Most feral camels are actively conserving water. The stress of capture causes sweating and further moisture loss. Watering of the camels once captured is highly desirable. This may be impossible in portable yards however once the camels are transported back to a fixed yard the camels must be given access to water.
Average size camels drink 30 - 40 litres per day.
Camels which are dehydrated will engorge themselves on reintroduction to water. Several short e.g. 5 minute, periods of access to water followed by a 30 minute rest, are recommended for the initial drinking session. A camel will rehydrate in a few hours following even severe dehydration.
Once the camels are rehydrated give them access to low quality hay (oat, wheat or pasture) but definitely not lucerne hay as it will cause bloat in unadapted camels.
The use of patience and the use of rewards in handling camels are effective principles.
All camels and particularly feral camels are quick to learn good and bad behaviour and which experiences to avoid. If camels are handled quietly and with a minimum of fuss, within a couple of days even feral camels will approach humans in the yard.
Bulls which are fully in rut have no fear and thus pose a particular danger to other camels and to humans. Bulls in rut should not be held for the abattoir trade and should be released from the yard.
Walking through the freshly caught camels is recommended as this has a quieting effect on the camels and makes subsequent handling easier.
If camels are being held in yards it is highly desirable to train camels to run through a race to a bribe (e.g. hay) without handling them. This will assist the loading process as the camels are then used to being confined by the race.
Feeding in Yards
Camels fed in yards need a diet high in bulk i.e. a third of a bale of hay per camel per day. They adapt to the gradual introduction of supplements or pelleted foods to their diets. Camels used to dry feed need gradual change to fresh foods (fresh cut lucerne etc.) or bloat will result.
Feeding facilities should allow adequate access for all camels and should be maintained in good repair and in a clean condition. In the feral state camels prefer plants high in salts. It is considered essential to provide coarse salt or salt blocks to fed camels. These blocks should be a soft type as camels have softer tongues than cattle. Salt blocks may include only low levels of urea.
Several of the plant species eaten by the camel are digested in the small intestine. To mimic this system in fed camels it is advisable to provide a supplement that contains 'protected proteins', e.g. meat meal, cotton seed meal. It has been found that I 00 grams per day of protected proteins produces weight gain in camels in poor condition.
Yards must be well drained with dry areas to permit camels to sit down and rest away from the elements.
A suitable method of permanent identification of camels needs to be developed. Currently fire branding presents the only practical method and this is unacceptable on welfare grounds.
Temporary identification is achieved by the use of eartags or, if identification is only for 2-3 days, then paint can be used.
Use of Dogs or Electric Jiggers
The use of dogs to move feral camels through yards and forcing pens is counterproductive as the animals natural instinct is to turn and face danger.
Electric jiggers must only be used sparingly on feral camels and then only in loading races. Overuse will cause undue distress and prompt a stubborn response, i.e. overuse defeats the reason for using them in the first place.
The use of a movable visual barrier (e.g. hessian) assists transfer into smaller yards and forcing pens. The barrier must be higher than the head of the camel.