Micro-Mineral Composition of Camel Milk

Journal of Environmental and Agricultural Sciences (JEAS). Elhassa et al., 2023. 25(1&2):18-26. 

Open Access – Research Article

Effect of Production Systems on Micro-Mineral Composition of Camel Milk Produced in Sudan
Sarra M. B. Mohamed Elhassa 1, Hafiz I.I. Osman 2, Ibtisam E. M. El Zubeir 3,*

1 Department of Animal Production, Faculty of Agriculture, Omdurman Islamic University, Omdurman, Sudan
2 Ministry of Production and Economic Resources, North Darfur State, Sudan
3,* Department of Dairy Production, Faculty of Animal Production, University of Khartoum, P. O. Box 321, Khartoum, Sudan

Abstract: This study aimed to evaluate the impact of three different management systems, (traditional nomadic, semi-nomadic, and intensive) on the macro-mineral content of milk of camels in different parity orders and stages of lactation. The samples (120) were examined to determine the calcium (Ca), sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg), potassium (K) and phosphorus (P) content of camel milk collected from North Darfur and Khartoum states. The results indicated the highest Ca (154.6±2.3 mg/100g), Na (215.6±8.39 mg/100g), and P (77.2±1.43 mg/100g) content in the milk of camels kept in the semi-nomadic production system in the Green Valley (Khartoum State) and the lowest values (111.4±2.2 mg/100g, 148.6±5.12 mg/100g and 66.9±1.39 mg/100g, respectively) were reported for the camel milk from a nomadic system in North Darfour State. Both areas revealed the lowest content of Mg in camel milk, while Mg content of camel milk showed the highest content in the camels reared in the semi-nomadic system of Hamad well (39.1±2.01 mg/100g) and the intensive system in El Huda (34.0±2.01 mg/100g). However, a significantly (P<0.05) higher value for K (317.8±12.17 mg/100g) was recorded in the milk obtained from camel browse in the nomadic system of North Darfour State. Moreover, the levels of Ca, Na and Mg showed a reduction in the milk of camels with the advancement of parity, meanwhile, K and P revealed an increasing trend. However, there was no significant (P>0.05) difference between the macro mineral contents of camel milk as affected by the variations of parity orders and age of camels. In conclusion, results demonstrated high variability in the macro-mineral contents of camel milk, this variability was associated with the types of production systems, while slight variation might occur for the parity orders, stages of lactation and the age of camels.

Keywords:Camel Milk, Production System, Nomadic, Semi-nomadic, Intensive, Parity Orders, Stage of Lactation, Age.
*Corresponding author: Ibtisam E. M. El Zubeir, email: Ibtisamelzubeir17@gmail.com, Ibtisam.elzubeir@uofk.edu

Cite this article as:

Elhassa, S.M.B.M. H.I.I. Osman, I.E.M. El Zubeir. 2023. Effect of production systems on micro-mineral composition of camel milk produced in Sudan. Journal of Environmental & Agricultural Sciences. 25 (1&2): 18-27.  [Abstract] [View Full-Text] [Citations]

Copyright © Elhassan et al., 2023. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original author and source are appropriately cited and credited.

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1. Introduction
Sudan has the second-highest camel population globally, reaching about 4.8 million heads (MOARF, 2016). Camels have critical role for humans, especially in the nomadic system including workforce, source of milk, meat, and wool, and source of transportation  (Akhmetsadykova et al., 2022). In Sudan, camels are mainly reared in the traditional nomadic system (Dowelmadina et al., 2015; El Zubeir and Nour, 2006; Musa et al., 2006). This is in addition to the other three management systems including the transhumance or semi-nomadic system, sedentary or semi-sedentary system, and the intensive system (Dowelmadina et al., 2015). Pastoral systems are important for the large segments of population in vast arid and semi-arid areas of Africa, where the availability of rainfall is unpredictable and erratic (Tilahun et al., 2017). Moreover, pastoralism is a way of life based on raising livestock, particularly cattle, small ruminants and camels.

Camel milk in Sudan is consumed fresh or in traditionally fermented form, however, selling is rarely practiced. Although consumers prefer camel milk over milk of cows and other ruminants, however, major reasons for limited marketing and consumption of camel milk are related to its inaccessibility and lack of awareness of its nutritional and pharmaceutical benefits (Ait El Alia et al., 2023). Moreover, camel milk selling is not accepted by camel herders in the traditional systems of production (Musa et al., 2006; Shuiep and El Zubeir, 2012). Furthermore, lack of well-established camel dairy farms in the country is also a major limitation for its sales and marketing (Shuiep and El Zubeir, 2008). Its demand, in domestic as well as foreign markets, is rapidly increasing (Akhmetsadykova et al., 2022; Mohammadabadi et al., 2022). Recent commercialization efforts are associated with the initiation of new semi-intensive camel system, e.g., Khartoum State and other big towns of Sudan (Babiker and El Zubeir, 2014; Dowelmadina et al., 2015; Shuiep and El Zubeir, 2012).

