QCamel, Sunshine Coast
QCamel are the world’s first certified organic camel milk dairy. Run by the Brisbane family, the dairy was the first to produce pasteurised camel milk in Australia and has been using sustainable, ethical and organic practices from the very beginning. QCamel prides itself on its three core foundations: their love of camels; their passion for ethical farming; and their focus on providing premium health products in the Australian and international market.
Sunshine Coast, QLD
The QCamel farm is located in the picturesque Glass House Mountains on the Sunshine Coast.
Established in 2006
QCamel was established by the Brisbane family back in 2006 with just two camels.
110 camels looked after by 7 staff members
QCamel produce certified organic camel milk products including chocolate, cheese and more.
What’s the story behind QCamel?
QCamel’s story began back in 2006 when Director Lauren Brisbane conducted a two-year study surrounding the development of the camel industry in Queensland (Camels in Queensland: Opportunities for Diversification, 2009). Lauren convinced husband Peter to invest in a couple of camels to assist with her studies; “Do you mind if I buy a couple of camels?” This ‘couple of camels’ has now grown to over 110 on their organic property – and there’s no sign of it stopping there.
Situated on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, the farm is surrounded by green fields and state forests, with the Glass House Mountains providing a picturesque backdrop. The farm dedicates an area of around 8,900 acres to its organic operations (organic pasture and dairy), with the non-organic remainder of the property standing at around 3,000 acres.
Watch highlights from our visit to QCamel here.
The QCamel dairy is fully mobile and can be redesigned in just a few days. As QCamel were unsure of the capacity they required when they started the farm, having this kind of flexibility was essential for their business model. The light coloured roof keeps the dairy cool and inviting, and the camels walk into the dairy by themselves (much like dairy cows) to be milked once a day. Each camel produces around 2-6 litres of milk in one session, much less than your average dairy cow at 30-50 litres per day, and can be milked until around 30 years of age.
A helping hand
QCamel’s farm is protected by 8 month old Maremma sheepdogs and a pair of Jerusalem donkeys – an unusal combination!
Wild dogs pose a large threat to baby camels and, since baiting is not an option, the sheepdogs provide a more natural method of security by tracking, perimeter checking and guarding the property at night, while the donkeys help to protect new-born camels and their mothers.
As soon as you step onto the farm, it’s clear to see Lauren’s passion for her animals. The camels are not treated like livestock; you’ll see no ear tags or numbers here. Instead, each camel is known by face and name and treated as members of the family. Lauren explains how camels are greatly misunderstood and is more than happy to debunk the myths. With camel fossils dating thousands of years found around the world (some say they were originally adapted for snow), these highly evolved, gentle and intelligent creatures are much like elephants in their mannerisms – spending their lives in groups and operating on hierarchal and matriarchal systems.
Every camel is known by name and face
The camels produce around 8 babies each during their lifetime, around 1 every 3 years. The babies generally stay with their mothers for 2 years, allowing the camels to choose when they want to wean. Camel mothers aren’t milked until the babies are at least 2 months old and are allowed to stay beside their mothers in the dairy whilst milking occurs. Injured animals on the farm are treated instead of being simply disposed of – one of their adult camels is currently being treated for a leg injury using Hum Honey for its natural antiseptic properties.
The camels are fed a grain-free, certified organic plant-based diet, leaving no room for unpleasant smells which are usually associated with herd animals. The farm is also cleaned regularly to prevent a build-up of flies and other unwanted pests, meaning no need for insecticides.
Organic camel milk products
Certified organic camel milk is full of incredible properties. Camel milk is the closest mammal equivalent to human milk and doesn’t contain many of the allergens associated with dairy upsets (including Casein) meaning it can be tolerated by the majority of the population. Camel milk is good for digestion and Lauren suggests that half a cup of the milk at breakfast can help to calm to gut and reduce bloating.
Since the camels are fed a grain-free, certified organic diet, their products are less likely to upset the bowel and are free from synthetic chemicals, added hormones, artificial colours or preservatives. Their products include the original camel milk, powdered milk and protein powder, honey and mango yoghurt smoothie (made with award winning Hum Honey), chocolate pralines, camel cheese and their new range of organic skincare which utilises Australian ingredients and is made locally in Queensland.
Giving back to the community
As part of the Sunshine Coast Food Trail, QCamel are an active member of their local community – sourcing local ingredients to use in their products and sending their organic manure to fertilise the nearby Maleny Botanic Gardens. Their willingness to help others and give back to the community doesn’t stop there.
QCamel works closely with EPIC Assist – an employment service helping people with disability find and maintain employment. EPIC not only match job seekers to meaningful employment opportunities, they also work closely with employers to ensure the correct training and support is provided all round. Through its work with EPIC Assist, QCamel has provided job seekers with the opportunity to gain employment, work with animals and be supported in their roles and their lives outside of work.