TBG always sees camels on the way to work and is telling me about them – I couldn’t understand why, till he casually mentioned “oh, well, there’s a camel dairy just off the road”. What?? Why have we not been there yet?? So, here we go!
Driving up to the entrance of the facility. I wanted to take photos of the actual road we were on, but there was a group of men sitting alongside the road in the shade, eating and drinking. It’s not acceptable to take someone’s photo here unless you ask first, so I didn’t get that shot.
Yup, It’s Camelicious! Told you. The official name of this dairy is The Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products (EICMP). Now, just for fun, go right ahead and start singing in your head the song “Fergalicious” by Fergie….. “So delicious (It’s hot, hot) So delicious (I put them boys on rock, rock) So delicious (They want a taste of what I got) I’m Fergalicious (T-t-tasty, tasty)” OK, anyway, now that that’s stuck in your brain read on!
From this facility, over 3000 camels produce the nutritious milk which the on-site factory processes into multiple products- milk, flavored milk, chocolates and “camelchinos” – frothy coffee beverages.
This camel dairy farm is owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and is one of only two in the UAE and is the largest in the world. The herds are still under development, with western-style herd tracking, breeding and artificial insemination methods underway, but the Camelicious milk has been on supermarket shelves in the UAE for years. The UK has just issued the approval for Camelicious milk to be exported there and will be on UK supermarket shelves shortly. Now, as I understand it, wild camel milk has a very “distinct” flavor as the animals graze on desert brush, and this taste is generally considered undesirable for the masses. Camelicious camels are “camels of a different kind” though. They are fed imported alfalfa hay from New Zealand as well as carrots and dates. This combination sweetens the milk and makes it more consistent and palatable.
One thing I’ve learned about this facility is that they have a genuine concern for these tempermental critters. They don’t want them turned into “humped milking machines”. See, camels do not like to have their schedule disrupted, they normally need their calves present to produce milk, and they’re used to walking many miles daily. In order to keep the herds happy and milky, the facility has made adjustments – scheduling is precise, a walking track has been added and the camels spend daily time with their calves. Happy camels, Camelicious milk!
I asked TBG why this camel had a red rope between his front feet and he said it was a hobble of sorts. I asked why all the rest of the camels didn’t have one, and he said “That one must be the leader. Camels are social critters, they’ll follow one lead camel anywhere, but they like to stay huddled together. Their body temperatures are lower than the outside temps, so huddling feels cooler to them.”
This is the “cattle guard” things that I’m used to seeing in the US over roadways at fenceline – though those are made of pipes, and much closer together. These must be heavier, and further apart for the camels’ bigger feet.
Oh, and ever wonder how they transport camels from place to place?? LOL… here ya go!!