The overall composition of camel milk is somewhat similar to the milk of cows and other ruminants (Al Haj and Al Kanhal, 2010; Abrhaley and Leta, 2018; Arain et al., 2022; Benmeziane– Derradji, 2021; Seifu, 2022). However, camel milk has several unique biological functionalities e.g., high levels of immune-boosting immunoglobulins and antimicrobial peptides, unsaturated fatty acids (Ayyash et al., 2021; El-Hanafy et al., 2023; Ho et al., 2022). It is a rich source of macro-nutrients and minerals (Ca, Mg, K, Na, P, Mg Cu, Zn, Fe, etc); vitamins (vitamin B, C, K) (Ait El Alia et al., 2023; Jilo and Tegegne, 2016; Seifu, 2022; Zibaee et al., 2015).

Since ancient times camel milk is known for its medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of digestive disorders, anemia, malnutrition and infections, and as an immune booster (Muthukumaran et al., 2022). Camel milk contains low concentrations of fats and lactose (Yoganandi et al., 2014). Due to low lactose content, people with lactose intolerance can easily digest it, without adverse effects (Hammam, 2019; Kaskous, 2016). Camel milk is more heat-resistant than cow’s milk and does not quickly denature, making it useful for some industrial application

Camel milk has been shown to have antidiabetic effects (Swelum et al., 2021), due to its low glycemic index, high insulin content, and unique combination of fatty acids i.e., small amounts of short-chain fatty acids, but higher content of long-chain fatty acids (Malik et al., 2012; Sumaira, et al., 2020; Vincenzetti, et al., 2022). Camel milk has a white opaque color, faint sweetish odor and a unique taste and texture that is different from other types of milk (Vincenzetti, et al., 2022).

She camels that browse in the nomadic systems of Sinnar State, Gezira State and Khartoum State (Sudan) produced mineral-rich milk, as compared to the other production systems (Elhassan et al., 2016). Furthermore, camel milk produced in traditional nomadic systems is considered to be superior with better gross chemical composition, as compared to the semi-intensive production system (Babiker and El Zubeir, 2014; Dowelmadina et al., 2014; Mohamed and El Zubeir, 2020; Shuiep et al., 2014).

North Darfour State is rated in the fourth position among the states of Sudan in the ownership of camel population, however, information about the camel milk content in that region is rarely available in the literature. Present study was designed to investigate the influence of management systems, parity orders, stages of lactation and age on the mineral content of camel milk.

2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Sites
This study was conducted from August to November 2018. Camel milk samples were collected from 120 healthy she-camels reared in four locations: Alkoma locality (North Darfur State), Green Valley in East Nile, Hamad well and El Huda in West Omdurman (Khartoum State) (Fig. 1). In Alkoma locality, Northern Darfur (12 and 20 North, longitude 24 and 27.6 East), the rainy season starts from May to October, with most rain falling in July and August. The rangeland is semi-desert in the north to poor savannah in the south. Hence the rich natural resources make it suitable for grazing pasture, where camels are kept in a nomadic system.

Khartoum State lies within the semi-desert ecological zone (15° and 16.45° North, longitude 31° and 34.4° East), keeping of camels for milk production is currently practiced in different forms (Fig. 1).

The study aimed to evaluate the effect of different management systems on the macro-mineral contents of camel milk, collected from different locations. Moreover, the effect of parity orders, stages of lactation and age of female camels were the factors regulating the mineral content of camel milk.

2.2. Description of Herds Management
Three different management systems; the traditional nomadic system (North Darfur State), semi-nomadic and intensive s (Khartoum State) were included in this study. Camels in traditional nomadic systems spend all their time in pasture browsing and grazing the natural plants. In the semi-nomadic system, the camels browse part of the day at pasture and were kept at night in pens. However, the camels in the intensive system were kept in pens all the time of the year. Moreover, the daily ration for camels in the intensive system consists of a mixture of groundnut cake, Sorghum bicolor (Feterita and Abu70), in addition to the continuous water supply. Restricted water intake in nomadic and semi-nomadic production systems is because of lacking water sources. All camels in the three management systems were hand milked 2-3 times a day.

2.3. Sources and Collection of Milk Samples
Camel milk samples (120) were collected from 3 different management systems in 4 locations. The samples were classified into groups according to the different factors examined in this study. The investigated she-camels were in different parity numbers, lactation stages and ages. Raw camel milk samples (120) were collected in sterile bottles (500 ml in size). Each sample was immediately labeled, stored in an ice box and transferred to the laboratory of the Department of Dairy Production, Faculty of Animal Production, University of Khartoum for analysis.

