Policy Level Initiatives are Needed for Camel Milk in Pakistan


Camels4Life International

Advocacy for camel keepers, policymakers, traders, consumers, etc is the immense need of time. all the stakeholders should be taken on board while making policies for food and agriculture, especially regarding camels and related aspects. Camel milk is attracting the attention of people at the global level because of many reasons, the main reasons are the climate and health sensitivity. 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 surveys etc. Camel milk was considered as other milk than cow and buffalo.

Beautiful Kharani camel of Chaghai Kharan region of Balochistan
Beautiful Kharani camel of Chaghai Kharan region of Balochistan

The policy makers were completely blank about the camel and its role in Pakistan. I completed my research/thesis for a Ph.D. on this unique animal and proved its value as a live animal, its role in products, and also its role in culture and heritage. The camel is getting more and more attention at the global level. 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.

The caravan of Kohi camels with their Suleiman Mountainous pastoralists returning from Mangrota camel fair in DG Khan Pakistan.
The caravan of Kohi camels with their Suleiman Mountainous pastoralists returning from Mangrota camel fair in DG Khan Pakistan.

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)

National Goat Show in Pakistan, The Story of Makhi Cheni Betal Breed


Organized and reported by Dr. Sajjad Khan

Dr. Sajjad Khan is a well-known scientist and currently working as Prf. and Dean faculty of Animal Husbandry, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Faisalabad Pakistan.

National goat show concluded here at Faisalabad (Pakistan) last evening on 21st October. It was very well attended the show as 663 animals competed for various beauty, weight and milk competitions. Beauty competitions were breed wise. Individual (male or female), pairs (breeding male and a breeding female) and flock (five adult females + 1 breeding male) competitions were held apart from goat kid beauty competition which was across breeds.

Image may contain: horse and outdoor
Makhi Cheeni Beetal (MCB) breed from Bahawalnagar

Represented breeds were various strains of Beetal (Faisalabadi, Makhi-Cheeni, Nuqri and Nagri strains), Nachi-the dancing goat (Boora, Sawa, Makra and Bulahi strains) and Diara Din Panah (Kala and Shera strains). Single strains of Barbari, Pak-Angora, and Teddy breeds also competed. While beauty competitions were within, weight and milk competitions were across breeds. Breeders and goat keepers competed for cash prizes, trophies and certificates and just for fun. The show was supported by my University, GEF-UNEP-ILRI FAnGR Asia project and the Directorate of Small Ruminants, Government of Punjab.

Animals started arriving on 18th and 90% had reached by 19th. Animals from the host district arrived on 20thmorning as well. As some had taken a 10-hours journey, rest was needed especially for milking goats. Competitions continued till late into the evening on 20th. The goat kid competition, held for the first time (to promote goat as a pet) was conducted on 21st, the day for prizes and trophies. Some 50 goat kids competed and were paraded (actually allowed to move around for about a minute) before young boys and girls (between 5-8 years of age) who were our no-card guests/visitors and had even helped farmers in handling goats during flock competitions.

Image may contain: outdoor
Mature Buck of Makhi Cheeni Beetal

Some 50 were randomly selected from about 90+ boys and girls present. We had 50 red ribbons to be worn to the goat kids. Every kid was individually explained to not follow his/her friends or parents (some had come) for making his/her choice, rather his/her own likeness. While farmers kept sitting with their goat kids, judges (boys and girls) marched in front from one side to the other and selected their champion. Some had done it while animal science students (girls) were tagging the goat kids in the start, while others did it on the spot. Nuqri goat kid won the first position with 7 ribbons followed by Makhi-Cheeni and Barbari goat kids. It is worth mentioning that many goat kids were purchased by the local residents’ price ranging between 80 and 400 USD/animal at the end of the goat show.

 

Image may contain: tree, outdoor and nature
MCB lactating doe can produce up to 10 kg milk per day

 

 

Highest weight was 179kg of a Beetal  (Faisalabadi) buck while highest milk yield was of a Beetal Makhi-Cheeni goat producing 4 liters of milk on a voluntary intake as owners were not allowed to offer anything and competing goats remained in the custody of organizing committee before the beginning of emptying of udders till the last milking. Similar restrictions were imposed in weight competition. This was not a kidding season for goats because in our March competition last year, amount of milk by the winning goat was around 8 liters.

Image

The most deficient information seemed to be scoring the dancing gait of Nachi goats while a lot of indigenous knowledge (apart from the typical nose and longer neck, foot sole was desirable to be visible while animal walks, as narrated by a Nachi farmer) awaits documentation. Love for this breed could be judged talking to a 70-year-old farmer who had raised this breed since he was 10. I hope to learn from him and similarly knowledgeable farmers in future.

