Physiology of lactation and machine milking in dromedary she-camel
Dromedary camels have the capability and the genetic potential to achieve high levels of milk production. However, systematic breeding programs to increase milk production are not common in this species. Dromedary camels are not well adapted to machine milking. Milk removal obviously requires in most farms a pre-stimulation through calf suckling before the milking machine can completely harvest the stored milk. In camels, most of the milk is stored in the alveolar compartment (>90-95%) of the udder. Therefore, almost no milk can be obtained in the absence of milk ejection. In addition, the morphological, anatomical and physiological properties of the camel udder are complex and not fully understood. Because of all biological and economical limitations related to machine milking dromedary camels are mostly hand-milked. The introduction of machine milking makes only slow progress and is limited to intensive dairy camel farms in a few countries. Machine milking of dromedary camels showed so far acceptable results. However, some studies clearly showed that udder emptying by machine milking with the available equipment is not satisfactory. The amount of residual milk after machine milking is high and was up to 30 % or even more of the stored milk in some studies. This means that the used machine needs to be improved to fit the camel's udder. Nevertheless, some studies clearly showed that a major proportion of dromedary camels have a suitable machine milking ability.
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