Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan. which makes about 44% of the total geographical area of the country. The livestock sector is very important with the province housing about 20% of the national stock. At present national camel herd comprises about one million heads of camels, and 13% growth rate has been observed since 1996 to 2006. Out of the total national camel population 41% found in Balochistan province alone. The country produced 38.69 billion liters milk in year 2006-2007 and made its place as one of the higher milk producing country in international ranking but per capita milk availability (170. liter) is still very low. The share of different species has been reported as buffalo 25.04 billion liters, cow 13.33 billion liters and goats 0.32 billion liters. In spite of 0.92 million camel populations, camel milk has not been documented in the grey record and has never been appreciated, valued and estimated properly.
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). According to camel herders, the only cause was the hardiness of camel and long traveling ability enabling him to access to feed sources and water points. It was revealed that camel still play important role, provide cash earning, transportation, food and wool, etc. The camel herds in the northeastern Districts of Balochistan are mostly practice semi-nomadic livestock keeping system, therefore, they follow a regular pattern of seasonal migration according to the season, foliage availability and agricultural operations. Women perform all management practices at home, and take care of young and sick animals. Camel is the major player and the food and livelihood earning source in the existence of pastorals people of Suleiman mountainous region. Mangrota camel fair (Meta) is one of the largest socioeconomic activities of camel herders of the said region, which is held every year in the month of October, in Mangrota town. Mangrota is a town of tehsil Thonsa, District Dera Ghazi Khan in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It was found that the camels are brought mainly by the people of Suleiman mountainous region, bought mostly by the people of NWFP (North West Frontier Province) and Western and Central Balochistan. The herders avail a good opportunity for the sale of their animals on one hand and exchange their expertise, vision and social chit chat on the other hand. Camels arc a potential milch animal and produce more and quality milk than any indigenous cattle breed in Pakistan, but their potential have never been realized and couldn't be harvested as a prospective milk producing animal.
A study on milk production ability was conducted on 40 lactating camels in northeastern Balochistan and samplings were done at the end of each second week (level) for a whole lactation in 2006. The daily milk yield ranged from 6.045-11.732 kg/day with a mean daily yield as 10.22±0.43 kg/day (mean±SE). The lactation length ranged from 231-275 days with a mean of 259±7.02 days. Many factors found affecting daily and lactation yield i.e. affect of age and parity, stage of lactation, season of production, type/breed of camel and calving season on milk production. Among parities, 5th parity (13.50 year) of age had the highest lactation yield (3168 kg) of milk followed by 3rd parity (8.75 year) of age with (3051 kg) of milk and 4th parity (11.45 year) of age with (3010 kg) of milk and lowest milk was produced in the 1st parity (4.5 year of age ) with (1566 kg) (p>0.05).
Six multiparious camels regularly milking were selected for the study of milk composition, and the milk was analyzed for two stages of lactation (2nd and 7th month of lactation). The study revealed that the Kohi camel milk contains average of fat, protein, lactose and ash contents as 2.63, 5.05, 4.01 and 0.70%, respectively. The parity affected the milk fat, protein, lactose and ash contents. The fat and protein contents increased with the advancement of the parity but to a certain level (parity 5). Stage of lactation also affected the milk composition and fat percentage was higher (2.70%) in the second stage of lactation than (2.57%) those of first stage. protein was higher in the first stage of lactation (5.56% and 4.15% respectively) than second stage of lactation (4.54% and 3.87% respectively). Lactose was higher in the first stage of lactation (3.67%) than second stage of lactation (2.55%), while the ash was higher in the second stage of lactation (0.73%) than first stage of lactation (0.68%). Average mineral profile of the milk samples was observed as Na (49.42 mg/100g), Mg (15.04 mg/100g), Fe (0.55 mg/100g), Mn (0.066 mg/100g), Cu (0.22 mg/100g) and Zn (1.42 mg/100g). All minerals except Na had showed a very minute variation among parities. An irregularity was found in the chemical composition of the camel milk based on the parity and stage of lactation. Not only the parity and stage of lactation but also the age of the animal, continuous herd's movement, nutritional management and the seasonal difference might have contributed in the cause of all irregularities.
Keeping in view the important roles camel play and its future importance as a valuable animal genetic resource, authorities are stressed upon to reconsider this animal specie in the research and development plans of the country. The potential of camels as a dairy animal was demonstrated under traditional management, to further elucidate factors affecting the milk yield capacity, studies under different management and controlled environment were recommended.