An old sign from world famous and entirely mythical Matanuska Moose Milk dairy farm in Willow Alaska; not too far from Anchorage. In the image a milkmaid can be seen hand milking Matilda the farm’s first dairy moose.
Click on image for full-size view.
This is North America’s first and only moose dairy. When they make Moose Tracks ice cream, it’s the real thing; and the moosarella cheese makes great pizza.
Believe it or not there are moose dairies; a small number in Russia and one in Sweden.
Moose milk is commercially farmed in Russia. The milk is high in butterfat (10%) and solids (21.5%), according to data collected on Russian moose; research into American moose milk is in a less advanced state than in Russia, but appears to indicate that American moose have even higher concentrations of solids in their milk. Moose milk is said to be a bit salty and bitter; with a hint of pine or spruce needles.
A farm-born moose calf is taken from its mother within 2–3 hours after birth and is raised by people. It is first bottle-fed pure moose milk for about a week, but then it is diluted and gradually replaced with a milk substitute. The calves imprint and become attached to humans.The Russians say moose soon recognize the milkmaids as their substitute as her substitute calves. Milkmaids spread amniotic fluid on their hands to further this process. Having become accustomed to humans the animals are released to the forest; but visit the farm every day to be milked during the lactation period (typically, until September or October).
Some animals become more attached to the farm than do others. The Russians hope that after several generations they will see the development of domesticated moose. This effort is hampered by the fact that in the free-range conditions farm moose cows often mate with wild bulls.
During winter the animals roam free throughout the surrounding forest. They usually do not stray too far, but spend much of their time at nearby woodlots where trees are being cut, feeding on the by-products of timber operations. And they know the farm as the place for a daily rations of oatmeal, and as a safe place to give birth to their young.
One Russian sanitorium serves moose milk to residents in the belief that it helps them recover from disease or manage chronic illness more effectively. Some Russian researchers have recommended that moose milk could be used for the prevention of gastro-enterological diseases in children.
Kostroma Moose Farm began operations in 1963 under the aegis of Kostroma Oblast Agricultural Research Station which established a moose husbandry laboratory coordinate research conducted at the farm, both by Kostroma zoologists and scientists from Moscow and elsewhere. Kostroma lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma rivers; approximately 200 miles northwest of Moscow.
In addition to milk the Kostroma farm engages in the harvest of antler velvet. A bull moose grows a new pair of antlers every summer. Similar to the deer and reindeer (caribou) farms in New Zealand and Siberia, moose antlers can be harvested while they are still soft and covered with velvet, which is used for the manufacture of certain pharmaceutical products.
Tourists may also visit the farm. Though access to the farm is strictly controlled to protect the animals from disease. Visit to the facility can be arranged through the Kostroma Tourism Bureau.
Two other Russian farms, intending to raise moose for meat failed after a short time. Meat sales did not cover the costs of production which can be as much as ten times higher than for beef. And moose are not stupid. They soon stop returning to a place of slaughter.
The Elk (Moose are called Elk in Europe) House (Älgens Hus) farm in Bjurholm, Sweden is believed to be the world’s only producer of moose cheese. The cheese sells for about 500 dollars per pound. Algens Hus’ restaurant offers moose-cheese dishes. Cheese plain with bread or biscuits, or better yet, frozen moose mousse. Best served with raspberries.