Raising Camels For Meat Production
The demand for camel meat appears to be increasing among societies not herding camels. Apparently, a large number of camels are treked from Sub-Sahara countries northward to Arab countries in North Africa and to the Middle East for slaughter. Knoess reported that a large number of camels were exported from Ethiopia to Libya and Saudi Arabia yearly and that the average price paid was $.35 (US)/kg liveweight.
Hartley recorded exports from Kenya to Somalia (34,223 live camels for slaughter) and Ethiopia (5,935 camels). In most of these Sub-Sahara countries camel meat production is neither encouraged nor organized by government policies that include cattle, sheep, and goats. Moreover, camel herders in these countries do not select or manage camels for meat production because their diet consists mainly of milk. Camels are too valuable to slaughter, and only old or diseased camels are consumed.
Camel meat compares favorably with other livestock in carcass yields and quality. With a dressing percentage of about 50%, camels yield a carcass of approximately 200 kg. The quality of meat produced from young animals (5 yr or less) was comparable to beef in taste and texture.
However, young animals are not slaughtered usually for reasons given. Therefore, camel meat ordinarily available is usually tough. Makasa-Mugerwa reported the results of one study in Kenya that revealed the mean age for 26 animals slaughtered at one market was 14.5 yr.
The potential for increasing the supply of camel meat in Africa has been suggested. Feeding camel steers under feedlot conditions should be possible. There is evidence that, although the marketing system for camel meat is unorganized, a strong demand for fresh camel meat and for camel meat in blended meat products exists.
Although the indigenous dromedary camel (Carnelus drornedarius) has continued to be the sole source of food, transport, and income for hundreds of thousands of African nomads, its potential for increasing food supplies and family income has almost been ignored by planners of development projects in Sub-Sahara Africa.
There has been little institutional research effort given to improving camel productivity in Africa. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that the dromedary camel possesses practical and unique attributes for meat and milk production under intensive and extensive management in the arid and semiarid regions of Sub-Sahara Africa.
Moreover, increasing camel numbers should not contribute to further encroachment of the desert and human migration to urban settlements, two problems that have occurred when other livestock development projects have succeeded in increasing numbers of cattle, sheep, or goats.
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