Fighting continued on and off over the past 14 years in the Gaza region, and Israeli dairies often find themselves in the middle of the conflict. Kibbutzes - collective farms - have lined the Gaza border since 1948.
Yesterday, we posted a short story about a recent missile attack that hit the edge of a dairy parlor during milking, killing 9 cows immediately. This attack happened just hours before an announced ceasefire was brokered by an Egyptian proposal, and for our friends in the region we hope the ceasefire holds.
Ralph Ginsberg, an Israeli extension agent, immediately corresponded to provide more pictures and context to the situation spelled out by other Israeli newspapers. He works within the Gaza envelope (the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip) and throughout the country.
Ginsberg’s home farm has 1,000 cows. It is one of about 840 farms nationwide consisting of 124,000 cows, or 148 cows per farm on average. Most cows in the country are Israeli-Holsteins, and all bred by artificial insemination.
Israeli herds average 25,807 pounds (11,706 kilograms) of milk per cow per year, the highest national average in the world, with an average 3.7% fat and 3.24% protein. Animals are fed with irrigated forage supplemented by imported grain.
Much of Israel’s agriculture is based in a “Kibbutz” setting, which is a large collective settlement. Members share social and economic activities, and jointly own the production. The other type of settlement is a “Moshav,” where the farms are individual but they’re organized into a cooperative society. The two combined account for 83% of Israel's produce.
Milk is under quota in Israel, with price agreed upon by government, farmers, and industry. Heat stress is one of their major battles, so they cool cows heavily in the summer.
In pictures below is the 340-cow farm that rocket fire affected last week. Ginsberg said it is in the middle of the Gaza border, which you can see in the map is heavy in dairy farms. In one picture below, workers at one kibbutz hold up a sign that says “Dairies are the livelihood of the Gaza envelope settlements,” and Ginsberg says this has indeed been the case since 1948.
“Fairly often over the past fourteen years missiles were fired,” Ginsberg explained, “not always causing damage, and not only in times like now [during the recent battles].”
In addition to the 9 cows that died immediately at the farm pictured below, 10 more have since been euthanized.