 

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Deep colored spotted MCB breed pregnant yearling

 

The show was telecasted live by at least five television channels. Introduction of Nagri strain of Beetal was the pleasant surprise for technocrats and so was the introduction of a colored strain of Diara Din Panah (Shera strain) which was even more attractive than the traditional black strain. Bucks with their cock screw longhorns, massive bodies (~100kg) and long hair really gave a dangerous look (as a friend called them terrorists). New strains of Nachi were also worth watching.  It looks we need to redefine breeds to incorporate farmers standards and available. Information available in booklets on various breeds looks quite distant from reality.

Image

Best animal of the show was a DDP buck (black strain). The best breeder was Mr. Nazir Masih with exceptionally good animals (1st in milk competition, 1st in flock beauty competition for MCB breed and 1st in individual female beauty competition in MCB breed).

 

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, outdoor and nature
8 Month old MCB female

 

As always it was a very pleasant and rewarding to organize and conduct a goat show. Interaction and exchange of ideas with farmers is an asset. Few photos are attached. More photos with video clips will soon be posted at project website  (http://fangrpk.org/).

Dr. M. Sajjad Khan

Professor

Dept. Animal Breeding and Genetics

University of Agriculture Faisalabad 38040

PAKISTAN

Bactrian camel near Uppsala, Sweden


This camel farm belong to a couple, Gunila and her husband. This happy couple use Bactrian camel for Eco-toursim and TV programs. They are very much happy and enthusiastic with their came. They live in a very beautiful place with their beautiful camels. The farm team warmly welcomed me and share their information related camel husbandry and challenges. The camel is really helping the keepers to generate income through the camels.

A healthy dark brown Bactrian camel in Uppsala Sweden
In winter times, the camels stay indoor because of the challenging weathering conditions in this part of the Europe. Bactrian camel in Uppsala Sweden.
IMG_6516
With the camel team, a Somali cameleer is really helping the native Swedish couple in keeping their camels healthy and fit.

Bactrian camel in Central Sweden


Bactrian camel in Central Sweden

The camel farm (Gyttorp, central Sweden) consists of 3 camels; named as Kalle, Karlsson, and Anna owned by a couple, Inger Haglund and her husband Per-Ola Magnusson. The camel depends on berry bushes, grasses, and trees for food.

me and the camel owner

The couple is heading this small herd of camels since last few years and uses it for riding and other eco-touristic purposes. The camels are a new entry in the Swedish landscape. According to Inger, It’s much easier to handle them and they have developed very much with the riding. The couple has a dream that someday there might even be camel racing in Sweden.

For further reading, please go to the links below.

Diversifying Farms Income with Camel in Sweden and the Main Health Constraints in Northern Eurpoe


The challenging weathering conditions of Sweden

Sweden is situated in the north of Europe and is one of the beautiful Scandinavian countries. Winters are very harsh, snowy and dark. Summers are bright with long days and a lot of grasses and flowers. Being a co-scientist and friend of camel researchers of Sweden, I visit this country, national veterinary institute (SVA) and country sides time to time. Dr Kerstin de Verdier, a very humble and kind fellow always materializes this tour and helps in exchange of knowledge and research projects.

Author riding a Bactrian camel in Uppsalala Sweden. The camels are mostly Bactrian or crosses of Arabian and Bactrian

The camels are owned by hobbyists in Europe, especially Sweden

A visit to meet and look at the camel (camelids) farms in Sweden was the important part of my visit this term (10-19 September, 2012). I visited Bactrian camel farms in the country sides and met camel owners. I was always warmly welcomed by the camel keepers and shared their experiences. The camel owners here in Sweden are hobbyists and they use camels for eco-tourism and ecosystem management. They keep camel as family members and the camels are very obedient and familiar with the commands of the owner. The camel numbers are 2-3 of the individual farm. Here camels enjoy a lot of succulent grasses and abundant water. The camels are healthy and sometimes even overweight. Here is a photo story of a camel farm near Uppsala Sweden. https://arkbiodiv.com/2012/09/29/bactrian-camel-near-uppsala-sweden/amp/

The problems and constraints

The problems and constraints the owners shared are some health problems as constipation, diarrhea, mange, teeth problem, acidosis, worm infestation etc.

