By ANNE OUTWATER, 24th December 2011 @ 14:00, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 1272
Not from books, but from experience, I know a good amount about dairy farming. I was raised in a part of the world that has a lot of dairy cattle.
In Vermont, a farmer would tend about 50 cows, bringing them inside every evening, wintering them with hay, calving in the spring, and pasturing in the summer and autumn. A farming family could live a moderate standard of living with between 50 and 100 cows and the acres on which to keep them, which in fertile land might have been about 100.
A lot of families did this. They grew fruits, berries, and vegetables in the summer and autumn, as well as corn for the cows to eat in winter. I was not raised on a farm, but I learned how to milk a cow and how often, and the warmth of the cow’s frosty breath in the winter.
They seemed very big, but we would pet their faces and shiver when their long tongues wet our cheeks or hands. I learned all sorts of things such as which grasses make good hay, when to cut the hay and how to let it dry properly so it would store well through the winter. When we were small we would visit the watering holes that had been dug into the pasture – something was always happening there, such as big frogs burping and robins collecting mud to build their nests.
We would try to pass around the cows without disturbing them. One day I did the wrong thing, although I still do not know what it was (story of my life!); I was chased by a bull, only escaping by running as fast as I could over the uneven ground, reaching the barbed wire fence edging the pasture in time to squiggle under.
Still when I remember that narrow escape my breath shortens and my eyes open wide! The cows were milked twice a day and the milk was brought to a central processing unit with high quality control. Then it was packaged and sent out. So although we didn’t usually buy milk directly from the famer, we drank milk knowing some of the farmers producing it, and how they cared for their animals.
We ate high quality dairy products – milk, butter, cheese, and yogurt - every day. Dairy was a major part of our diet. When I came to Tanzania I bought milk from my neighbor for some years. When that source dried up I turned to corporate milk. I tried them all. The one I liked best was Tanga Fresh. I find it consistently full bodied and creamy.
It reminds me of the milk of my childhood. I started asking about it. My neighbor’s mother was a farmer in Tanga. Now that she is 80 years old, so she has left for her son managing the farm. As I listen to her telling me about her experience it seems similar to what I remember.
The model seems the same. The milk is taken by foot, bicycle or mule to an agent that brings it to a chilled collection point. The milk is tested for quality. From there the milk is transported by car to the factory. Tanga Fresh has been collecting their milk since 1996, the year that it started as a joint-venture between Friesland in Northern Netherlands and Tanga Dairy Cooperative Union (TDCU). Before that there was no guaranteed market for their milk. Now TDCU consists of 11 cooperatives with 3,150 farmers.
An update on the Tanga Fresh website says,?“… milk supply to the Tanga Fresh factory this year is exceeding the 15 per cent target increase. The project team invited all operators and cooperative leaders of the milk collecting centers to the factory. Training was given in how to make maximum use of the new communication system by telephone messages.
The system now reaches about 2,900 dairy farmers. Tanga Fresh is in full swing building new milk collecting centers. A lot of thinking was put in the design of the centres, keeping them as simple and practical as possible. Tanga Fresh is happy to share the design with others.” Thank you Tanga Fresh for all you are doing – stabilizing more than 3,000 families on their land, creating a high quality product that builds the health of the citizens. Best wishes for the New Year.
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