Milestones in the History of Israeli Dairy Cattle

1880The first modern dairy farm at the Mikveh-Israel agricultural school based on the local breed of cattle.
The combined herds of all Jewish settlers number 774 head, all of the local breed, a very small cow with yields between 300-I,000 kg/ year.
1911Ben-Shemen experimental farm acquires dairy herd, based on Damascus and Betruth breeds with 1,000-5,000 kg/ year.
1912Degania Aleph, the first Kibbutz starts its own dairy herd.
1917/18Turkish rule gives way to British Mandatory Government.
1919Founding year of "HACHAKLAIT", a mutual livestock insurance cooperative.
In the wake of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 begins the era of Zionist colonization of the promised homeland: dairy herds are planned as a central branch in the framework of mixed farming in Kibbutz and Moshav settlements.
1921 HACHAKLAlT starts own veterinary service for its affiliated members. Import of 23 cows and 4 bulls from Holland to Binyamina.
HAMASHBIR wholesale cooperative collects and markets the milk produced by Jewish settlements. From 1930 on it is the TNUVA cooperative to market all farm products, incl. milk.
1926On December 25-26, founding of the "Dairymen's Union", forerunner of the ISRAEL CATTLE BREEDERS' ASSOCIATION of today (ICBA).
1929Milk recording in 11 herds with a total of 336 cows.
1925-1935First result of crossing indigenous and Damascus cattle with Dutch and Friesian bulls.
During the third decade of the century, import of several bulls from Holland, whose sons are distributed by ICBA to interested herds.
A voluntary plan for the eradication of Brucellosis is enacted by the British mandatory government.
1933Research in tick borne diseases and subsequently, cattle dipping, immunization against Theileriasis.
1934First anti-mastitis campaign.
1935Experiments with artificial insemination. From 1937 on, ICBA takes initiative to divulge and promote A. I.
1936- 38Relatively large Imports of cows from Holland, Switzerland, Romania, Germany and other countries.
1936-39Severe outbreaks of Foot & Mouth disease.
1940-45Increased production of milk and dairy products; marked increase in the production of homegrown roughages; citrus peel and pulp as feed for dairy cattle. Diffusion and use of crossbred bulls; intensified and controlled use of existing Dutch bulls.
1944ICBA promotes data collection and analysis of type evaluation for crossbred cows.
1945First progeny testing, based on daughter/ dam comparison.
1945-47Cooperative A. I. centers organize on a regional scale.
Severe outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease; for the first time a vaccine is used against the disease.
With the import ot 47 cows, 11 heifers and 12 bulls from Canada begins the transition from Dutch blood to the Holstein-Friesian strain of the brood.
ICBA starts instruction of dairy farmers in the use of milking machines, as a regular service to its members.
On the eve of national independence, the entire dairy herd amounts to 33,000 head, of which 73% are cows and pregnant heifers.
Yearly milk production reaches 75 million liters; average yield is about 4,000 kg/ cow. (During the war of independence, appr. 10% of all cattle were lost, mainly in locations close to fighting).
1948-1950Last import of Damascus cows intended as foundation cows for crossbreeding, "Stavith", an F,-cross, reaches over 100,000 kg lifetime production.
Massive immigration creates growing demand for fresh milk, while new settlers need to be supplied with dairy cattle as a means to ensure their Ilvelihood. As a result begins the large-scale import of dairy cattle, a total of 18,600 head during the decade, 61% of the imported cattle are American Holstein-Freisian, resulting in a rapid change the the genetic composition of the Israeli dairy herd.
S-19 calf hood vaccination is made compulsory, in order to forego probable reinvention with Brucellosis by imported stock. National dairy herd practically free of Brucellosis in 1970.
1951Registration of prospective dams for A. I. bulls.
Israel enters E.A.A.P., the European Association for Animal Production.
Fund for the campaign against Bovine Tuberculosis, as the first major step towards eradication of the disease in 1973.
First issue of MESHEK HABAKAR VEHEHALAV (Hebrew), bi-monthly of the ICBA.
Construction of new types of cattle housing; loafing sheds with deep bedding bring about radical changes in the management of dairy herds: separation of milking from feeding and resting areas. First milking parlours with elevated platforms.
1953Registration and publication of 200 Elite cows (over 50,000 kg lifetime production), mostly crossbreds.
Yotvata, the first dairy tarm in the desert near Eilat on the Red Sea.
Introduction of progeny testing by the contemporary comparison method; bulls are laid-off while "awaiting" their progeny's performance.
Institution of the Israel Dairy Board, composed of representatives from all branches of the industry: government agencies, ICBA, dairy plants and the farmworkers' union.
1957Publication of the law regulating "the genetic improvement of cattle".
First exposition of daughters of A. I. bulls after their progeny test, in order to demonstrate type traits probably transmitted by their sires. Since then, A. I. center "ON" organizes expositions to that specific purpose on a regular schedule.
1959Data on second lactations included in progeny tests.
With the sale of 60 pregnant heifers to Iran begins the exportation of thousands of breeding stock to that country, and to other destinations as well, accompanied by ICBA's technical assistance.
The construction of a large cooperative feedmill - AMBAR, forerunner of other cooperative enterprises on a regional scale -leads to more efficient cattle-feed production and initiates the use of computers for farming purposes
Rate of gain for bull calves included in progeny tests.
Last Import of bulls to A. l. centers; from now on rely entirely on Israeli bred bulls, plus very limited and sporadic imports of sermen for programmed mating to prospective dams for A-1. bulls.
Introduction of quotas for milk production; government subsidies as a major instrument in planning and limiting production to satisfy local market.
1964Data on milk recording and progeny testing elaborated by computer center.
Introduction of frozen semen by both major A. I. centers leads to close collaboration between the two cooperatives and to the institution of a common semen bank, for use in Israel and for export
1966The herd of Kibbutz Merhavia, first ever to exceed 8,000 kg/ cow/ year average milk production.
First export of pregnant heifers to a European country; within two years 500 head to the Sicilian project in Italy; Israeli technical assistance helps farm to reach over 5,000 head of dairy cattle.
Change in the computation of progeny tests by introducing the ECM (economically fat-corrected milk).
1970Israel enters ICRPMA (International Committee for Recording the Productivity of Milk Animals), later to become ICAR.
1971ICBA's initative leads to the institution of the "Research Fund", where farmers contribute their share (50%) to scientific research in dairying.
1974Introduction of mobile mixer-feeders is followed by new concept in feeding: TMR, the complete diet.
The FAO/Poland trial: "Comparison of different strains of black-and-white cattle" -participating ten countries (USA, Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Israel, New Zealand and the host country). in the R, generation, i. e. backcrossing the first generation (F,= Polish Friesian cow/ tested strain bull) to their paternal strain, Israel ranks first in improvement on milk and fat production (kg), as well as on early maturity, body measurements and rate of growth of both male and female offspring.
1977The American method (NRC) for the calculation of rations is generally accepted. Third lactations are included in progeny tests.
The average production of the Ma'agan Mikhael herd exceeds 10,000 Kg/ cow/ year.
1978Integrated computer programs for milk-recording and data on fertility.
1979Launching of a national campaign for the improvement of milk quality, together with the control of mastitis.
1980Differential payment for milk, based on bacterial count.
Registration and publication of Elite cows (over l00,000 kg lifetime production).
Export of pregnant heifers to Zambia, followed-up by technical assistance from ICBA. Integrated computerisatlon of dairy farm management on a regional scale (feeding, production, reproduction and health).
Insurance made operative against accidental loss of cattle and indemnity in cases of emergency slaughter.
1982-84Export of pregnant heifers to Egypt.
Publication of herd averages. ranked according to rolling herd averages. Israel Holstein Sire Directory 1983, published in English, contributes to an increase In the export of semen.
Locally manufactured electronic milkmeters, officially approved for their accuracy and reliability, gain popularity amongst dairy farmers.
ICBA erects own Central Laboratory for Milk-Recording, with automatic and computerized equipment, able to test milk for fat, protein, lactose and somatic cell count.
1984First electronic identification devices introduced as indispensable component of computerized management system. Development of software compatible with farms' needs. Confronted with three-digit inflation, dairy farmers and their organizations (ICBA, A.1. centers, HACHAKLAIT ) fix dues for membership and services in terms of "milk-values".
1985ICBA becomes a member of the European Federation of Black & White Breed Societies
(now EHFC).
1986ICBA erects the Museum of Dairy Farming at Yif'at.
BLUP becomes the new method of sire evaluation, with genetic base 1982.
First semen exports to the Netherlands. ICBA creates own unit for Embryo Transfer.
1991The selection index is changed from ECM
to PD91= -0.274 (kg milk)+ 641 (kg fat)+ 34.85 (kg protein)
1992Conformation traits are included in BLUP evaluations.
1993-95Massive export of frozen semen to CIS republics of Central Asia.
1994 Animal model evaluations include SCC and female fertility.
199595,038 milk-recorded cows produce average yield of 10,086 kg/ cow/ year.
Total annual production of cows' milk in Israel surpasses one billion liters .
1996First export of pregnant heifers to India.
Relocation of ICBA offices, Herdbook and laboratory for milk-recording to Caesaria Industrial Park, together with HACHAKLAIT and the Service for Udder Health and Milk Quality.
Somatic Cell Score (SCS) added to the selection index renamed
PD96= -0.274 (kg milk)+ 6.4( kg fat)+ 34.85 (kg protein) -300 (SCS)
1997The 23rd EHFC Annual Conference meets in Israel (21-23.9).
Impending application of Agenda 2000 reforms and stringent environmental regulations induce co-owner-ship of enlarged dairy herds beneffing from economies-of-scale.
Kibbutz Beith Alfa installs first Robot-milker in Israeli herds.
2000ICBA introduces own computerized dairy herd management program.
97,661 milk-recorded cows produce average yield of 10,715 kg/cow/year.
2001A.I. centers ON and HASHERUT unite into one coop.-SION

