Camel and camel breeds


In continuation of the previous post, I start here with the camel. I shall discuss each breed of Balochistan in details with the perspectives of the livestock keepers.

Camel

Camel is the precious and important animal of the province. Camel is the most well adapted livestock specie, survives and produces in climatic extremes and is well appreciated for its’ significance in the pastoral economy of the province. The camel being 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, remained almost for 10 years (1994-2004). The Relief Commissioner’s data and other reports indicated that the draught has caused great damage to livestock sector but a lesser number of camels was affected as compare to other livestock species proportionally. But unfortunately, less attention has been given to camel improvements for many years when planning national development. The breeds of camel will be discussed in the ensuing paragraphs. There are 6 camel breeds in the province, most of them were never characterized, documented, or discussed in the grey record of the country.

 

 Brahvi

The Brahvi camel is well adapted to arid, cold and mountainous ecology of central Brahvi highlands (CBH) of the province (Figure). Some herds of this breed may also found in 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.

Production systems and socioeconomic importance

The main production system of 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 fix routes and fix time of the year. Such system is nomadic, the pastoral people of this production system reach to the north part of Sindh province and some to the Kachhi basin in winter.  Very rare camel herders practice sedentary way of production. Only male camels for work are reared in sedentary way.

Brahvi camel is important for the socioeconomic life of the herders of central Brahvi highlands.  It provides draught power for family shifting, agriculture operations and other uses.  Though Brahvi camel produce lesser amount of milk compare to other breeds of the province but still provide milk for family use in dry period when the vegetation is not available and goat and sheep milk ceased. The wool is use for making rugs and tents. Usually the herders do not slaughter the camel but only sick and injured one.  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.

 

Population size and trend

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 camel with good bagging and packing ability and adapted to cold mountainous ecology of its habitat. The male is selected for breeding and the one with coarse and dense wooly coat, deep brown darkish color and wide chest is always preferred. The male with 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 following

v  Well adaptation to arid and cold environment.

v  Withstand water scarcity more than other breeds of camel (two weeks).

v  Good in learning commands of the owner (Dlair)

 

Phenotypic characteristics

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

Table 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  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 use 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 herd

-

40-50 %

9 Gestation  period

-

375-386 day

10 Calving rate out of 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 male and female is 4 and 3 years respectively. One bull camel is sufficient to breed 50 cow camels. The service period is 6 days and estrus cycle ranging from 1-4 weeks. The conceived she camel changes her behavior at 6th day of service and show a different behavior as erecting her tail when an animal or a person come 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 camel is higher with appreciable calving percentage and rare abortion. The salient features of the breed area given in table 4.

Marketing and future economic potential

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

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