Tag Archives: ISOCARD

Dairy Camel ~ Transforming from Desert Ecosystem to Modern Farming

The old world camels (Dromedary and Bactrian) are well adapted to the harsh (both cold extreme and hot extreme) and hostile (deserts with scarce water and feed availability) ecosystems of the northern hemisphere of the globe. The centuries-long evolution and adaptation (selection for traits of choice by pastoralists) process made it unique and highly resilient animal to the calamities of its ecosystems. The pastoralists (traditional Institutions) managed and validated precious indigenous knowledge of camel husbandry, behavior, welfare, products development & management, breeding & neonatal care, health and recreation in the course of history while facing many challenges. The camel was mainly used in that period (pre-historic to the automobile) as a beast of burden (wars, pastoral transportation, desert accessibility etc), while milk, meat, and other products were used as by-products (additional asset).

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The onset of automobile industry replaced (the intensity increased with the modernization and abundance of the automobile) the role of the camel as the beast of burden. This evolution resulted from camel to turn to its original task ~ The Milk. The thin/ smart and light camel types (mostly from desert) desert were selected for racing and riding. Camel racing – (a multi-million dollar industry in the Middle East) evolved and a set of racing norms along with rules and regulations came into being. Today UAE is home to this joyful sport and camel with racing traits are attracting million of AED annually.

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The heavy camel with clear body confirmation, well-confirmed udder, milk vein etc is selected for milk production and use as dairy animals. Again a modern dairy industry is co-evolving towards a modern camel dairy in the Middle East. As camels have roots in Arab culture, both types of camel activities (racing and dairying) are developed and established in this region with the dry ecosystem.  I really do not know about the challenges being faced by the racing industry, the hurdles in the dairy industry are much obvious and easy to establish. Selection for dairy traits (its heritability) is still a dream in the emerging industry. The breeding goals for this purpose are not yet established and practice.

This shift from the old to modern camel agriculture resulted in many challenges. One of the main constraints of the modern (confined dairying) is the intensive environment (housing, feeding, milking and breeding etc) which bring many hurdles like fatigue/weakness, craving/weakness, mastitis and welfare, infertility etc. Selection for body/udder confirmation is hardly practiced while selecting/buying a camel for a dairy purpose which leads to difficulties in milking and handling in the modern milking parlor.5636501.jpg

Camel feeding is another constraint, especially in confinement. The Scientific approach is seldom practiced in this regard. In most of the cases Alfalfa or another type of hays along with some TMR and mineral mixture. I think the camel needs more (some unidentified fectors~as camel have special physiology) as camel had evolved with the unique feed requirements. Author documented more than 50 plant species as like/feed by camel in free-roaming feeding system of Suleiman Mountainous Region of Pakistan. Narrowing the diversity of feed items may cause/enhance the issues like fatigue, mastitis, and fever etc. Camel nutrition (dairy) is the utmost need issue and need further scientific research and practice.

The combination of narrowing diversity of feed items, confinement and stress (parlor along with the intensity of treatment) invite complex ailment situation which affects both the animal itself and probably the products consumers. Such challenges need to be addressed technically and scientifically with the course of time. A strange and painful factor (hiding experience) has been noticed among the camel dairy technical practitioners as they avoid to share knowledge. Some technical personnel and scientists do not want to share their experience and knowledge to keep their position strong and important.  Institutional support is lacking and research institutes prioritize cow dairy and other fields (with more research articles and subject material). University level subjects related to the camel and its modern role must be incorporated for the students of the region. Institutional support in all aspect of modern camel farming is the pivotal part of camel development. The author has suggested a scientific session on modern camel dairying and its challenges in the next ISOCARD conference (2015 Kazakhstan).

