OTJIWARONGO, 18 APR – The moment classical music starts playing from sound speakers in the milk station, cows on Farm Ahrensburg in the Otjozondjupa Region immediately stop whatever they are doing and walk on their own in queues from the kraals to the station.
Many cattle farmers around the world believe cows produce more milk when they hear soothing music, which helps them relax while also drowning out noise from the machines used in the milking process.
Traditionally, communal Sanga cattle herders whistle melodies and sometimes massage cows to relax them in order to get more milk.
Farm Ahrensburg owner Kaura Kaura agreed, saying cows produce less milk when there is no music playing.
Kaura said they also give their cows biscuits while they are being milked. The salted biscuits are made from a fodder containing fibre and a little salt.
“The practice is working here as these 20 to 40 cows give us about 250 litres of fresh milk a day,” he said.
The cows are milked in the mornings and evenings, and each cow can provide milk over a period of about six months.
The project has been running for about two years on the new 3 000-hectare dairy farm that was recently equipped with machines that extract and bottle milk. The privately-run farming venture has 140 cows in total.
It is situated about 80 kilometres north of Otjiwarongo in the Okorusu area.
“We only farm with Friesians, Jerseys, Braunvieh, Aussies and Holsteins,” said Kaura.
Workers remove five-day-old calves from their mothers and pass them on to a surrogate mother to suckle on.
“We do this to have more milk (from the lactating cow), because once the calves are removed from their mothers and given to another cow, we can milk their mothers freely for commercial purposes,” said Executive Director of Farm Ahrensburg, Timo Mujeu.
Mujeu said one surrogate cow can feed four calves at once.
He said they have not experienced any mortality or feeding deficiencies among the calves.
The cows’ udders are first cleaned with water then tested for quality before the teats are hooked onto milking machines.
The milking process takes between seven and 10 minutes and after milking, the teats are again cleaned thoroughly to prevent bacteria from building up.
The milk from Farm Ahrensburg Nord No. 79 are sold under KZT Dairy Products at N$11 per litre. A litre of milk in local shops go for about N$15.
The farm supplies about 523 learners at the hostels of the Karundu primary and junior secondary schools, as well as Paresis Senior Secondary School, Orban Primary School and the Otjiwarongo State Hospital.
The dairy received certification from the Ministry of Health and Social Services showing its milk is of good standard to be consumed.
So far this year over 100 local and foreign people have visited the farm to witness the milking process.
Visits are free of charge while some other dairies charge around N$25 per person.
Otjozondjupa Regional Governor, Otto Ipinge also recently visited the farm, and was impressed with the concept of music being played for the cows.
Ipinge then suggested that it would be good for each region to have its own dairy factory in order to reduce milk imports from other countries, mostly South Africa.
His suggestion follows anticipation that milk prices will again this month reduce by 10 per cent, just like last month, because of cheap dairy imports.
It will be the third time the price will drop since November last year, because South African UHT (ultra-high temperature processing) milk sells at much lower prices in Namibia.
About this, the Namibia Agricultural Union urged for the speedy tabling of a long-awaited bill to control import and export of dairy and dairy products, due to be tabled in Parliament later this year.