Camel is a multipurpose animal in Central Balochistan

Brahvi camel breed, the important breed of Central Balochistan

Livestock Breeds and its ecosystems in Balochistan

In continuation of the previous post, I start here with the camel. I shall discuss each breed of Balochistan in detail with the perspectives of the livestock keepers. Each breed of camel will be discussed in detail in other articles. This article will cover the Brahvi breed of the camel.

Brahvi camel herd grazing in its original habitat of Central Balochistan
Brahvi camel herd grazing in its original habitat of Central Balochistan

Introduction to Camels in Balochistan

Camel is the precious and important animal of the province. Camel is the most well-adapted livestock species, survives and produces in climatic extremes, and is well appreciated for its significance in the pastoral economy of the province. The camel is an important livestock species uniquely adapted to hot and arid environments, like in Balochistan, and therefore contributes significantly to the food security of the nomadic pastoral households. No doubt the automobile and machine transportation decreased its draught role, but it is still an important food animal and indigenous animal genetic resource. Camel is a hardy animal and has proved his worth in the long-prevailing droughts in Balochistan, remaining almost for 10 years (1994-2004).

Camel is a multipurpose animal in Central Balochistan
Camel is a multipurpose animal in Central Balochistan

The Drought Relief Commissioner’s data and other reports indicated that the drought has caused great damage to the livestock sector but a lesser number of camels was affected as compared to other livestock species proportionally. But unfortunately, less attention has been given to camel improvements for many years when planning national development.

Kohi camel drinking water from a pond near the Mangrota camel fair
Kohi camel drinking water from a pond near the Mangrota camel fair

The breeds of camel will be discussed in the ensuing paragraphs. There are 6 camel breeds in the province, and most of them were never characterized, documented, or discussed in the grey record of the country.

Brahvi Camel Breed of Central Balochistan

The Brahvi camel is well adapted to the arid, cold, and mountainous ecology of the central Brahvi highlands (CBH) of the province. Some herds of this breed may also be found in the northern parts of Sind province. Brahvi camel herders also migrate to the Kachhi basin region of the province in winter. So, the breed is also found in that area in winter.

A true specimen of the Brahvi camel breed
The important and unique camel breed of central Balochistan, the Brahvi camel

Production systems and socio-economic importance

The main production system of the Brahvi breed is transhumant, the system in which the pastoral people move with their livestock according to the agriculture operations and foliage availability.  Some of the camel herders of the region move with their camel on fixed routes and fix the time of the year. Such a system is nomadic, the pastoral people of this production system reach the northern part of Sindh province and some to the Kachhi basin in winter.  Very rare camel herders practice the sedentary way of production. Only male camels for work are reared in a sedentary way.

The Black color is the favourite color among the Brahvi camel herders
The Black color is the favorite color among the Brahvi camel herders

Brahvi camel is important for the socio-economic life of the herders of central Brahvi highlands.  It provides draught power for family shifting, agriculture operations, and other uses.  Though the Brahvi camel produces a lesser amount of milk compared to other breeds of the province but still provides milk for family use in a dry period when the vegetation is not available and goat and sheep milk ceased. The wool is used for making rugs and tents. Usually, the herders do not slaughter the camel but only the sick and injured ones.  The camel catches high prices because of the smuggling to Iran but this sort of business is also a threat to the camel because of the slaughter of female fertile animals.

The Brahvi camel breed is equally good and adapted to the highlands and valleys
The Brahvi breed is equally good and adapted to the highlands and valleys

Population size and trend

The population size of the camel ranges from 5,000 to 7,000. The number of this breed is going downward. The main threats to the breed are the removal of vegetation cover, change in agronomic practices, social changes, and illegal smuggling to Iran.

Breeding goal

The major breeding goal of the Brahvi camel herders is to produce camels with good bagging and packing ability and adapted to the cold mountainous ecology of its habitat. The male is selected for breeding and the one with a coarse and dense wooly coat, deep brown darkish color, and a wide chest is always preferred. The male with a vigorous body, round hard foot, and wide cannon bone is the choice of the breeders.

Special traits

  • The major special traits the breeders know are as follows
  • Well-adaptation to arid and cold environments
  • Withstand water scarcity more than other breeds of camel (two weeks)
  • Good in learning commands of the owner (Dlair)

 Phenotypic characteristics

Brahvi camel is smaller in size with comparatively shorter legs but has wide chests making it a suitable animal for work in the mountains. The Brahvi camel has a great density of long woolly coat which is so dense that it is difficult to pass a finger through it. The hind quarter is massive and strong. The body color is dark to fawn. But grey color with some specimens of the white color is also found.  The salient body measurements are given in table 1.

The Brahvi camel breed relies mainly on the bush Alhagi maurorum (camel thorn)
The Brahvi camel breed relies mainly on the bush Alhagi maurorum (camel thorn).

Table 1. Biometric parameters of the Brahvi breed (cm)

Body measurements

Male

Female

Mean

Head Length

39.48

39.19

39.25

Head Width

20.14

19.75

19.87

Wither Height

166

164

165

Thoracic Girth

175

173

174

Abdominal Girth

212

236

224

Tail Length

49

47

48

Ear Length

12

12

12

Ear width

7

7

7

Neck Length

92

90

91

Rump Length

142

140

141

Estimated Weight

307

334

320.5

 Table 2.  Reproductive and productive Traits of the Brahvi breed

No

Traits

Values

Male

Female

1 Average birth Weight

48 kg

46 kg

2 Average weaning Weight*

160 kg

150 kg

3 Ready for workload

3 yr

3 yr

4 Use for heavy-duty

7-8 yr

Not used for heavy duty

5 Age of puberty

4 yr

3 yr

6 Average work-life

25 yr

7 Average reproductive life

20 ye

20 yr

8 Conception rate out of the herd

40-50 %

9 Gestation  period

375-386 day

10 Calving rate out of the herd

40-45 %

11 Calving interval

2 yr

12 Average milk production

7 kg/day

13 Lactation length

8-11 month

14 Wool Production

3.5  kg

Reproductive and productive performance

The maturity in males and females is 4 and 3 years respectively. One bull camel is sufficient to breed 50 cow camels. The service period is 6 days and the estrus cycle ranges from 1-4 weeks. The conceived she-camel changes her behavior on the 6th day of service and shows a different behavior of erecting her tail when an animal or a person comes near to her. The calving interval is normally two years, depending upon the availability of foliage and lactation length. The average reproductive life of a female is about 20 years. The conception rate of the camel is higher with an appreciable calving percentage and rare abortions. The salient features of the breed are given in table 2.

Brahvi camel is a docile and friendly in nature
Brahvi camel is docile and friendly in nature

Marketing and future economic potential (Conclusion)

In the present marketing scenario, the camel is mostly shifted to Iran by illegal means. The camel catches high prices there and the meat is highly preferred over there. As the camel produces a lesser amount of milk, hence not fit for the future milk industry. The future of the camel is very bright for its delicious juicy meat.

Brahvi camel is a very good riding and transport animal
Brahvi camel is a very good riding and transport animal

Personal Communication

While working with the Majaheem camels in UAE, I have a strong view that the Brahvi camel is the offshoot of the Majaheem breed of camel. The Majaheem breed is found in KSA and is very good for milk though the animal is comparatively harsher in behavior.

A beautiful herd of Brahvi camel breed in Central Balochistan

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