Camel Milk Competition in Cholistan

Camel milk competition concluded last evening here in Cholistan desert (of Pakistan). It was quite interesting in many ways and I felt that at least I should share some of its salient features. It started on 12th October and concluded on 14th. Some 40 camels (locally called Dachis) contested and some owners had more than one. All animals were towards the end of their lactation. The size of the calf also matched with this narration. First thing was that it was not the best time for such competitions because camels generally calve in Jan/Feb/March and better time could have been April/May.Barela Camel is the Milk Line of Riverine Pakistan
 These Breela camels won the milk competition in Punjab Pakistan
The participants were not just the men and grownup boys as happens with our cattle/buffalo competitions in March every year. Rather families were there. Milkers combinations were man and wife or man and daughter or mother and daughter or mother and son etc. It was heartening to see these lively families. Amma Pathani (Mom Pathani) was very prominent. She contested like other men and forced even me (the chief judge) to announce results of every camel first in the local dialect, then in local language and then in national language as it was difficult for her (and other contestants, mostly unable to read or write) to wait for more than few seconds. So I had to round things for announcing and remain precise on paper. Her camel got 4th position and was given a special prize. Milk yield (once a day milking, recorded for two days) for 1st, 2nd and 3rd position camels was 17.1 (Bawali), 15.7 (Katti) and 15.1 (Malookan.  I wonder if they could produce at this level in 9-10th months of their lactation what would be the yield in the 2nd month after calving. We will see next year.
 Another important yet expected information was that most of these animals were 2nd and 3rd calvers with some 1st calvers and very few in later parities. Most belonged to either Barela (the dairy breed) or a cross between Barela and Marecha (the racing and dancing breed). Very few were Sindhi or crossbred Sindhis.
Camel dances at the event were worth watching. We had to walk on sand (with camels on our back) about 2 km to the prize distribution ceremony and dances continued. People seemed drunk with camel milk as they did not stop for a second. Age was not a limiting factor. It ranged from ~4 to >80.
 An important announcement is that next year’s camel milk and dance competitions will coincide (conclude) with the camel day, 22nd June. As announced previously, camel conference is planned next year at Bahawalpur and site of milk competition is just 35 km from the city.
Camels from Pakistan are going to Gulf and even to France (for camel milk chocolate) but without a proper breeding and replacement system, my fear is that sustainability issue will haunt in future. Exploitation of camel herders is also feared. Thanks to all those who kept encouraging and were even trying to see everything through sound waves. We will try to post on this discussion forum as the next year events unfold. Few photos are placed. More photos with videos will be posted on http://fangrpk.org.
Reported by
Dr. M. Sajjad Khan
Professor/National Project Director
Dept. Animal Breeding and Genetics
University of Agriculture Faisalabad 38040
PAKISTAN

 

A concept note for camel development

It is a real time pleasure that camel is receiving attention of the scientists more than ever. I hope the belongings will change in camel’s favor soon. From this end of the world, I would like to say that everything, each entity, organization and camel stake holder is important. Our basic theme must be inclusive but not exclusive. We should take on board all the stake holders for a global camel initiative. CARDN, IFAD, ISOCARD, Tvisky etc, everyone is important and playing important role.
Also about ideas of work, yeah, there is still need to work on each issue of camel. There are many people, scientists, workers in this world who are working on camel. Camel’s people are really devoted and already working in hard conditions. We have good human resource, so let’s work on all issues and correlate them all. Everything to be done is important; all are interwoven and correlated issues. In many areas of the world, there is high demand for camel products, esp camel milk but there is no good information system on the availability of milk and other products. In some area camel milk is available but marketing is poor. In some institutes, scientific publications are available but not extended to the stake holders. In some areas farms are available but the data is either not published or published at very local levels. Also, we really do not know about the sanctuaries, movement, population, breeds trends & status and production potential (quantitative traits) etc of camel. Some new diseases also threatened camel production and health in the recent time. Also gene level studies are important to know the real potential etc. There is also need to study camel in the climate change context. In Africa some pastoral communities are shifting from cattle pastoralism to camel pastoralism because cattle is the most prone to droughts. There are many global camel issues, like Australia is going to kill camel is carbon credit. Such problems are political also. The same camel can be use as food aid for the African continent and the recent drought stricken populace in Somalia and part of Kenya. Also camel work needs to be link with the pastoralism and dry land environment.
To materialize all the above ideas, funding is also very important. Funding is not an easy task especially these days because of economies crisis everywhere. Also, as an ice breaking a meeting of the organizations, scientists, representative from camel communities, funding agencies is also important. ISOCARD is going to have a camel conference at the junction of 2011-2011 in Oman. That is very good opportunity to participate and have a 1 day satellite meeting at the end of the conference. I wish if the ISOCARD authorities invite funding agencies and the other above said stake holders and have joint declaration on camel. ISOCARD is publishing a journal on camel and already conducted two camel conferences at global level, i.e. in Alain and Djerba, Tunisia. The journal of camel practice and research (JCPR), is another good source of data on camel.
FAO is also a good source of information on camel. Many publications of FAO on camel are available. The FAO funding on the application of global plan of action on animal genetic resources can also be helpful but only the governments can send the proposals against such FAO funding. FAO can appreciate governments to have camel projects.
Now, please walk for a concrete goal. Dr Aziz from KSA said, he can help in arranging findings or at least I understood that from his email. I am available for a joint camel work.