2.4. Determination of Minerals Content of Camel Milk
Milk minerals were determined for Ca, Na, Mg, K and P. After making the ash (AOAC, 2003), the residual extract was tested to determine Ca and Mg content according to the method of Chapman and Pratt (1961). Sodium and potassium were determined from the ash extract using the Flame photometer (EEL 12700, England) according to the accompanied technical method. Phosphorus was determined by spectrophotometer (UV mini 1240), Shimadzo, Japan. The phosphorus content of milk samples was determined using Vanadate-molybdate yellow calorimetric method described by Chapman and Pratt (1961).

2.5. Statistical Analysis
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tables were computed with general linear model (univariate) and the means were separated using Duncan Multiple Range Test (DMRT). IPM SPSS software version 22; SPSS Inc., Chicago, USA (2013) was used.

3. Results
3.1. Effect of Production System on Macro-Mineral Contents of Camel Milk
The data in Table 1 showed that all investigated minerals content of camel milk samples were affected significantly (P≥0.05) by the management systems in which she camels are reared. The camels browse in the nomadic system at North Darfur State recorded the lowest means of Ca (111.4±2.2 mg/100g), Na (148.6±5.12 mg/100g), Mg (23.8±1.20 mg/100g) and P (66.9±1.39 mg/100g) and the higher value of K (317.8±12.17 mg/100g). However, the milk of she-camels reared in a semi-nomadic system at East Nile (Khartoum State) revealed higher means of Ca (154.6±2.3 mg/100g), Na (215.6±8.39 mg/100g) and P (77.2±1.43 mg/100g). The higher value of Mg (39.1±2.01 mg/100g) was recorded for milk samples collected from camels reared in the semi-nomadic system at Hamad well area (Khartoum State).

3.2. Effect of Parity Order on Macro-Minerals Content of Camel Milk
Table 2 showed that the parity orders of she-camels revealed non-significant (P>.05) variations on the levels of Ca, Na and Mg of camel milk samples collected from nomadic (North Darfur), intensive (El Huda) and semi-nomadic (East Nile) production systems, respectively. However, the levels of Ca, Na and K of milk samples collected from camels in the nomadic system (North Darfur) were higher (115.1, 160.6 and 340.2 mg/100g, respectively) in camels, in their third and fourth parities as compared to those at either earlier or later parities. On the other hand, Mg and P content in milk from camels at the third and fourth parities recorded the lowest values (21.2 and 64.6 mg/100g, respectively). Furthermore, K content showed high values in all parity orders (Table 2).

The milk from camel reared in a semi-nomadic system (East Nile, Khartoum State) also showed that the number of parity did not significantly (P>0.05) influence Ca, Na, K and P levels in the camel milk. The higher value of Ca (162.7 mg/100g) was recorded in the milk of she-camels with more than 4 parities, while the high Na (241.6 mg/100g) and Mg (26.8 mg/100g) were shown for milk of she-camels at their first and second parities. Meanwhile higher K (211.7 mg/100g) and P (78.3 mg/100g) were obtained in the milk of she-camels at their third and fourth parities (Table 2). Moreover, the data indicated that all studied minerals content of milk were not significantly (P>0.05) different among she-camels reared in the semi-nomadic production system of Hamad well due to variation of the parity number (Table 2). The values of Ca, Na and Mg showed a reduction in the milk from camels in their latter parities, meanwhile, the values of K and P revealed an increasing trend (Table 2).

The mineral contents of milk obtained from camels kept in an intensive production system at El Huda showed a similar trend to that of camels reared in the semi-nomadic system. There were no significant (P>0.05) variations between the camel milk due to variations of parity number except Na content as shown in Table 2.

3.3. Effect of Stage of Lactation on Macro-Minerals Content of Camel Milk
Table 3 showed that the mineral contents of camel milk obtained from the nomadic system (North Darfur) were not statistically (P>0.05) affected by the lactation stage, except the calcium. It recorded high significant (P<0.05) variations between the mid (124.0±6.6 mg/100g) lactation compared to early (108.0±3.5 mg/100g) and late (108.4±2.5 mg/100g) lactation stages.

The lactation stages of camels reared in semi-nomadic system of East Nile (Khartoum State) revealed significantly (P<0.05) different levels of Na, K and P content in the milk, meanwhile no variations were observed in Ca and Mg (Table 3). In the semi-nomadic system at Hamad well area (Khartoum State), camels in the mid and late lactation stages showed significant (P<0.05) variations in Ca and Mg content of milk as shown in Table 3. However, Na and P content of milk were affected significantly (P<0.05) by the lactation stages of camels that kept in the intensive system at El Huda area (Khartoum State) as shown in Table 3.

