At QCamel we are often asked what a typical day at the dairy is like, and what a typical day for our camels involve. No two days are the same, just as no two camels are the same. Although each day involves milking our camels to develop our milk and other products, we respect the good grace of them to share their milk with us to start with.
Camels are incredibly smart and intuitive animals and watching them in their natural state within our dairy is an interesting and insightful privilege. With each camel having their own distinct personality and their own place in the herd, each day we get to know their quirks and idiosyncrasies a little more.
Although camels are more synonymous with their ability to survive without food and water for excessive periods of time, that’s hardly the most compelling thing about them. They are deeply emotional animals with a strong family structure. The fact that information is taught from generation to generation is just one of the things that make them so special.
Healthy and happy camels live up to 40-50 years. When the male camel in the herd impregnates the female, she will have a gestation of 12-14 months before giving birth to her calf. A Mother can even stop mid-labour and hold onto the calf for weeks if she doesn’t feel it is the right time. Like humans, she will immediately form an incredibly strong bond with her calf which will continue into adulthood.
Baby calves can generally walk within a few hours, however, mother and calf won’t join the dairy for a few months, as they are strengthening their bond as the mother encourages the calf’s health and development. Although the mother will then lactate for up to ten months she only does so while nursing. She has the choice of when she would like to wean her calf which can be from 10 months to 2 years.
At QCamel, we don’t treat our camels as production animals and consider them part of our family. We recognise each one individually by sight and personality and each camel has a name that they respond to. When we milk them it’s a special time for everyone involved as we share the journey with the mother and their calf.
We thought we would share with you the story of just one morning at our dairy and what our day truly involves:
As the morning sun greets QCamel farm from behind the Glasshouse Mountains, our mothers and babies are already awake and lining up for the dairy.
Our first camel through today is Kosi and her calf Caleb. She comes in on her own and is calm and cool while her little boy drinks from her through the races. A milking machine gently collects her milk while she has her own breakfast – a delicious mix of lucerne, salt and molasses.
After ‘thank-yous’ and camel cuddles from the staff, the two head out to the paddock to enjoy a typical Queensland day with the rest of the herd. They spend their time sunbathing, eating, sleeping and playing before heading back in for dinner and quiet night in. Kosi sleeps in her own paddock with the other Mums, who enjoy a night off from midnight feeding. They happily watch their babies in the adjacent pen and wait to be reunited in the morning for another lazy day.