Husbandry, breeding practices, and production constraints of camel in the pastoral communities of Afar and Somali, Ethiopia

Yosef Tadesse, Mengistu Urge, Solomon Abegaz, Mohammed Yusuf Kurtu, Kefelegn Kebede, Tadelle Dessie


The objectives of this paper were to identify and describe husbandry practices, herd structure, owners’ trait preferences, breeding practices, and production constraints of camel in the two major camel rearing pastoral communities, viz. Afar and Somali, to generate baseline information that would help to plan possible breed improvement strategies and options for the different camel populations. The study sites were selected purposively while households from each of the sites randomly. Data were collected using formal questionnaires and focus group discussion. Results showed that average camel population per household was higher in Mille (28.06±2.27), Gode (27.51±2.02), and Moyale (24.07±2.13) districts. Female camel populations with age of >1 year contributes 78-83% of the total camel herd population in all the study districts. Higher number of female animals in the herd in the arid environment means providing continuous supply of milk and allows a rapid recovery of herd numbers after a disease outbreak or drought occurrence. This shows that pastoralists breeding objectives are in relation to the arid environment and female population in the herd. Most of the pastoral communities utilize a single breeding male camel per 40-50 female camels and this will affect productivity and heterogeneity of camel population. With regard to trait preference, all pastoral communities ranked milk yield as the first trait of choice, except Liben district in which adaptation trait was the primary preference. Growth trait ranked second in Mille, Gode, Liben, and Jijiga pastoral communities where as adaptation trait ranked second in Amibara and Shinille pastoral communities. The major camel production constraints were feed, diseases, and lack of water in that order and the major cause of the constraints was the recurrent drought occurred during the past 2-3 decades in the two regions. Therefore, in planning and implementation of the breeding strategies for small holder camel population breeding program, besides improving some of the traditional practices, the indigenous knowledge of the pastoralists and trait of choice should be considered in order to effectively increase the productivity and satisfy the need of the society.

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