Dairy cows need optimal conditions to be productive. Warm climates like in the Middle East, do not contribute to achieving the goal. Dr Rami Hamad of Al Rawabi in Dubai however, knows how to manage the herd and protect the cows from heat stress. Excellent production figures are the result.
Dairy cattle are often associated with nice green meadows where they can be seen grazing. Unfortunately not everywhere in the world is this romantic picture a reality. Like in the emirate Dubai in the Middle East. Here, hardly any crops are grown. In this harsh environment, temperatures can soar up to over 50 degrees during the summer. Cattle are fed only with imported hay and fodder and they are kept in herds in relatively small pens with indoor and outdoor access.
"Nonetheless, we have the best breeding results in the world", says Dr. Rami Hamad. Together with his 220 staff, Rami is farm manager of Al Rawabi Dairy Co in Dubai, UAE. Al Rawabi is such a farm, keeping about 12,000 head dairy cattle, usually 6,500 – 7,000 of which are in production most of the time. The rest are dry (pregnant) cows, calves en heifers.
Understanding the language
"It is a misunderstanding that cows under these conditions would be unable to be highly productive", says Rami. "But you need to understand their language and their behaviour and respond accordingly in managing the herd. We don't copy anybody and we don't consider their instruction book as a holy book. On the contrary, we use the cow as our guidance. We have proven to be successful in our approach as we achieve very satisfying production figures. One parameter for example is a mastitis degree of only 0.3%. To a large extent that is thanks to our management of keeping the facilities clean. We do our best and avoid using any medicine. If its not necessary, stay away from medication!
Another parameter is the "rolling herd average" (RHA) production of 31 litres of milk per cow per day, says Rami. Unlike in Europe, we are not interested in very high protein and fat content of milk. In our country high production volumes are more important, with keeping standard fat and protein levels.