Policy Level Initiatives are Needed for Camel Milk in Pakistan

Camels4Life…. Advocacy for camel keepers is the immense need of time. They should take on board while making policies for food and agriculture, especially about camels.camel for blog

When I started camel research in 2005, very little  information was available on the camel in Pakistan. Very few among the city dwellers were aware of the peculiarities of camel milk, especially milk. There we no information available as a separate entity on camel milk in government economic survey etc. Camel milk was considered as other milk than cow and buffalo.


The policy makers were completely blank about the camel and its role in Pakistan. I completed my research/thesis of Ph.D. on this unique animal and proved its value as a live animal, role of products and also role in culture and heritage. The camel is getting more and more importance. Pakistani camel is now well documented in breeds and their worth is well defined. Now there are many people who know about camel importance in the cities also. The camel herders already knew it since centuries. My article on a camel as unique and fascinating animal played a pivotal role in camel promotion.

Kohi Camel Caravan


Yesterday I visited a camel milk shop in Karachi. It was a great pleasure for me to see a shop with camel milk. The camel is the next superfood indeed and I’m glad that the general public awareness in this regard is increasing. I am so proud and confident of my voice as strong and loud. Superfood (Camel Milk) can Beat the Challenge of Superbug (Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics)

Camel, an incredible creature in difficult environment

English: Dromedary camel in outback Australia,...
English: Dromedary camel in outback Australia, near Silverton, NSW. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Camel, an incredible creature in difficult environment.

REGIONAL COOPERATION! An Approach for Camel Advocacy

Camel is a precious animal genetic resource of drylands and harsh ecosystems of the globe. The camel is highly adapted to the difficult and hostile environment of its habitat. It also produces precious products, especially milk in a very low or even zero input production system. Such ecosystems and low input production model are highly hostile to other domestic animals and difficult for survival, especially the exotic breeds.
Camel has a unique physiology enabling it to survive in such hostile conditions. Feed and water scarcity is the salient feature of the regional ecosystems, minimizing our choices for other livestock production. Such conditions enforce us to work on a camel and transform it into a good farm machine rather a beast of burden. We have rare opportunities and camel is the best choice to use as a tool to beat food security challenge in the climate change scenario. Camel! A One in All Creatures
The production traits are highly variable, especially milk production which ranges from 4 to 40 kg/day. The camel products – especially the milk – are unique and of high quality. The camel milk is now well accepted for its worth at international levels. Many efforts are underway to promote camel milk. Camel dairying is getting popularity and its products are highly demanded health and wellbeing.
More than 90% of the camel in the region are kept and reared by the pastoral communities. The production system is based on open grazing and mobile herding. Pastoral peoples and other camel keepers carry the entire burden of preserving the camel for the future. They face severe difficulties due to climate change, feed and water scarcity, restriction to grazing lands, faulty livestock policies and other man-made consequences. The number of camels is declining and camel breeds are at risk of extinction, especially in this region. Scientific work on the camel is often not connected to and relevant for the camel keepers.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. The regional (Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan) camel community (scientists, breeders, and policymakers) can work for joint projects. Camel association can be organized at national levels in each country and can fabricate a regional cooperation for camel development. Camel friends need to work together and share ideas and support each other. The message about the diversity and capacity of the camel can then reach the policymakers.
As a first attempt, a review committee to review camel productions and possibilities for future development is urgent and requires pooling of available data on the camel in a systematic and uniform manner. Such committee can work on the compilation of the work done already and can give the idea for future research and development on a camel.
Keywords: future, global, joint, policy, review, camel

The camel is a  food Security Animal in Climate Change Scenario

Camel is well in position to beat the challenge of food security in the climate change context. Camel produces milk and meat for human consumption. Camel meat is praised for its good quality, especially if it is derived from the calf. The major meat contents i.e. moisture, protein, fat, and ash are reported as 71, 21.4, 4.4 and 1.1% respectively (Kadim and Mahgoub, 2006). Camels are good potential meat producers especially in arid regions where other meat-producing animals do not thrive. Camel meat, especially from young animals, contains low fat with low cholesterol as well as being a good source of amino acids and minerals.

