The World’s Leading Milk Camel~The Kharani Breed

The world's leading milch camel~The Kharani

Kharani camel is found in the Chaghai-Kharan desert of Balochistan Pakistan. One of the best milch animal in the world. This breed is the most efficient (producing more milk per kg dry matter feed intake) and survives sustainable in the challenging environment. There is high variability within the breed for milk production. In the wet days of the year, when there is succulent vegetation, some specimen of the breed produce up to 38 liters of milk per day.

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Unfortunately, this breed is under severe threat. The main cause of erosion is the depletion of Thagaz (Halloxylon spp) which is the most important feedstuff for camels in the region. Also, there is illegal export to Iran, where it is slaughtered and erosion of this unique animal genetic resources is happening since years. The policy makers of Pakistan should take steps to conserve this precious animal with the involvement of the camels’ keepers.

Kohi Camel Breed of Suleiman Mountainous Region

Kohi

Kohi camel is predominantly found in Suleiman mountainous region of Balochistan, Pashtoonkhua and Punjab provinces of the country. Some specimens are also found in the Paktia province of Afghanistan. But 70% of the breed is found in the Balochistan province.

 Production systems and socioeconomic importance

There are three major camel production systems in this region viz; nomadic, transhumant or semi-nomadic and sedentary. Socio-economic importance of camel is closely associated with existed production systems. These systems are largely determined by climatic conditions, a topography of the land, plant growth phenology, water sources, etc. As the camels are always on the move, they hardly spend more than one month at one place.

The Kohi camel plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic activities of the region. It is used in the high mountains of Suleiman mountainous series for the transportation of various items. The animal is well fit for work in that hilly land and the broad wide cannon bone make it well to do in that habitat. Camel is also used for the pastoral migration and milk production. Mangrota camel fair is one of the largest camel’s socioeconomic and cultural activities of the camel herders of Kohi breed. The herders manage camel movement and migration pattern according to the onset of the fair. 

Population size and trend

The Kohi camel breed is one of the major camel breeds in the country. This breed is found in the other provinces of the country also. The estimated number of this breed in Balochistan province is almost 70,000 head. This breed still has the importance for transportation and milk are the byproducts, nevertheless, it produces an average of 10 liters of milk per day. The breed is growing and there is no threat to the population of Kohi camel, though the ecosystem of the breed is under threat.

 

Breeding goal of the breed

One of the major breeding goals is the production of vigorous and compact animal for work in the mountainous region. The breeders select usually male camel and there is no choice for female. All the females are being bred, as the breeders believe that male animal play role in the breeding of the camel. Milk production is the second major breeding goal because more milk is the security for the healthier calves and ultimately production of the vigorous camel. The other traits of selection are the white color, beautiful muzzle, curly wool, strong wide cannon bone and wide chest.

Special traits of the breed

  • Compact body, strong hindquarter, wide cannon bones and strong foot pad making it specially fit for mountainous ecology
  • Survival in cold weather without housing
  • Browsing in the small area when vegetation is available (easy care and accessible)
  • White nails and yellowish eye color
  • More weight per unit body area (Compact)
  • Highly resistant to diseases locally called as syed
  • Its white color is the phenotypic marker for more milk yield
  • The animal is very loyal and loving to the owners

 Phenotypic characteristics

The Kohi camel is predominantly white in coat color but some animals locally are known as Spole color (light brown with white legs) are also found. The Kohi camel has white nailed either it is white or Spole coat color.  The animal has a compact body, wide cannon bone, big beefy head and short neck. The herders believe that the white color of Kohi camel produces more milk than Spole (brown body white forelegs) animal and a part of this study proved it valid. The phenotypic characteristics of the breed are presented in table 9.

 

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The 2 lines of Kohi camel, the white Kohi and the Spole Kohi

 

Reproductive and productive performance

The male is ready for breeding at the 4 years of age and female reaches to the time of mating at the age of 3 years. About 50 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. The conceived she-camel changes her behavior on the 6th day of service and shows a different behavior as erecting her tail when an animal or a person comes near to her. Calving interval is normally two years, depending upon the availability of foliage and lactation length. Average reproductive life of a female is about 20 years. Conception rate of a camel is higher with appreciable calving percentage and rare abortion. A weight of the calf at the birth is almost 35-45 kg, depending upon the sex, nutritional and health status of the dam. Weaning weight at (9 months) is about 155-180 kg. The reproductive and productive characteristics of the Kohi camel.

 

Table Biometric parameters of the Kohi breed

Body measurements Male Female Mean
Head length 42.23 34.16 38.20
Head width 22.60 20 21.3
w.H 176.61 176.13 176.37
T.G 206 207.86 206.93
A.G 234.15 241.5 237.825
TL 50.88 48.10 49.49
EL 12.04 11.77 11.905
EW 6.63 6.99 6.81
NL 88.85 86.18 87.515
BL 140 141.25 140.63
Est. wt 440.69 439.30 439.995

Table Reproductive and productive and traits of the Kohi Camel

No Traits Values
Male Female
1 Average birth Weight 32 – 40 kg 31 – 40 kg
2 Average weaning Weight* 160 – 185 kg 155 – 180 kg
5 Ready for workload 3 yr 3 yr
7 Use for heavy duty 7-8 yr
8 Age of puberty 4 yr 3 yr
9 Average work-life 25 yr
10 Average reproductive life 25 ye 21 yr
11 Conception rate out of herd 50-53%
12 Gestation  period 375-386 day
13 Calving rate out of herd 45-50%
14 Calving interval 2 yr
15 Average milk production 10.7 kg/day
16 Lactation length 8-11 month
17 Wool Production 2.5 kg

Marketing and future economic potential

The animals are grazing in uplands of Suleiman region since March to the end of the September and after that, the animals who ready for sale are moved to the (male) fair of Mangrota, while rest of the animals are moved to the lowlands of Suleiman region and the adjoining areas of Sibi region, where they spend the autumn and winter season. Mangrota animal fair is the biggest of the area and the biggest sale point for the Camels.

