Animal Production

Papers

A preliminary report on the energy intake and growth rate of early-weaned camel (Camelus dromedarius) calves

A. A. Degena1, E. Eliasa1 and M. Kama1

a1 Isan Center, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel

Abstract

Dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) inhabit and are well suited to semi-arid and arid areas of north Africa, south-east Asia and India. Little attention has been given to their husbandry although they are an important livestock species in some areas. One of the limiting factors in camel production is the 2- to 3-year interval between calvings. In this study, three female calves (birth weight 32·5 kg) were weaned onto artificial milk 30 days after birth and the she-camels (400 to 500 kg) were mated 10 to 14 days later. Between 30 and 120 days of age the calves received mainly artificial milk and between days 120 and 180 they received concentrates and lucerne hay. While the calves sucked milk, intake averaged 6·9 l/day, metabolizable energy intake (MEI) averaged 19·5 MJ/day and average daily gain (ADG) was 0·87 kg. Ratios of conversion of milk intake (l/day) and MEI (MJ/day) to body-mass gain (kg/day) were 8·0: 1 and 22·4: 1, respectively, and to total body solids gain (kg/day) were 22·3: 1 and 62·7: 1, respectively. From days 30 to 120, ADG was 0·67 kg, and from days 120 to 180 ADG was 0·61 kg. The calves averaged 155 kg at 180 days and ADG to that age was 0·68 kg. All three she-camels conceived 10 to 14 days post weaning.

This study demonstrated that camel calves can be weaned early and that high growth rates can be achieved. In addition, she-camels can be mated shortly after parturition so that calving intervals can be reduced to 15 months.

(Received October 21 1986)

(Accepted March 02 1987)