Many factors drive the slaughtering rate of the camel. Though camel meat is preferred in some countries, but not often slaughtered due to high prices and slow herd growth rate. Camel is mainly slaughtered on special occasions, like festival, wedding, mourning, physical damage to the animal, for preying and the arrival of guests (Mehari et al, 2007). But in recent times, the camel meat is attracted many people in the Middle East and the number of camel slaughtering is increasing. Such trend resulting in camel decline in the horn of Africa and Sub-continent.

Camel milk is the major and special product for human consumption. Camel was originally domesticated for milk following the move to use as a beast of a burden, especially for armies. (Raziq et al, 2008). Camel is no more the animal of the old world, but an animal which may be used to combat the growing desertification and to feed millions of people living in those areas. The camel produces in harsh and hostile conditions where another animal may not survive. A camel can provide 15-20 liters of milk per day for a lactation period of up to 18 months, making it a very good farm animal. Studies conducted in the horn of Africa revealed that the camel produced more milk than the other types of tropical animals compared on the basis of kg/TLU/year (Schwartz and Dioli, 1992).
Globally camel produces about 2 % of the world total milk and that milk is mostly produced by pastoral people and consumed locally (Raziq et al, 2008). The camel sustains its productivity in difficult conditions and comparatively lesser affected by the adverse factors like lack of feed, water, season and length of lactation (Raziq et al, 2011).Pashtoon nomads and camel

Production, pastoralism, and conservation
Camel production is still switched to nomadic and semi-nomadic people. Camel plays the role as the tool of survival in arid and semi-arid lands of the earth. Camel is crucial for the livelihood earning of such communities and ensure their food security. As a consequence of the climate change and drought, some cattle pastoralists substituted cattle with the camel to ensure the existence of the drought conditions. A new phenomenon of camel dairying is getting popularity and increases, though the growth is not appealing yet. The efforts of last decade like that in Mauritania (Tvisky), Kenya, India, and the UAE (Alain Dairy and Camelicious) are now following the newly camel dairying, especially in the Middle East.
Pastoralism safeguards conservation and development (evolution) of camel genetic resources in the world. The pastoral people developed and evolved specialized breeds of livestock for food and agriculture and camel is the one among them. Camel herders evolved the present day’s breed with the continuous selection for fitness and survival traits with the help of their indigenous knowledge in the long run of history. Such efforts resulted in the well-adapted genetic resources for food and agriculture, which can survive in harsh and hostile conditions (Köhler-Rollefson, 2005). Hence efforts for conservation and sustainable use of camel, the role of pastoral people cannot be neglected.Camel Barbering Sindh Pakistan

Regional cooperation
Camel can be the solution for many difficult questions, i.e. climate change, drought and food security, especially for the region like ours. Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are under the severe threat of many challenges like water and feed scarcity, climate calamities, deforestation etc. In such conditions, the importance of well-adapted livestock species like camel increases manifolds. Unfortunately, camel erosion is a challenge in the region. There are many reasons for this decline, all are manmade. Camel is being neglected in research and development sectors of the region and no integrated efforts had been made to address camel issues. The camel conference of Mashhad can be a milestone for a regional cooperation and development of camel R&D in the region. As a beginning, universities, research institutions, and breeders communities can initiate camel cooperation which can proceed at ministries levels in the days coming.
A committee of scientists can be organized here at the end of the conference to make a comprehensive report on the present situation of the camel in the region, i.e. population, breeds, trends, communities, utilities etc and also to review the research work already performed and published. The committee will point out the gaps in the research area and will suggest research work to the universities and institutions. The committee can collaborate with the international camelid organization, especially ISOCARD to ease its work and broaden the horizon of camel research and development.
We have announced an international camel conference in Pakistan next year under the patronage of the camel association of Pakistan (CAP). The committee may have a meeting at such occasion and can discuss its progress and future plans.


