|Hendrix brings camels, reindeer to the plains|
|Written by Kyle Arnoldy|
When farm animals come up in conversation, camels and reindeer are rarely the first ones thought of by residents of northeastern Colorado. But with growing numbers, Kyle Hendrix is building a herd of exotic animals just south of Holyoke.
Reindeer first caught the eye of a young Hendrix. As early as 10 years old, he was intrigued by the foreign creature. After reading an article in a magazine about the animal, Hendrix was inspired to join the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association. Sixteen years later, Hendrix owns five reindeer.
Owning the animals has been especially rewarding during the holiday season. In the winter Hendrix and the reindeer take part in exhibits where the reindeer are used for Christmas celebrations. Last year he was involved in 10 shows between Thanksgiving and Christmas, including Holyoke’s Country Christmas. He is hoping to double the number of shows he attends this year.
The Hendrix reindeer herd grew by one over the weekend as Bell gave birth to the baby reindeer early
“It’s really a lot of fun when you take out the reindeer for Christmas exhibits,” Hendrix said. “Just to see the look on people’s faces and the smiles of the kids. We can barely get the reindeer off of the trailer without people crowding around.”
One thing that has surprised Hendrix since he first acquired reindeer three years ago is the fact that many adults thought reindeer were strictly a fictitious creature made up for Christmas stories.
The plan is to grow the herd size to 30-40 and begin selling offspring every year. Hendrix welcomed the most recent reindeer addition Sunday, June 9 at 2:30 a.m.
Just nine hours earlier, Hendrix was busy with his most recent side project. Saturday around 5 p.m., Dodger the camel was born, bringing the total amount of camels Hendrix owns to seven.
After visiting a buddy in Oklahoma who owned and bred camels, Hendrix decided it was time to bring another uncommon animal to the area.
“I just thought it was a unique deal and something that I wanted to do,” Hendrix explained.
Kyle Hendrix shows off his dromedary camels. Dodger, at right, was born Saturday, June 8 to Sasha,
While the reindeer were more of a personal interest to Hendrix, camels offered more of a financial opportunity. Within the last year, the sale of camel milk in grocery stores throughout the U.S. has been approved by the FDA. The milk can also be used to make bars of soap, and the Hendrix family plans to explore both routes.
Having spent some time working in the dairy industry, Hendrix quickly grew fond of the business and is excited about the possibilities camel milk has to offer.
It will be a few years before he will begin the process of selling the milk. First, he would have to get a dairy license and then build a small grade A licensed dairy plant to pasteurize, bottle and freeze the product before shipping it nationwide. According to Hendrix, his will be the first camel dairy in Colorado.
A gallon of the milk can sell for as much as $80 as the cost of production of camel’s milk tends to be considerably higher than that of producing cow’s milk. Known as the “white gold of the desert,” camel milk is said to offer many benefits and even healing properties
Camel milk is closer to human milk than any other milk and has properties that have been studied for their medical benefits. Aside from being a good source of health vitamins and minerals, camel’s milk is a rich source of insulin, making it ideal for diabetics. It has also been used to treat many ailments including improving autism symptoms.
Camel milk in beauty products and soap is said to lessen dermatitis symptoms, assist in reducing signs of aging and is an effective cleaner.
Hendrix said the production of camel’s milk soap could begin in the next couple of weeks. Although his wife Holly initially thought the idea of owning camels was a bit weird, Hendrix said she is on board as the reindeer and camels have become a family side project with Kyle, Holly and their two sons Evan and Asher.
The camels will also have a role with the reindeer during the winter as they can be included in any Christmas exhibit. Camel rides would be an attraction at any Christmas event. Once Hendrix is able to build the herd, he would like to begin leasing the animals out for more weekend events during the holidays.
Times have been busy for the Hendrix family. They are in the process of moving and in the beginning stages of the camel milk business, not to mention Kyle’s work with his father to maintain and operate the 500-600 count beef cow operation and the 3,000 head feed yard. When life settles down a bit, they plan to create a website for the purpose of selling first the soap and then the milk when they are ready.
As far as handling the exotic animals, Hendrix said the time has been a learning experience.
“Camels are completely backwards compared to working with other animals,” Hendrix said. “You have to be patient because they are just a trick.”
He noted that he enjoys the camels because they are very personable. They want to be petted and they want to show their affection.
Holyoke Enterprise June 13, 2013