail price that sold the couple on camel’s milk. Pasteurised camel milk will sell for a whopping 20 dollars a litre in some states.
According to Ms Williams the high price of camel milk is due to production costs being quite high and yields being a lot lower than that of cow dairy.
Even just last year, cost of production was up around $17 per litre just to produce it.
Foreign interest in camel milk is evident. Chinese investors are said to be investigating potential plots to start a camel milk farm in South Australia and the United Arab Emirates have just funded north Melbourne’s 8 million dollar 'Camilk' business.
At present The Australia Wild Camel Corporation in Harrisville, south west of Brisbane boasts the largest population of camels in Australia- 450 animals and 65 milkers. The company is aiming for 1,000 milkers in the next couple of years.
Chief operating officer Paul Martin hopes that his products will shatter some misconceptions about camel dairy.
In a land like Australia we've got this animal that can survive through pretty well anything ... mother nature can throw at it and we're shooting it, and yet it produces meat, it produces milk, it produces fat products, hide leather. It's an amazing animal."
Header: Camel, Shutterstock