Israeli technology helps Canadian farmers

KIBBUTZ AFIKIM, Israel — Canadian farmers are turning to an Israeli company to help them increase the milk production of their cows.

Israel’s SAE Afikim, better known as Afimilk, is a world leader in computerized systems for dairy farm and herd management.

Across Canada, there are some 100 farms already hooked up to the Israeli dairy system. A team from Kibbutz Afikim is now shooting a film at Summitholm Holsteins farm in Lynden, Ont., to try to expand its activities.
“We found out that dairy farmers are most convinced by what their neighbours or friends or colleagues say,” said Noa Yonish, Afimilk’s marketing communication and market study manager.

“We are in North America to shoot a testimonial movie of real farmers who use our system successfully and are not shy about telling other people that it is good and works well,” she added.

Bjarne Rune, vice-president of sales at Afimilk said, “The average Israeli cow will produce 12,000 litres per year. For comparison, in the U.S. and Canada, it’s around 10,000 litres. The Israeli cow is significantly better, and it’s not because of the cow, it’s because of management. It’s technology, knowledge – and we really have made a difference.”

The sprawling kibbutz of Afikim is just south of the Sea of Galilee. The kibbutz has a few factories on site, but it is beside the small dairy shed that most of the action takes place.

It is here that R&D experts create hardware and software to monitor and direct the cows’ performance. Machines beep, cows moo, and the radio pumps out soothing music (to keep the cows happy).

“Our company was founded because of one man’s dream,” Rune said, referring to his mentor, Eli Peles.

Peles, a self-taught engineer, came up with the world’s first electronic milk meter some 25 years ago. It was a simple but revolutionary idea.

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