The Kohi camel has very good economic potential in future. The camel meat has good taste because of the nature of the vegetation browsed. The Kohi meat is already famous in the pastoral families and has very good potential for export.

Kharani Camel Breed of Chaghai-Kharan Desert

Kharani camel

Kharani camel is found in the desert ecosystem of the Chaghai Kharan desert ecological zone. Kharani camel is one of the important camel breed, well adapted to desert ecosystem and play a pivotal role in the socio-economic and socio-cultural life of the pastoral people of that region. The breed has very deep roots in the culture of the Baloch tribes.

Production systems and socioeconomic importance

The majority of the herds of camel are owned by nomadic and semi-nomadic herders. In winter time the nomadic and semi-nomadic owners migrate towards the east, up to Bolan area of the province. After the rainy season of moon soon in July and August, abundant vegetation is available there. The small farmers are mostly sedentary owners provide supplementation in the winter season because of the low or even no vegetation availability in the region.

Kharani camel is one of the best milk producers in the world and produces up to 40 liters of milk per day. The milk is widely used in the region and therefore having high consumer preference. The milk is being used fresh, soured (Sorain) and added in tea. Sorain is highly preferred and can be stored for up to one week without refrigeration. The same methodology is used in the countries of Central Asia and the product is known as camel Vodka locally.

Population size and trend

The population size estimated ranges from 9000 to 13000 and there is a speedy decline in the population. There are many factors responsible for this sad state of the situation, i.e. illegal export to Iran both male and female animals, a threat to the ecosystem of Kharani breed because of the deforestation and some herders now practice cross-breeding to produce Rodbari camel which is a good race animal in the desert. Such crossbred animal is highly liked by the smugglers which are being used for drug trafficking in the triangle of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

Breeding goal of the breed

The main breeding goal of the Kharani camel breeders is to produce camel with high milk yield. The second major breeding goal is to produce camel well adapted to the desert ecosystem. The male camel is selected for breeding with the characteristics of higher milk, adaptation in the desert ecosystem, boor or fawn color. Curly wool and hanging muzzle. The camel is medium in size with long black eyelashes. Long legs, neck, and oval foot pads are the salient feature of the breed. There are two special traits of the breed, i.e. milk production ability, drought resistant and hardy against the high ambient temperature of the deserted ecosystem.

Table Biometric parameters of Kharani breed (cm)

Body measurements Male Female Mean
Head length 40 39 39.50
Head width 20 19.50 19.25
Weather height 175 175.5 19.75
Thoracic girth 197 202 175.25
Abdominal girth 231 250.7 199.5
Tail length 60 54.7 240.85
Ear length 11 11 57.35
Ear width 6.5 6.7 11
Neck length 90 96.2 6.6
Rump length 143.5 146.9 93.1
Estimated weight 398 444 145.2

Table Reproductive and productive traits of the Kharani Camel

No Traits Values
Male Female
1 Average birth Weight 30-40 kg 31 – 35 kg
2 Average weaning Weight* 165-180 kg. 155 – 180 kg
5 Ready for workload 3 yr 3 yr
7 Use for heavy duty 7-8 yr
8 Age of puberty 4 yr 2.5-3 yr
9 Average work-life 25 yr
10 Average reproductive life 25 ye 21 yr
11 Conception rate out of herd 50-53%
12 Gestation  period 375-386 day
13 Calving rate out of herd 45-50%
14 Calving interval 2 yr
15 Average milk production 17 kg/day
16 Lactation length 10-12 month
17 Wool Production 2 kg

Special traits of the breed

v  High milk yield in the hostile desert conditions

v  Resistant to trypanosomiasis.

v  Highly drought tolerant

 Phenotypic characteristics

Except for some non-descript camel majority of the camel, a population is composed of the Kharani breed. The name of this breed is derived from the famous Kharan desert. This breed is also called as Boor locally because of its color (Fawn) as presented in the figure. There are many color patterns in the Kharani camel. The pastoral people know the importance of the color of a breed and correlate it with the specific trait. The colors are fawn, red brown, white and yellow. Phenotypic characteristics are given in a table.

Reproductive and productive performance

The male is ready for breeding at the 4 years of age and female reaches to the time of mating at the age of 2.5-3 years. While the service period remains for 6 days and estrus cycle ranging from one week to 4 weeks. Calving interval is normally two years and average reproductive life of a female is about 20 years. A weight of the calf at the birth is almost 30-40 kg, depending upon the sex, nutritional and health status of the dam. Weaning weight at (12 months) is about 165-180 kg. The reproductive performance of the Kharani camel is presented in table 10.

Marketing and future economic potential

The respondents stated that the animals are sold in the local market of the town and rarely sell locally. The owners are really wise and had almost eliminated the role of middleman. Though, the town merchant and butcher don’t pay good prices to the owners. Some smugglers buy local livestock at cheap prices and smuggle it to Iran and earn handsome money. The high milk yield is one of the best economic potentials of this breed.