Camel can be a tool to combat desertification and to fight the calamities of climate change. Camel ensures food security in the arid ecosystems of our region. Unfortunately, camel is under threat and still neglected among the R & D sector of our national governments. A regional cooperation and coordination can be a silver lining in the cloud. Cooperation among the universities, camel herders, pastoralists and other stakeholders can bring cool breeze in the camel world of the region.


  1. Bengoumi M. and Faye B., 2002. Adaptation du dromadaire à la déshydratation. Sécheresse. 13 (2) 121-129.
  2. Bengoumi M., Riad F., Giry J., De La Farge F., Safwate A., Davicco M.J and Barlet J.P, 1993. Hormonal Control of Water and Sodium in Plasma and Urine of Camels during Dehydration and Rehydration. General and Comparative endocrinology. 89: 378-386.
  3. Hjört af Ornäs A . and M. Ali Hussein, 1993.Camel herd dynamics in southern Somalia: long term development and milk production implications. . In: A. Hjort af Ornäs (Ed.),The multipurpose camel: interdisciplinary studies on pastoral production in Somalia., EPOS, Uppsala University, Sweden, 31-42
  4. Kadim, I.T. and O. Mahgoub. 2006. Meat quality and composition of Longissimus thoracis from Arabian Camel (Camelus dromedaries) and Omani beef: A comparative study. In: First conference of the international society of Camelids research and development (ISOCARD) (pp. 118).
  5. Köhler-Rollefson, I. 2005a. Building an International Legal Framework on Animal Genetic Resources Can it help the drylands and food-insecure countries? LPP. http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/docs/int_legal_framework_an_gen_res.pdf
  6. Mehari, Y., Z. Mekuriaw and G. Gebru. 2007. Camel and camel product marketing in Babilie and Kebribeyah woredas of the Jijiga zone, Somali region, Ethiopia. Livestock Research for Rural Development 19 (4).
  7. Raziq A, M. Younas, M.S. Khan and I. Iqbal. 2011. Milk production potential as affected by parity and age of the Kohi dromedary camel. J. Camel Pract. Res. 17(2): 1-4.
  8. Raziq, A., M. Younas and M.A. Kakar. 2008. Camel~ A potential dairy animal in difficult environments. Pak. J. Agri. Sci. 45(2): 263-267.
  9. Schwartz, H.J. and M. Dioli. 1992. The one-humped Camel in Eastern Africa. A pictorial guide to diseases, health care and management. Verlag Josef Margraf, Scientific Books PO Box 105 D 6992, Weikersheim, FR Germany.
  10. Yagil R., 1993. Renal function and water metabolism in the dromedary. Moving Points in Nephrology Contrib. Nephrol. Basel, Karger. 102 :161-170.

Barela Camel is the Milk Line of Riverine Pakistan

The camel is a unique and special genetic resource and a great gift of the nature to ensure livelihood in difficult situations. Camel! A One in All Creatures. The camel keepers all over the world had evolved a certain type of camel for a specific purpose, i.e. walking ability, adaptation to the certain environment, milk production etc. The Barela camel was mainly evolved for milk and meat to ensure food availability in the dry and hot ecosystems of its habitat.

Barela camel
This camel is very beautiful and a real milk line of the Barela breed

Barela camel is another important camel breed of the riverine region of Pakistan, especially Punjab. Actually, Berela is the camel of long traveling camel breeders of the region. The originate their travel from Thal desert of Sindh and reach up to Cholistan desert. Barela camel is good milk producing an animal in Pakistan. Many Brela camels are exported to the Gulf region for milk. Some were exported to the Horn of Africa. The genes of the Barela camels are found in wide and far regions of the dryland of the world.CHOLISTAN (A Future Food Basket)


Some are darker than others. The darker type is better in milk than the light fawn

Barela camel is mostly reared in the Lesser Cholistan and on the fringe irrigated areas of district Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, and Rahim Yar Khan area. The Barela camels have heavy strong built and large body frame. The coat color varies from light sandy to dark brown with short coarse hair. Dark brown colored animals are preferred by local people.


