Why Cows Might Lose the Milk Market to Camels

istock / istock

by Lisa Wogan

For hundreds of years, cows have dominated the milk scene in America. But that may soon change. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the domestic production and consumption of camel milk, and today, there are more than 5000 camels grazing in the United States. Could Americans get over the hump and adopt a new milk? Let the competition begin!

Which one produces healthier milk?

Which one is easier to milk?


Over the centuries, dairy cows have been bred to produce about 7 gallons of milk per day—averaging between 15,000 and 25,000 pounds of milk per year—without complaint or need for company. As small farms were transformed into large-scale commercial operations at the turn of the 20th century, milkmaids turned in their stools and pails. These days, most of the 9 million dairy cows in the United States are milked by machines, assembly line-style, in “milking parlors.” Here, cows are herded through a washing pen twice a day, rinsed by sprinklers, and latched into milking stalls. The cows’ udders are sprayed with antiseptic and then attached to a milking machine—either by humans or robots. The milk is then channeled down pipelines to a storage tank, where an electronic sensor recognizes when the cows are out of milk and releases the udders.

Between the robo-milkers and the automated feed stations, it’s possible for one person to oversee the milking of as many as 500 cows in one day.

Which one is more American?

Which one is more fun to tip over?

Which one makes the better cheese?

Which one makes more fascinating excrement?

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