Camel Life, Inc. is the creation of the Heering Family of Wellington, Florida.
Our Founder, Robb Heering, is a career entrepreneur, a veteran lawyer, real estate broker and deal maker.
Originally from Connecticut, Robb and his family relocated to South Florida in 2012 to pursue various business ventures.
One day in early 2015, at the urging of a friend, Robb visited a local fair and strolled through the petting zoo section. He saw a variety of animals, baby goats, a few cows, a zebra, and a baby camel. The baby camel looked scared and frail and was being forced to sit most of the day so that fairgoers could touch him and attempt to feed him with $1 per handful grain.
Robb saw the staff people feed the camel a tiny bottle of watered down milk and he decided to ask about the camel. The camel was only 2 months old and had been taken from his mother to join the traveling petting zoo.
Robb decided he wanted to buy that baby camel and provide a better life for him.
The problem was that Robb lived in a typical Florida luxury gated community….where having a camel as a pet wasn't going to happen.
Remember that friend who asked Robb to go the fair? He's a local polo player and entrepreneur who’s family owned a polo farm! Bingo! Lets bring the camel to the polo farm!
Long story short, long negotiation short, the camel was purchased and trailered away from the fair and brought to a farm to live among 30 or so polo ponies.
Okay, so a guy has a camel. Now what?
Robb’s wife Stephanie.....now the President of Camel Life, Inc. named the baby boy camel “Sheik”.
They bottle fed Sheik 3 times a day for the next 5 months, then twice a day for another few months…and then weaned Sheik off of milk and onto grain, hay, carrots, and other goodies.
The milk Sheik drank was a powdered goats milk concoction….because camel milk is very rare (more on that later).
A year later and Sheik grew from an 80 pound baby to a nearly 800 pound growing baby boy. During that first year (Sheik will be two years old in November, 2016), Robb began to research camels and discovered that camels milk had some amazing nutritional and medicinal properties.
So Robb decided “hey, maybe I should go buy more camels and start a camel dairy”.
The camel research shifted to hard core camel dairy research, telephone calls with camel farmers worldwide, trips to places like the United Arab Emirates, and lots of calculations to figure out the economics of camel milk.
Liquid Gold as its called, Camel Milk, has been consumed by bedouin, nomadic, and pastoral cultures since the domestication of camels thousands of years ago. Ancient cultures in the middle east have long ago understood the value of camel milk.
Camel milk is a more environmentally friendly than cows milk, as camel’s do not need the massive amounts of grazing area like goats and cows, thereby leaving the world a bit greener, and filled with less methane gas. For generations, camel milk has primarily been only for subsistence in those cultures, but given the undeniable health benefits of camel milk as compared to more traditional forms of milk, there has been a major increase in camel milk farming. However, it is extremely expensive to harvest camel milk, approximately fifty times more expensive than cow milk, which makes it considerably more expensive.
Lets understand the mechanics and economics of camel milk.
First- Camels need their babies with them in order to lactate and drop milk. The gestation period for a camel averages about 410 days (13-14 months), and a camel doesn't sexually mature until age 5. After the camel gives birth, she wont get pregnant for another 2-3 years. Also camels will average 2 gallons of milk production daily. Unlike a cow, a camel can decisively shut down milk production. Typically, once the camel starts dropping milk, the farmer has 90 seconds to squeeze out what they can.
This is in stark contrast to cows, who, after they give birth will produce milk regardless of where the calf is, and will produce about 8 gallons of milk per day for more than a year. Once they dry up (about a year later), they can become pregnant again…and produce a new calf every year. Hence, pretty much non-stop milk.
So, if you’re good at math you realize that producing camels milk is gigantically less efficient and much more costly than producing cows milk.
Lets talk about scarcity here in the USA. There are only about 3,000 dromedary camels in the USA. Of those, studies have shown that roughly 60 percent of them are male, of the remaining 1,200 or so female camels, more than 60 percent of those are in zoo’s, petting zoo’s traveling fairs and carnivals….and are not breeding. Less than 100 of the remaining 400 or so female camels even have the possibility of producing milk. So, if you had 50 female camels all producing milk at the same time, this would necessarily mean that you have at least 100 camels….because each mother needs her baby present in order to lactate. Several small, family farms in America are home to camels and many of those farmers (especially in Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan) currently milk their camels….typically 1-3 camels milking at a time. In fact, rumor has it that the Amish were the first Americans to milk camels. We can thank the Amish for their ingenuity and animal husbandry skills.
So, back to the story.
The folks at Camel Life decided they wanted to be in the business of camels but also decided that it would take many years to build out a productive stock of camels sufficient to produce the quantity of milk he desired. There isn't enough camel milk currently produced in all of America to supply the demands of Camel Life.
They decided to talk to people in the land of camels….the middle east. After conferring with Saudi’s, Pakistani’s, Emirati’s, and others, they decided to contract with a company in the United Arab Emirates to produce a line a camel milk soap, lip balm, shampoo, and other products under the brand name “Camel Life”.
In addition to award winning camel milk soap, Camel Life markets apparel products and will soon be marketing a line of organic, pure cosmetics and hair care products.
Last but not least, Camel Life is in the midst of completing an agreement to market camel milk in the USA.