The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 11/29/2008 11:27 AM
Growing up among dairy cows, Dedy said he gave up on drinking milk when he was a boy, he became bored with fresh milk, having been directly exposed to it and the animals that produce it for so long.
"I don't like milk," Dedy Iskandar, 33, the son of a dairy cattle farmer in Pondok Rangon, East Jakarta said.
Dedy's parents have more than 20 cows, which together can produce more than 70 liters of fresh milk every day. The modest family home looks out over the farm's broad pastures.
Besides Dedy, 26 other farmers, along with more than 1,100 dairy cows live in the area. The farms, which produce more than 4,500 liters of milk every day, are the only authorized dairies left in Jakarta.
According to Wahyuna Rahmani, Dedy's mother, before moving to Pondok Rangon, all the farmers lived in Kuningan, South Jakarta, which was a famed dairy center until the 1990's.
"Dedy's great grandfather owned more than 50 dairy cows in the Kuningan area. They were a good breeders compared to us, we only have a few cattle.
"The government forced us to move because the area was part of a strategic development site, which is now the site of many important buildings," she added.
At the time however, Wahyuna refused to move. She was overwhelmed by the idea of moving to an unknown area and worried about raising cattle in a new place.
The government reserved 11 hectares of land in Pondok Rangon for dairy farmers to live and work on. Deddy's family moved there in 1993. The family packed up their belongings, took five of their dairy cows, and started to build a new life.
"At that time, the area was so silent and empty. It was a miserable place with no trees," Wahyuna said.
The area also has changed a great deal since then. Not only has it become a well-known dairy center, but the cows now compete for space with an every growing number of people, buildings and paved roads.
After 15 years Wahyuna has 22 cattle, including some calves.
Wahyuna said that her cows often give birth to male offspring.
"Usually I rear those bulls to sell. The meat of dairy cattle is so good and more expensive than the other kinds of cattle. It always fetches a good price, especially around the Islamic sacrifice day of Idul Adha," she said.
According to Dedy, the farmers milk their cows twice a day, in the early morning and around midday. "We use margarine as a lubricant to squeeze the cows' teats," Dedy said. Before milking the cows, the farmers first clean their stable, and, after the milking is finished, the farmers feed the cows. The routine is very important.
"The cows have their own routine activities. If we changed anything, it would confuse them and they would produce less milk," he said.
"This is a traditional dairy cattle farm. We hope someday we will be able to afford milking machines," Dedy said.
Deddy is most worried that traditional farmers like him will lose customers because it is so easy to get powdered milk at supermarkets.
"I don't know how much longer these traditional farms can survive," Dedy said. (naf)