What might be considered cutting edge, different, or a niche market product here is just another day at the farm somewhere else in the world.
On Wednesday, our Extension Dairy Working Group (catchy title, aye?) met in Columbus. The Dairy Working Group is made up of County Ag Agents, Program Assistants and State Specialists.
We meet quarterly to anticipate and address issues and educational needs of Ohio’s dairy industry. Our goal is try to develop organized, efficient ways to meet those needs.
Egyptian visitors. Meanwhile, about 20 faculty from various Universities in Egypt are visiting OSU’s College of Agriculture for two weeks. They have already studied at the University of Florida for four weeks.
During their stay, they are to develop a new course to teach at their home universities.
They also work with faculty here to learn what we are doing and determine if there is research that can be jointly conducted.
This group was invited to observe our meeting to get a feel for how extension works in our country.
We asked the guests to share an overview of Egyptian agriculture with us. What I will share with you comes from a brief discussion.
Large and small. Agriculture in Egypt seems to be divided into two categories of production. Some larger operations appear to be most similar to our production units. Meanwhile, many families farm an acre or less and have one to three cows that are used for draft purposes, milk and meat production.
Two breeds. While there are Friesian (similar to our Holsteins,) Mohamed A. A. EL-Barody, professor of animal production, shared information about two breeds commonly found on these small farms.
The Balladi is a dark brown animal, with features similar to both Jerseys and Brown Swiss. The milk from these animals is not plentiful. They are used more for draft purposes than milk production.
Water buffaloes are reared as another of these multi-purpose animals. Mohammed’s statistics for one group of animals tracked by the Ministry of Agriculture were quite interesting:
Weights. The average age at first calving was 39.4 months weighing 941 pounds. The calves had an average birth weight of 80 pounds.
First lactation milk production averaged 2,178 pounds. Second lactation averaged 2,706 pounds and third lactation averaged 2,860 pounds of milk. Calving interval was more than a year.
Remember, though, that these animals are also working as the power source (no John Deeres or Whites on these small farms).
Cheese production. The milk is rich, and most is made into cheese. Cheese consumption is the main way milk is consumed, little is consumed as fluid milk.
The water buffalo milk averages 6.65 percent fat and 3.36 percent protein.
We did not have the opportunity to talk about nutrition and management practices of these small, subsistence farms. I suspect both factors play into the ages at first calving, calving intervals and production levels.
Calf mortality is also very high in this particular group of animals. Thirty percent of the calves do not make it to one year of age.
Next time your cows or heifers turn up their noses at a ration change, a walk to the parlor or the palpation rail, tell them you’d be glad to hitch a few of them to the plow or planter.
If they don’t want to milk so much, they can provide power or meat. Or, offer to get them a ticket on the next ship to Cairo.
(The author is the northeast Ohio district dairy specialist with OSU Extension. Send comments or questions in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)
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