The improvement of the camel reproduction performances: just a technical question?
The question of “How to improve camel reproduction” is an age-old dilemma for scientists and veterinarians in the camel sector. In 1990, during the workshop organized in Paris, on the topic “Is it possible to improve the reproductive performance of the camel?”, Professor Musa (Sudan) said that “although the field of camel reproduction is no longer the virgin area it used to be ten years ago, there are still a lot of gaps in our knowledge concerning camel reproduction”. Among the questions, it was mentioned that infertility was still not well defined in the camel as compared with other farm animals. Knowledge has progressed over the last 25 years but, the improvement in reproductive efficiency of the camel is still limited. The improvement in reproductive efficiency has two main objectives: (i) to contribute to genetic progress, and (ii) to increase the numerical productivity of the camel herd. The main parameters contributing to this productivity are the fertility rate (number of live calves at term/mean number of adult females) of both male and female, the intercalving interval and embryo and calf survival. The main advances over the past 25 years have been due to better management regarding the diagnosis of gestation and fetus monitoring, a better understanding of mechanisms to stimulate male libido, a more rational culling policy for camels with genital abnormalities, better general hygiene of the farm at calving (distribution of colostrum) and at weaning, better health management (vaccination, parasitism prevention) and the introduction of assisted reproductive techniques such as artificial insemination and embryos transfer (AI, ET). On the other hand, advances in the organizational aspects at national level are quite insufficient. For example, no real performance control to identify the best potential genitors, no collection of data regarding reproductive performances except at some big dairy farms and even the strategy for reducing the calving interval has not really been established. In addition, the knowledge and capability of the farmers, veterinarians and technicians at the national level is still insufficient to observe progress in camel reproductive performances and even if these performances were to be improved, there is no national monitoring system to measure this improvement. A demographic model,such as the Leslie Model, could help as a first step in understanding the initial ways for improving camel productivity such as decreasing calf mortality, increasing fertility and decreasing the intercalving interval ? An example is given in the presentation.
Keywords: Camel, reproduction, technical innovations, performances farmers organization.