Phenotypic characterization of camels and their production system in Yabello and Melka Soda Districts, Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia
The objectives of the study were to characterize the production system of camel in Yabello and Melka Soda districts and to characterize phenotypically camel based on quantitative and qualitative traits. A total of 192 households were selected for characterization of the production system and 300 camels were sampled randomly for characterization of phenotypic traits. Camels of Melka Soda had significantly higher in heart girth, barrel girth, body weight, hip width, chest depth and hump circumference (P<0.05) than Yabello camels. Sex of the camels had significant (P<0.05) effect on forelimb length, hind limb length, wither height, heart girth, barrel girth, body weight, chest width, hump circumference, hump length, fore hoof circumference and hind hoof circumference. Body weight and all the body measurements were significantly (P<0.05) affected by age. Heart girth and barrel girth were found to be the most important variables for estimation of body weight in camels. In male sample populations of linear body measurements, heart girth and barrel girth had strong positive correlation (r=0.93) with body weight. In female sample camels body weight had strong positive and significant (P<0.05) correlation with heart girth (r=0.95). This phenotypic information can serve as a basis for designing appropriate conservation, breeding and selection strategies for camels in the study area and could be complemented with genetic analyses. Thus attention should be given to exploit the performance of camels based on their specialization to fulfill the current demand of camel and camel by-products in the Borena and also in different parts of the country. The present study can be used to understand the camel resources of the study sites for future genetic improvement and conservation actions.