Saumal – Mare’s Milk from Kazakhstan

Mare is a female horse, having two teets, producing very precious milk. The Mares’ milk is very white in color, watery in nature, and sweeter in taste.

The mare's milk in Kazakhstan
The mare milk is known as Saumal in the Kazakh language

Composition and Wellness Power of Mare Milk (MM)

It has been revealed that horse milk was used around 3500 years BC in present-day Kazakhstan. The MM is traditionally used in many parts of Central Asia, Russia, and China.  lower in fats (±1%), and protein but rich in lactose. The milk is composed of 89.7% water, 2.3% protein, and 89 mg ascorbic acid. MM contains 63 mg of phosphorus, 64 mg of potassium, 9.0 mg of magnesium, and 102 mg of calcium per liter.

Milk composition of Mare/Horse milk
Milk composition of Mare/Horse milk

It is the closest milk to breast milk (human milk). The demand for horse milk is increasing, mainly for its infants’ friendly nature and healing power, especially the respiratory complications. Horse milk comes from a very natural ecosystem and is raised by family farmers in the pastures of Central Asia.

Horse milk brand from Kazakhstan

Last week (13 Nov 2022) my camel friend (Kharijan, owner of a camel milk company) from Kazakhstan sent me a message that his brother (Gam) is coming to UAE and want to meet me. Gam is the owner of a horse dairying facility and trying to export MM to other countries. I’m always very keen to know about the different and diverse food sources, cultures, and regions. I warmly welcomed Gam and discussed many details of the horse production system, demand for horse milk, and future forecasts for this unique product.

Interesting story of a WW2 German soldier imprisoned in Kazakhstan

According to Gam, he got this idea of MM dairying from a German company processing horse milk. He told a very interesting story.

A German man (Hans Zollmann) was imprisoned in the former USSR, an area in present-day Kazakhstan. He had severe tuberculosis. The Jail authorities sent him out of the jail to rescue the other prisoners. He came out of jail but had no way to go back easily to Germany. He was adopted by a Kazakh nomadic family with horses as the main livestock.

Hans was used to drinking mare milk as it was the main available dairy product. After some months, he started feeling very well from tuberculosis. The horse herders told him that it was all because of the horse milk. Equine milk is believed to be the best for respiratory ailments in Central Asia. Myself (author) during my childhood had consumed donkey milk for the treatment of whooping cough (Pertussis).

When the situation got better and he returned back to Germany, he started milking mares and selling the milk to people with respiratory problems. His dairy (Stutenmilch GmbH) is now a well-established unit, using advanced technology for milk and processing, and has a higher demand for mare milk. Rudolf Storch (son of law of Hans Zollmann) is the CEO of Studenmilch GmbH.

Gam was impressed with his work and success when he visited the horse farm in Germany and knew the whole story. As he returned back from Germany (after completing his studies) he started a mare milk business.

Horse husbandry at Saumal farm

In Saumal farm, the horses are kept and bred according to the traditional wisdom of the Kazakh horse breeders. Mainly Kazak breed of horse is used for muti-tasks in Kazakhstan i.e racing, meat, and milk. The horses are free-grazing livestock in Kazakhstan, mainly grazing in the evening and night time.

A horse lives for 18 years almost and the first foaling happens at 3 years of age. A mare foals every year and foals 15 times in her life. The horse herders don’t milk mares after 12 years of age, after that, the mare is slaughtered and used for meat.

Free grazing horses: There is no special housing for the horses on the farm and in the region as well. The Kazakhs herders keep their horses without providing special housing, therefore the horses stay outside the house and enjoy free grazing and free roaming life. in winter (when the temperature reaches -40 C), the horses stay outside without any trouble. They are free grazing relying on the native flora, even in winter they remove the snow by shooting with the front leg and find grasses to eat. Kazakh horses are very close to their wild ancestors.

Breeding: The breeding season starts at the start of May and extends up to July. The conception rate from natural breeding is about 75 – 80 %. The gestation period is 11 months and the main foaling time is April to June, The foals should be enough grown to enter the winter (winter start in Sept). The foal stays with the mare for the first month of the foaling. The milking starts after the first month of foaling and continues up to 180 days (lactation period).

Saumal (Gam’s mare milk company) has 2000 horses in total and 1500 female horses (mare) of them. Out of the total 1500 mares, about 40% are in milk and the rest are either pregnant or dried out.

Milking: Machine milking is practiced. Customized milking liners for small ruminants are used for mare milking. At a time, 16 horses are milk, 8 on each side. The milking is done 5 times a day (only daytime).

The milking starts at 8 am, 5 times milking a day (after every 2 hours). The mares stay without the foals during the day, after milking finishes at 4 pm, they join the foals again. Then they go for grazing with their foals all evening and overnight. At 6 am they return to the farm/stall again and the foals are separated and hay is offered. At 8 am, the milking started again.  A quantity of 700 ml of milk is produced per time and milk 5 times daily (producing almost 3.5 kg of milk. 

Conclusion

The horse is a very important livestock, especially in Central Asia and adjoining regions. There is an increasing scientific interest in horse milk and the demand for MM is increasing, especially in Europe. MM is produced in a very natural friendly production system and there is a very convincing therapeutic value in the MM.

The MM for human consumption could contribute to the rural eco-sustainable development of the micro-economies of those areas threatened by marginalization.

For further reading and understanding, click on the links

  1. Jastrzębska E., Wadas E., Daszkiewicz T., Pietrzak-Fiećko R. (2017): Nutritional value and health-promoting properties of mare’s milk − a review. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 62, 511–518
  2. HORSE BREEDING IN KAZAKHSTAN: DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS AND CURRENT REALITIES
  3. Equine Milk Production and Valorization of Marginal Areas—A Review
  4. Balochi Horse -The unique horse breed of Balochistan
  5. Indigenous Livestock Breeds (ILBs) and the LIFE Approach! A case study in Balochistan

 

 

 

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