The Shmooze

Milk Masters: Israeli Cows Overcome Odds To Become Most Productive

By Nathan Jeffay

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In 1962 Jewish Agency officials declined to give Kibbutz Yotvata a grant to set up a dairy herd. The kibbutz is in the hot desert near Eilat, and experts said that cows couldn’t live in such a climate. Similar skepticism was voiced decades earlier, when Zionists first started dairy farming in this dry part of the Middle East.

Amazing then, if you think about it, that Israel’s cows have become the most productive in the world. It shows how innovative methods can overcome inhospitable conditions, and also serves as a testament to the success of Israel’s cooperative farming communities — moshavim and kibbutzim — in spreading expert skills around farmers. Figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (not published in English) show that Israeli cows produce, on average, 22,500 pounds of milk last year, the best yield in the world. American cows produced 20,571 pounds, Japanese cows 16,528 pounds and European Union cows produced 13,534 pounds.

So Israel really is a land flowing with milk and honey.


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