The success story of Israel's dairy farming is based on its dedicated farmers. Their single mindedness, coupled with professional training and the constant search for improvement of breeding as well as technology and technique, has enabled them to overcome adverse climatic conditions, limited land and water resources.

Recent years have witnessed a steady progress in the use of computers at different levels. Originally starting out with computerizing milk-recording data, a nationwide system of data processing has been established, covering all aspects of dairy farming from daily production to feeding, breeding, animal health and economic analysis.

We are far from having fully exploited our dairy herd's genetic potential. Efforts will have to corltinue to improve even more management and feeding, health and fertility. If 97 large herds could pass the average of 11,500 kg milk per cow in 2000, it is to be expected, that before long these top achievements will be rnere averages.

However, the success of the past does not permit us to rest on our laurels. The future confronts us with challenges of a nature different from pure cattle breeding and husbandry. Accelerated urban development spreading and encroaching on traditional farming areas WIII require more stringent measures of environmental control and waste disposal on the part of dairy farmers, in particular.

The needed additional investment and cost of operation may, in some cases, exceed the financial capacity and economic feasibility of otherwise efficiently producing dairy farms. In the extreme case, the thus created situation might even trigger the dismantling of existing dairy farms and their re-establishment in areas far from the expanding cities - maybe in the open spaces of our southern, or alike regions.

Maybe the desert shall bloom again -it is a question of Survival, a challenge to be met with foresight based on careful study and evaluation of facts and possibilities and on meticulous planning. Israeli dairy farms and their organization ICBA are ready to meet the challenge of a somewhat uncertain future with the needed entrepreneurial spirit and professional dedication.
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