Gonen Harel, Tran Thi Bich Nguyen and Dagan Sadrin with dairy cows .
(photo credit: SHARON UDASIN)
Spanning 800,000 sq.m. and housing 15,000 milking cows in central Vietnam, the largest Israeli dairy farming project in the world is set to reach completion this year, the companies involved announced Thursday.
At a cost of more than $200 million, Israelis teamed up with Vietnamese to construct the enormous TH Milk facility, in which the cows are capable of generating 9,300 liters of milk annually despite tropical conditions, the companies said. Stemming from an initial agreement signed between Kibbutz Afikim-based milking technology developer Afimilk, and the Vietnamese firm TH Milk in 2009, construction and operation of the 12 milking parlors has occurred in stages.
Design and planning for the facility has been implemented by the Tel Aviv-based AlefBet Planners Ltd., alongside the Galil Engineering Group.
The original cows for the dairy farm arrived from New Zealand and were inseminated with Israeli and European sperm to maximize the quality and milk yield of the herd, the project partners said.
Designing the site was particularly challenging due to the lack of existing infrastructure suitable for a sizable dairy industry in Vietnam, explained Ronen Feigenbaum, farms and livestock at AlefBet Planners. The project is 11 times larger than the biggest milking facility in Israel and can generate milk amounts equivalent to 15 percent of Israel’s dairy industry, he said.
Although average milk production in Israeli dairy cows reaches about 13,000 liters annually, reaching a 9,300-liter yearly production rate for cows in Vietnam is an achievement from a global perspective, due to the climate conditions, the project partners said. This accomplishment was made possible due to the installation of cooling systems that absorb excess heat, they added.
Milking technology from Afimilk has also been instrumental in a second milking project in Vietnam, an Israeli demonstration farm just outside of Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country.
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The farm, managed by the city’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department, in conjunction with the Israeli Embassy in Vietnam, aims to help the country’s dairy farmers increase local milking efficiency and quality.
Although employing technologies from private companies Afimilk and Netanya-based SCR Dairy, the demonstration farm is a public venture, whose professional operations are overseen by the Foreign Ministry’s Mashav Agency for International Development Cooperation and the Agriculture Ministry’s Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation.
Unlike the demonstration farm, which has 174 cows predominantly for educational purposes, the commercial TH Milk farm is set to have some 20,000 cows by the end of the year. The farm could be expanded even further, but TH Milk would need to increase the size of the processing plant to accept more cows, Feigenbaum, who served as the chief designer, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
All in all, over the past fiveand- a-half years of working on the project, Feigenbaum said he observed that “the knowledge transfer was enormous.”
“Basically all the infrastructure that was needed for large dairy farming in Vietnam was built around this project – meaning veterinarians, medicines and vaccines,” he said. “I designed even how to unload the cows at the port.”
“This infrastructure will serve other projects and serve Vietnam for a long period now,” Feigenbaum said.
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