Effects of Mineral Supplementation on Milk Yield of Free-ranging Camels (Camelus dromedarius) in Northern Kenya

  • Onjoro, P.A. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Njoka-Njiru, E.N. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Ottaro, J.M. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Simon, A. (Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute of Animal Science) ;
  • Schwartz, H.J. (Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute of Animal Science)
  • Received : 2005.10.27
  • Accepted : 2006.04.17
  • Published : 2006.11.01


The effects of different mineral supplementations on the milk yield of free-ranging Somali camels were investigated in two phases in a semi-arid region of northern Kenya during the dry and wet seasons in 2002 and 2003. In phase 1, twelve (12) lactating camels were selected at random to form four (4) groups each consisting of three camels. The first group served as the control and as a result received no mineral supplementation. In addition to the control diet the other groups received oral doses of minerals as follows over a 60-day period: T1 (P), T2 (High Cu low Co) and T3 (Low Cu high Co). The daily milk yield and blood mineral profiles were measured during the wet and dry seasons. The mean daily milk yield increased from 3.4 L/d to $4.3{\pm}0.3L/d$ and 5.2 L/d in the dry and wet seasons, respectively. Fifteen (15) lactating camels were selected at random to form five groups each consisting of three replicates. The control group did not receive any mineral supplement. The other four groups in addition to the control diet, received the following treatments: T4 (Common Salt), T5 (High Co), T6 (High Co+P) and T7 (Low Co+P). Mineral supplement T6 produced significantly higher milk yield ($5.4{\pm}0.5$ and $6.5{\pm}0.7L/d$) during the dry and wet seasons. Both T6 and T7 had significantly higher milk yield than T4 and T5. During both phases, the blood Ca and P level significantly increased in camels receiving T1, 6 and 7. Animals that received only the trace mineral supplements had lower blood P compared to the ones receiving supplementary P and also the control. Supplementation of lactating camels with Co and P significantly (p<0.05) increased milk yield). Effect of common salt, commonly given by farmers, on milk yield was insignificant. It was concluded that mineral supplementation to lactating camels was beneficial, and that mineral supplements should include P and Co. Further research is required to establish P and Co requirements of lactating camels.


  1. Bake, G. 1983. An analysis of climatological data from the Marsabit district of Northern Kenya. In: Integrated project for Arid Lands Technical Report B.3, UNESCO, Nairobi, Kenya
  2. Bekele, T., M. Zeleke and R. M. K. Baars. 2002. Milk performance of the one humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) under pastoral management in semi-arid Eastern Ethiopia. Liv. Prod. Sci. 76:37-44
  3. Karue, C. N. 1998. The dairy characteristics of the Kenyan camel. In: (Ed. P. Bonnet), Dromedaries and camels, Milking Animals. Actes Du Colloque, 24-24 October.1997 Nouakchott, Mauritania, Montpellier, France, CIRAD, p. 55-60
  4. Vittorio, D. C., E. Berretta, A. Baldi and eG. Savoni. 2001. Effects of trace mineral supplementation on milk yield and composition in camels. Ir. Dairy J. 10:873-879
  5. Han, B. O., J. liang, Y. Zhang, X. T. Zhang, X. Bin and B. Xu. 2000. Effects of diets supplemented with selenium, iodine and copper on the production and reproduction of dairy cows in Ningxia area. J. Nanjing Agric. Univ. 23:76-80
  6. Schonewille, J. T., A. T. Klooster, A. Dirkzwager, A. C. Beynen and A. T. Van'-t-Klooster. 1994. Stimulatory effect of an anion (chloride)-rich ration on apparent calcium absorption in dairy cows. Livest. Prod. Sci. 40:233-240
  7. Wu, Z., L. D. Satter and R. Sojo. 2000. Milk production, reproductive performance, and faecal excretion of phosphorus by dairy cows fed three amounts of phosphorus. J. Dairy Sci. 83:1028-1041
  8. Essamadi, A. K., M. Bengoumi, J. P. Chacornac and B. Faye. 1998. Relationship between plasma copper concentration and caeruloplasmin activity in camel. Trends in Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 5:211-220
  9. Knowlton, K. F. and J. H. Herbein. 2002. Phosphorus partitioning during early lactation in dairy cows fed diets varying in phosphorus content. J. Dairy Sci. 85:1227-1236
  10. Yamagishi, N. and Y. Naito. 1997. Calcium metabolism in hypocalcaemic cows with myocardial lesion. J. Vet. Med. Sci. 59:71-73
  11. Faye, B., G. Saint-Martin, R. Cherrier and A. Ruffa. 1992. The influence of high dietary protein, energy and mineral intake on deficient young camel (Camelus dromedarius). II. Changes in mineral status. J. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 102:417-424
  12. Onjoro, P. A. 2004. Effects of mineral status on milk yield of freeranging lactating camels (Camelus dromedaries) in Northern Kenya. Ph.D. thesis Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
  13. Sviatko, P., E. Chandogova, F. Federic, M. Hiscakova, M. Anke, B. Groppel, H. Gurtler, M. Gruhn, I. Lombek and H. J. Schneider. 1991. Modification of microelement nutrition of dairy and its relation to production and reproduction. Mengenund Spurenelemente: 12. Arbeitstagung, Leipzig, 12-13 December. pp. 26-40
  14. Shamra, M. C., J. T. Chinmay, K. Sarkar and C. Joshi. 2002. Therapeutic efficacy of minerals supplements in macrominerals deficient buffaloes and its effect on haematobiochemical profile and production. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 15:1278-1287
  15. AOAC. 1990. Official methods of analysis. 15th edn. Association of Official analytical Chemists, Washington, DC
  16. Kaufmann, B. 1998. Analysis of pastoral camel husbandry in Northern Kenya. PhD Thesis University of Hohenheim. Weikersheim, Germany
  17. Argunov, M., L. Golubeva and K. H Baranukov. 1991. A new supplement. Molochnoe I Myasnoe Skotovodstvo, 1:35-36
  18. Brzoska, F., A. Lojewska, B. Brzoska and W. Zyzak. 2001. Effect of salt licks with micronutrients on microelement content in milk and blood serum of dairy cows. Annals of Animal, 28:83-92
  19. Hammadi, M. 1995. Artificial feeding of young dromedaries: A method for improving productivity in dromedary breeding. Options Mediterraneennes. Serie B, Etudes et Recherches, 13:137-141

Cited by

  1. The Turkana Camel Breed in North-Western Kenya vol.40, pp.3, 2011,