Barela camels have a muscular body with dome-shaped head. The head is heavy, with a well-defined looking. The neck is medium sized with the marked curve. Eyes are bright, round with alert look and are protruding. Nose is thick, lips pendulous and ears are rounded and coarse.download

Shoulders are strong, broad and well set to the chest. Hump is very well developed in males and is placed in the center of the back. The chest pad is well developed and its touching ground evenly shows good confirmation. Legs are strong, bony, stout and well separated so that legs do not rub while walking. Hind legs are slightly weaker than forelegs and are inward curved. The foot pads are medium sized and soft. The milk vein is zigzag, wide and prominent. Milking capacity of the female camel is around 10 liters in an ordinary grazing system. The selected and well-fed animals can produce up to 35 kg of milk per day with a lactation yield of up to 12,000 kg.

Brela Breed Bull
Heavy and massive body.


Barela camel Herd

Beautiful Barela camel
A young camel herder with a Barela camel
A beautiful Barela camel with her family
She is the boss and the central force of the herd. She is the leader camel

Beautiful herd of Barela camel

Barela camel herd with different types of color and faces.
we can see a Marrecha camel with special ears in the Barela herd
The Barela camel Pastoralist,
Usually, they have very attractive and beautiful eyes

Barela camel pastoralist explaining the salient features of Barela camelA cropland farmer passes with a Barela camel herd

Barela camel
The heaviest and longest camels

Beautiful Barela camel

A big herd of Barela camel breed
The camel move in a big herd from place to place
Cholistan desert
Barela camel breeders
Cholistan camel breeds and pastoralists
An overnight stay of the Barela camel Pastoralists in Southern Punjab, the vicinity of the Cholistan desert

Barela camel herd but the first looking camel is more visible to Marrecha camelDSC_0495

These Breela camels won the milk competition in Punjab Pakistan
These Brela camels won the milk competition


Jathnasal or Redi Breed of Camel

In continuation of the previous blog.

Jathnasal or Raidi camel Breed

The habitat of Raidi breed is Kachhi basin ecological zone of the province. This breed is belonging to the mobile indigenous people of Jath community.  The breeding herds of Jathnasal breed are usually community owned and they share profit on the community basis. Jath community has very strongly woven and has a very effective social system. Jathnasal breed is mainly used for the earning of the livelihood. They use the camel for family needs and camel milk is the major and only protein source for the community. They either sell the male animal which is mainly used for carting in major cities or use the male animal for draft work and earn money. They use male and female camel both for luggage transportation with their families. The Jathnasal breed is presented in the figure.

Production systems and socioeconomic importance

The Jath community, according to their elders originated from the Great Indian Desert. They traveled with their camel in search of foliage for their camel and reach to the plains of South Balochistan (Kachhi basin). They had served the camel caravan of the pilgrim going to Makka and coming back to the Indian subcontinent. Actually the Jath settled some 300 years back in this region. They came in the region with the Brela camel breed of Cholistan area from Southern Punjab. The Pat region of Balochistan was then the cross road from India to Arabia. The pilgrims were using camel for transportation and the disabled and wounded animal were being kept with the Jath community while replacing them with energetic and healthy animals. From time to time the camel of Brela was then crossed with many breeds of the sub-continent and new breed came into being. Jaths have their own values and they never slaughter camel. They use camel milk for food and rarely eat flash.

