Camel in Middle East and Africa Camel milk demand in Africa Disease and Drought Tolerance in camels General about camel

Camel Breeds in Africa

SRE, Ethiopian breed

  • Hoor or Hur breed is good for milk (7–10 liter/day)
  • Ayden breed (multi-purpose breed)
  • Gheelab (riding, transportation, and work)
  • Agawayn is good for milk 4 to 7 kg/day (longer lactation)
  • Layro (multi-purpose breed with a milk average of 2-4 kg per day

More than 90% of camels are in the pastoral system and the rest the semi-intensive (mainly for milk in the peri-urban regions).

Drought and Disease Tolerance Score (DDTS)

I have worked with traditional livestock breeds in different parts of the world, especially the livestock cradle (Balochistan province of Pakistan). Have documented native livestock breeds based on their qualitative traits such as drought & disease tolerance (DDT), drought & disease tolerance compensatory ability score (DDCS), consumer demand, liveability/survivability, adaptability, mothering ability, etc. The most important and practical qualitative traits are given a score (1-5) as 1 is the lowest/weakest and 5 is the highest/strongest.

Mauritanian camels

There are two “breeds” (?), rather varieties as nobody has studied them: those in the East, where there is some vegetation, and they are tall and heavier than those in the West where the land is more arid and salty. Here they are short and light. People here say that those camels in the East eat too much and need a lot of water, while the Western camels are much more thrifty. Even so, the commercial milk sellers buy camels from the East and feed them and water them here, either together with their small camels if they are camel-owning families, or on their own if they are just business people.

In extensive conditions, nobody knows how much milk the camels yield, since practically all the milk is left for the calf, and growing calves to sell is more important than drinking milk, particularly when there is no alternative feed. In the intensive milking-for-selling conditions close to towns, the camels that get pasture plus feed and enough water yield an average of 3 liters per 24 hours In our experience; It is very hard to get information from herders because they are afraid of the evil eye. That said, some camels yield much more than that, and in Nouakchott, they are milked three times a day and gove more. When asked how much milk a camel can actually yield (an abstract, theoretical question) they all know camels that can give 10 to 12 liters a day.

Sudani camel breeds

As a country, Sudan has reported the largest camel breeds in Africa.

Jenani, Rashaidi, Anaf, Bishari, Butana, Kabbashi, Mananish

Here is a link to an article;

Camel in Middle East and Africa camel milk Camel milk demand in Africa

Higher Demand for Milk is a driver of Sustainability

A case study from the Somali Region of Ethiopia

I always tried to spend my time with the camels’ related explorations and research work. This year (2023) I visited 2 important camel communities;

  • 1. Dhofari camels in Salalah Oman
  • 2. Somali camel community in the Somali Region of Ethiopia (Jigjiga)

Here is my take on the case study in Ethiopia

I visited 2 farms (semi-intensive camel dairies) and many mobile camel herds in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. The camels are very healthy, active, and kept at a very high level of well-being. The pastoralists and the emerging camel dairy herders are keeping camels in a very good state of situation. The camels have the freedom of roaming and grazing on natural pastures. They consume diverse types of flora, some flora are rich in nutrients for camels, some act as medicine keeping animals healthy, and some flora have higher transferability from healthy promising nutrients from the camel to the consumers through camel products, esp milk.

camel consuming thorny cactuses in Somali Region of Ethiopia
Camels are consuming thorny cactuses in the Somali Region of Ethiopia

1. Higher demand for camel milk

There is a high demand for camel milk in the Somali region of Ethiopia, the same is the phenomenon in most parts of East, Central, and West Africa. The camel herders attain very reasonable prices for camel milk. The price per kg is 3 USD in the Somali Region of Ethiopia (SRE). The camel milk is provided to those customers who have already registered for camel milk. The milk quality is very good, coming from naturally grazing camels. The surroundings of the camel farms are very clean naturally and rich with a lot of diverse vegetation and trees. No flies, ticks, or other problems in the near surroundings were noticed. I shot many videos and images and documented a lot of facts about camel dairying in SRE.

2. Camel milk taste is driven by what they eat (sweet milk)

As for the flavor, unlike in cows, it is 100% dependent on what camels are eating. We can tell the difference between milk from camels feeding on dunes or on sebkhas (salty flats) near the sea, just a mile apart. With salty browsing, the milk leaves a pleasant salty taste on one’s lips, but from euphorbias on the dunes, it is much sweeter. When camels eat particular trees like Acacia (locally called Askaf)  herders say the milk is incredibly healthy, and they love the taste, but in fact, it is a bit bitter and (to me) slightly unpleasant but the shrub grows in a particular environment and may well be as healthy as they say. Camel lactose is different from cow’s, having a different molecular structure which doesn’t cause any lactose intolerance issue. I found the strange fact that the camel milk was sweeter like honey.

Camel are consuming cacti and other highly adapted native flora

3. Bottling of raw milk

It is interesting that the milk is poured directly into bottles after milking, without even filtering (e.g. through a cloth). I thought a lot about asking the camel dairy entrepreneur to filter the milk after milking but decided that the cloth would not be washed or not washed well enough, so it would be more dangerous than just delivering the milk with all the dirt in inevitably in a rural desert setting it contains sand, hair, cells, insects, dust, etc. Another factor is that consumers in that sort of setting have nice strong immune systems, so there is less risk. Also, there is no H&S inspection to require any sanitary standards. I think it is optimistic to believe that there are no pathogens or insects involved, but the operation looks nicely thought out and done. Here is the link to a video about the bottling of camel milk in SRE.