The dromedary camel is a good source of meat especially in areas where the climate adversely affects the performance of other meat animals. This is because of its unique physiological characteristics, including a great tolerance to high temperatures, solar radiation, water scarcity, rough topography and poor vegetation. The average birth weight of camels is about 35 kg, but it varies widely between regions, breeds and within the same breed. The meat producing ability of camels is limited by modest growth rates (500 g/day). However, camels are mostly produced under traditional extensive systems on poor levels of nutrition and are mostly slaughtered at older ages after a career in work, racing or milk production. Camels reach live weights of about 650 kg at 7-8 years of age, and produce carcass weights ranging from 125 to 400 kg with dressing-out percentage values from 55% to 70%. Camel carcasses contain about 57% muscle, 26% bone and 17% fat with fore halves (cranial to rib 13) significantly heavier than the hind halves. Camel lean meat contains about 78% water, 19% protein, 3% fat, and 1.2% ash with a small amount of intramuscular fat, which renders it a healthy food for humans. Camel meat has been described as raspberry red to dark brown in colour and the fat of the camel meat is white. Camel meat is similar in taste and texture to beef. The amino acid and mineral contents of camel meat are often higher than beef, probably due to lower intramuscular fat levels. Recently, camel meat has been processed into burgers, patties, sausages and shawarma to add value. Future research efforts need to focus on exploiting the potential of the camel as a source of meat through multidisplinary research into efficient production systems, and improved meat technology and marketing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas