About 18 months ago we received a call from a friend to see if we would be interested in two starving camels that needed a good home. Knowing zero about raising camels we were reluctant at first, but after a week at the University of “You Tube” and the knowledge that these camels were in a very bad way, we agreed to take them. It turned out to be a great decision. Humphrey and Cleo have become an integral part of our weed management plan. Camels are great at targeting thorny and woody weeds, love thistle flowers, eat lantana at certain points of its lifecycle and produce concentrated manure that does not seem to spread seed.
The Humphrey & Cleo Story
Humphrey and Cleo’s Progress
- 2 Rescued (starving) Camels arrive at Jingeri
- After some hesitation, Humphrey & Cleo settle into their own paddock
- Hand feeding begins
- Both have zero fat reserves and extremely low muscle mass. Humphrey the male has no hump at all.
- Both animals are covered in sarcoptic mange indicating a poor immune system and nutritional intake.
- Humphrey & Cleo slowly improve, begin grazing.
- Grazing diet mostly woody weeds and vegetation.Only 20% of their diet is grass based, so they do not compete with cattle for food resources.
- Hand feeding continues to boost fat reserves and correct any nutritional imbalances.
- In the first two months both are twice treated with topical Dectomax (TM), mostly to treat the mange, but also to address probable intestinal parasites.
- Bones are disappearing under healthy fat and muscle.
- Fat stores developing in the hump of both animals
- Hand feeding continues using Alpaca pellets (camels are closely related to Alpacas), combined with a high selenium and vitamin E supplement.
- Himalayan salt licks placed around their paddocks as salt is an absolute requirement for camels.
- Sarcoptic Mange completely resolved in Humphrey and Cleo’s has reduced to isolated patches on her cheeks.
- Humphrey & Cleo have settled in to Jingeri and are fast becoming a local attraction on Duck Creek Rd
- They have cleared our cattle yards once infested with thorny apple and other thorny weeds and are great at targeting thistles just prior to the flowering stage.
- They are now an integral part of our weed and pest management plan.
- Both animals are becoming quieter and more trusting. Over time we will work with them further to enable us to lead them and respond positively to commands.
8 Lessons we have learned:
- Only 20% of a camels diet is grass – so they don’t compete with cattle for pasture.
- You can run camels with the cattle, but it’s best not to as the males can be protective of food territory causing stress in the cattle herd.
- Camels are woolly in winter and fully lose that coat by mid December.
- Fat stores are in the hump – you can see the difference in Humphrey: at the beginning he had no hump, now it is significantly large.
- Camels are now a critical component of our weed management strategy.
- Camels don’t need a lot of a care, other than that they must have salt and be supplemented with selenium because they have extremely high selenium requirements compared to other ruminants.
- Camels are a great feral animal and therefore highly adaptive, with minimal disease issues and good in drought conditions.
- Camel dung is small and highly concentrated. Our observations found that seeds appear to be fully digested in the gut and therefore do not further spread weed plants ingested.
These two have become a bit of a tourist attraction among visitors to Duck Creek Rd, they have very quirky personalities and there aren’t many camels in Kerry!!
Humphrey is now a large dominant male who likes to bully everyone. But he loves a head scratch and is totally besotted by Cleo!!
These two were quite emaciated when they first arrived. This photo was taken around 6 weeks after they arrived at Jingeri
Cleo is quite shy and has taken a long time to trust us. She is still quite wary of people and doesn’t like to be patted.