Constipation

It is a very complex problem. Once a camel (camelid) was treated by the local vet for a long time and it was diagnosed as a bacterial infection. The camel was very weak and near to death and the owner had lost hope of ts recovery. When I had a look at the animal, I noticed constipation with the help of my ethnoveterinary background and offered black tea and some other local things. The camel recovered partially within one hour and completely within two days, and then remained healthy. Constipation usually comes when the camels are shifted from winter hay to rich green vegetation of spring.

Diarrhea

Usually diarrhea comes with the spring, when there are a lot of succulent grasses. In the beginning, the grasses have ample of water with low fiber content. Such diarrhea is beneficial and healthy but the farmers are new (with camel experience) with this phenomenon and sometimes worry about it. I think such diarrhea helps in eliminating worms and promote good health.
If there is intermittent diarrhea and constipation and the duration prolongs, then it can be worm infestation. Sometimes, the feces turn black after a while with the sunlight, such sign is also a typical symptom of the worm infestation. In such cases it is hereby recommended to please contact local veterinarian for fecal examination and further necessary action.

Mange

Mange is skin problem. It is caused by parasites in the skin. The animal feels itching and rubs the affected part of skin against hard objects. The affected part of skin becomes hard, dry, sometimes black and cracked. The hairs disappear and the skin becomes naked. It usually starts with the hump, base of the neck and shoulders. Humid and rainy springs are more helpful in provoking this disease.
Some tips can be helpful in mange healing and management. Putting ash on the floor in the stable of the camel can help as it paste on the skin of the camel and not allow the mange parasite to thrive on. Sand bath is also very helpful as the camel like to roll in the sand and it helps in cleaning body scraps. Body scraps are inviting factors for mange and other skin diseases. I hereby suggest avoiding using ash and sand in the same time as they nullify the effect of each other in the same time.

Salt hunger and teeth problem

Camel needs more salts as compare to other livestock. Camel relies on salt and thorny bushes in its habitat and live in harsh and hot (also cold like Gobi desert) regions of the world. They need ample amount of salts to recover salt loss because of environmental stresses, its biological makeup and load of work in those regions. The people then misunderstand it with high salts requirements everywhere. In the conditions like that of Sweden, with ample and rich vegetation, salt is not an alarming question. Though still camel needs salts for its unique biological requirements. Provision of common salt can be enough for camel in good vegetation conditions. During the scarcity of lush green vegetation like that in winter mineral can be offer to camel. Ground or pelleted mineral mixture is suggested as stone of mineral can harm camel teeth and camel can get older during a short period of time. Camel do not lick and usually chew, in such conditions stone mineral salt is very promoting of teeth decay.

Acidosis

The camel calves, not well fed with mother milk are very prone to this problem. Their true stomach (abomasum) remains underdeveloped and the rumen part developed more than usual because of the shifting from milk to roughages in early age. Such conditions are helpful in provoking acidosis. Acidosis is well known for its signs as salivation, strong odor from the mouth, diarrhea and sometimes constipation, un-thriftiness, rough wool. Such complex condition provokes worm infestation and cause weakness of the animal. Acidosis is really fatal in camels. The best way is to offer abundant milk to the calf at least for one year. In case of acidosis, calcium carbonate salt is very effective and gradually diminishes this problem. In complex cases local veterinarian can be contacted.

Other Trouble shootings

  • Camel is a big and strong animal. It is better not to challenge camel and the handler should not force the camel for a command if he/she is not willing. In such cases camel can harm the handler, especially if he/she is alone. Camel is very good in learning if practice in humble way.
  • Also, do not stand in front of camel if it is sitting or standing, as camel suddenly extend its neck forward to balance its body. The person in front of camel can be knocked on the face by its’ head.
  • As a good practice, try to avoid continuous repeated sitting and standing of camel. It is very stressfully for camel and even can harm its joints.

Way forward

Camel promotion in countries like Sweden can bring a pleasant breeze as the camel is unique of its kind and attracts thousands of people. The people really love camel in Sweden and want to see it. Camel can be used as a tool for promotion of ecotourism. Camel development can be a crack in the peanut mind of monoculture. The camel is good in vegetation consumption as it likes variety of flora biodiversity, hence helps in landscape management. The camel feet are soft like cushion and do not harm the vegetation and soil fertility. Camel can be a tool of collaboration among south and north of the world. The experience of the pastoral peoples with camel in the south can be used by the new herders in the north and bring friendship and understanding. Use of camel can bring back and strengthen the diversifying of farms and their income. Camel is a good tool for recreation for the kids with mental retardation and autism etc. Camel milk can be another luxury and useful for health and wellbeing of people.