Beginners’ Guide About Camels
The camel belongs to the camelid family of mammals among the order of Artiodactyls and to the sub-order of tylopoda (animals with padded feet).
It is difficult to exactly determine the number of camels in the world;
- Camels are mainly an animal of nomadic people and pastoralists who are moving frequently.
- They also are not usually subjected to obligatory vaccination.
Camel farming systems are found all over the country, but only a small space is devoted to camel rearing in sub-arid countries.
They are known to be feral and with the ability to form a close bond with humans has enabled people to domesticate them (they are emotional animals). Camels are known to be smarter than horses though they can stubborn at times.
Dromedary (Arabian) and Bactrian camels are present in almost all the arid lands of the old world except in Southern Africa; however, they are difficult to manage in cool and wet environments.
The camel breeds are identified and classified with different names according to the countries the camel are habitats.
Habitation And Adaptations Of Camels
Camels are well adapted for survival in the desert. They adapt in hot climates through; with their large, flat feet to spread their weight on the sand when they walk and standing; the thick fur on the top of the body for shade and keeping warm at night; thin fur elsewhere to allow heat loss.
They are able to go for a long time without water because they lose little water when urinating and perspiration.
They can survive without water for 15 days but when they have access to it, they consume 113 litres of water in a period of 13 minutes.
There is fat stored in the hump(s) and they release a certain percentage of fat and water for energy.
Their bodies can tolerate temperatures of up to 42 degrees Celsius. They are adapted to life in a hot climate as deserts are hot dry places with habitat that is adapted to the desert conditions.
Their slit-like nostrils can shut when there is a sandstorm and two rows of eyelashes help to keep out sand of their eyes during sandstorms.
Camel’s oestrus cycle takes about 13 to 40 days and the receptive in the process last between three to four days. The gestation period is between 360 to 440 days which will result in one or two offspring.
The camel can birth one or two offspring every two years but having more than one offspring is rare. The camel calves walk within 30 minutes after birth.
Note: Dromedary camel gestation is 15 months and Bactrian camel, theirs is 13 months.
Camel farming inception can be done with a manageable number of camels and there should be a provision for feed; camels will not be feral hence posing a threat to indigenous communities.
For example; a herd of 40 camel breeders (2 males and 38 females) purchased and raised in conventional farming system can have the breeder herd give birth to 27 camel calves every two years based on assumption.
The female calves would be retained for milk and breeding purpose, while the male camels would be raised on the farm for 2 years and then sold into the local market.
Small Scale Farmer Benefits From Camel Rearing
Camel farming is beneficial especially at family levels because they can have dairy production and the camel products.
It is necessary to have proper feed for your animals because under grazed camels will produce thin salty milk; hence it is important to supply supplementary feed to have a good milk yield.
The milk from the camel cow would be sold directly to consumers or processing companies. Camel cows would produce approximately 4500 litres of milk for a year.
Camels are not only ‘ship of the desert animals’ but are also productive animals able to be involved in intensification processes and in consequence, in modern farming systems.
How To Raise Camels They are considered to have a future even in notably climate changes because their adaptability will not deter their production levels.
Camels are able to produce milk, meat and wool in very harsh conditions with a high added value for the producers and interesting dietetic and nutritive properties for the consumers.
Traits Of A Camel
A camel is better as riding animal than horse because they are quieter and gentler. Camels can carry more weight than horses; the long muscular legs allow camels to cover great distances because they can walk up to 40 km per day with 200 to 300 kg of baggage, so riding a camel is quiet and peaceful.
However, there are some instances whereby can stretch more number of days without water (20 – 40 days); though after 40 days the camel goes blind due to excessive dehydration.
There are dangers of death in camels when 10 percentage of live body is lost through dehydration.
In other countries camels are classified as;
Riding camel – have strong, sturdy, having thinner legs and their muscles are comparatively less developed.
Baggage camel – are heavier, hence are suitable for the plains and other hilly areas, with sturdy musculature of legs.
Brief Description On Camels (Domesticated Breed)
The camel breeds can be described as follows;
- Dromedary – these camels grow up to 2 metres (6.5 feet) tall with a weight of between 400 to 600 kg (880 – 1,325 pounds). They are single humped.
- Bactrian – are doubled humped camels with a height of 1.8 metres (6 feet) and they weigh between 600 to 1,000 kg (1,320 – 2,200 pounds) when they are fully grown.
- They exhibit different shades of colour but all this is determined by their environment and these colours are; blackish brown changing to light brown then finally turning fawn.
- The Dromedaries can store 80 percent fat in their humps and can travel for 40 km with a load on it weighing a maximum of about 454 kg (1,000 pounds).
- Milking season in camels is usually from October to March depending on the lactation period.