Survey of Australian commercial dairy camel farms.
Camel milk is a new, emerging market in Australia and there is limited knowledge as to what factors are needed on farm to produce a high-quality product. An electronic survey of Australian commercial dairy camel producers was undertaken to gather information on production and animal management practices. Most of the she-camels were sourced from the feral camel population in central Australia, but other sources included breeding on farm or purchasing from other farms. Herd sizes averaged 54 head of lactating she-camels and 83 dry she-camels. Milk yields averaged 5.3 L/d, lactation length ranged from 40 to 78 weeks and frequency of milking ranged from once to twice daily. The majority of the farms fed their camels native, improved grasses and grass plus legume pastures. The major health issues were mange, infectious pododermatitis and intestinal worms, with mastitis not as prevalent as the other issues. Major products were fresh milk and milk products including milk powder, cheese, chocolate and cosmetics.