They travel round the year from Jhal Magsi area of the region and travel up to the Bolan hills. They start their movement from Jhal Magsi and surrounding areas of Sind after grazing the aftermath of wheat crops and move towards the north to Bolan hills. They travel in a very wide area with very organized way. This camel belongs to the old indigenous people of Jath community and each tribe has their own sign of identification. They don’t keep any other animal except camel but the Asseel bird (chicken) as a game bird.

Image result for aseel bird chicken pakistan
Aseel Chicken


 Population size and trend

This breed of the camel has one of the largest camel populations of the province.  The population size reaches from 60,000-70,000. The trend of the camel is stable and there is apparently no threat to the breed.  Although, limiting grazing lands because of deforestation and introduction of the canal irrigation in the habitat are the hazards to this breed of camel.


Breeding goal

The breeding goals of the breeders are to produce large sized camel fit for long traveling and tolerant to the high ambient temperature of the region.  They select the vigorous male with large body size, long legs, and neck. The Jath do not consider the color of the breed. They also select the animal for long tests and more milk production to provide sufficient amount of milk to the newborn and also for the family. They also select the male with hard foot pad, to resist the spines of musket plant which is predominantly found in the region.


Special traits

v  Loyalty to the owner (Dalair)

v  Resistant to extremely hot weather of the region (up to 52 °C)

v  Resistant to diseases especially, pox and orf

v  Multi-characteristic because of the blood of many breeds

v  Resistant to foot rot because of the spine of musket

Phenotypic characteristics

The Jathnasal breed is highly diversified, having the blood of many breeds, i.e. Breela, Kohi, Sindhi, Marrecha, Thari or Sindh Desi and many other breeds. The color pattern is also diversified and there are many colors, i.e. Black ( Sawan), white (Aspaid), fawn (Sorebore), deep brown (Boor) and red (Lal) colors. The size of the breed is one of the largest in the province; the phenotypic characteristics are presented in table 5 and figure 3.

Reproductive and productive performance

The breeding season of this breed is December to January. Male is ready for breeding at the 4 years of age and female reaches to the time of mating at the age of 4 years. About 40 she-camels are normally bred by one bull camel. While the service period remains for 6 days and estrus cycle ranging from one week to 4 weeks. Calving interval is normally two years, depending upon the availability of foliage and lactation length. Average reproductive life of a female is about 25 years.  The details are presented in table 6.


Table  Biometric parameters of the Jathnasal breed (cm)

Body measurements Male Female Mean
Head Length 44 43 43.5
Head Width 20 20 20
Wither Height 187 185 186
Thoracic Girth 208 206 207
Abdominal Girth 263 272 267.5
Tail Length 52 50 51
Ear Length 12.5 13.5 13
Ear width 6 6 6
Neck Length 97 90 93.5
Rump Length 155 152 153.5
Estimated Weight (kg) 598 707 652.5

Table Reproductive and productive Traits of the Jathnasal Camel

No Traits Values
Male Female
1 Average birth Weight 60 kg 57 kg
2 Average weaning Weight* 180 kg 170 kg
5 Ready for workload 3 yr 3 yr
7 Use for heavy duty 7-8 yr
8 Age of puberty 4 yr 4 yr
9 Average work-life 25 yr
10 Average reproductive life 25 ye 25 yr
11 Conception rate out of herd 45-50 %
12 Gestation  period 375-386 day
13 Calving rate out of herd 40-45 %
14 Calving interval 2 yr
15 Average milk production 12 kg/day
16 Lactation length 8-11 month
17 Wool Production 2 kg

Marketing and future economic potential

The camel of Jathnasal breed catches very high prices from the camel carters (the person who drive the cart) of the towns and large cities of Sindh. The healthy male animal with good body figures catches a price up to 90, 000 Rupees. The camel herders do not sell the female animals. Jath community do not sell their fertile female camels because the camel is the only source of earning and they have no lands for cultivation. The milk is use to offer to the newborns and family use also.  The Jath community relies on the camel milk and they like it very much.