3.4. Influence of Camel Age on the Macro-Minerals Content of Milk
The data presented in Table 4 showed that the age/years of camels that browse in the nomadic systems at North Darfur and the semi-nomadic of East Nile at Khartoum State secured non-significant (P>0.05) variations on the Ca, Na, Mg, K and P content of the milk samples. On the other hand, only the Ca and K content of milk revealed significant (P<0.05) differences due to variations in camel age, reared in the semi-nomadic (Hamad well) and intensive (El Huda) systems at Khartoum State, respectively.

4. Discussion
In this study, all camel milk samples examined showed high variations in the minerals content depending on production systems (Table 1), parity numbers (Table 2), stages of lactation (Table 3) and the age of camels (Table 4). These findings were in line with those reported previously (Deeba et al., 2020; El Amin et al., 2006; Elhassan et al., 2016; Mostafa et al., 2017). Their findings indicated that the mineral contents showed high variations according to production systems, parity orders, stages of lactation and age of camels. Also, the mineral contents of camel milk could also be affected by other factors (e.g. breeds, geographical location, feeding habits and calving number (Aludatt et al. 2010; Konuspayeva et al. 2009).

The milk obtained from camels reared in the traditional nomadic (North Darfur State), semi-nomad and intensive (Khartoum State) systems revealed significant variations in the macro-minerals (Ca, Na, Mg, K and P) content (Table 1). The obtained results also agreed with the results reported by Elhassan et al. (2016), they found that the management systems were significantly (P≤0.05) affecting the content of Ca, Na, K and P in camel milk samples. Mostafa et al. (2017) also mentioned that Na and K contents in camel milk, under the pastoral system, were significantly higher, however, P and Mg contents were significantly lower than those from the farm system.

Macronutrient contents in the camel milk samples used in this study are in agreement with the findings of Nikkhah (2011). They reported that camel milk has greater Na, K, Zn, Fe, Cu and Mn, Similarly Elhassan et al. (2016) reported that the means of Ca, Na, K and P in camel milk ranges were 131.1–151.2, 130.3–202.1, 196.1–228.2 and 79.9–100.3 mg/100g, respectively.

Al Haj and Al Kanhal (2010) stated that the mean minerals values of dromedary milk are as follows: Ca 114, Na 59, K 156 and Mg 10.5 mg/100g. Omer and Eltinay (2008) mentioned that the Ca content of mature camel milk ranged from 32.5 to 126.9 mg/100g, from 1 to 6.9 mg/100g for Mg, 14.8 to 71.1 mg/100g for Na, 50.9 to 186.2 mg/100g for K and 10 to 54.4 mg /100g for inorganic phosphate. Al-Juboori et al. (2013) mentioned that the mean value of ash in camel milk was 0.48±0.05%. The overall mean values (%) were 0.19±0.01 K, 0.14±0.02  Na, 0.11±0.02 Ca, 0.05±0.01 P and 0.03±0.02 for sulphur. The mean values for Mg, Na, K and Ca content of dromedary camel milk (100g-1) revealed 10.5, 59, 156 and 114 mg, respectively (Jilo and Tegegne, 2016).

The camels grazed in the nomadic system at Darfur State revealed higher value for milk K (317.8±12.17 mg/100g) content than those reported previously (Al Haj and Al Kanhal, 2010; Elhassan et al., 2016; Al-Juboori et al., 2013; Konuspayeva et al., 2008). The browsing trees and shrubs being the main feed of camels are high in protein, Ca and P that decline with dry-up and plant maturity at a slower rate than the grazing plants (Deeba et al., 2020). However, Ca, P, and Mg in grasses and browsing trees recorded different values in Darfur region (Mustafa et al., 2014). On the other hand, Shamat (2008) reported that mineral content in camel serum and tissues varied in East and West Sudan according to feeding, locations and seasons. Additionally, the highest means of K (252.4 to 355.6 mg/100 g) were recorded for milk of the camels reared in traditional nomadic (North Darfur) and semi-nomadic (West Omdurman) systems. These findings were in line with those reported by Shamat, (2008) who found that the Na and K content were higher in the serum of camels grazed in Darfur than that found in eastern parts of Sudan.

The present result of macro-mineral contents of camel milk from different locations supported Aludatt et al. (2010) who reported that there were regional differences in the minerals content in camel milk in Jordan. Moreover, different breeds were reared in the North Darfur and Khartoum states. It was stated previously that the variations in mineral contents were attributed to breed differences (Jilo and Tegegne, 2016; Mehaia et al., 1995; Zhao et al., 2015).

Three parity orders shown in different locations were not affecting significantly the minerals content of camel milk (Table 2). Meanwhile highly significant variations were recorded in Ca, Na and Mg content of milk samples collected from nomadic (North Darfur), intensive (West Omdurman, Khartoum State) and semi-nomadic (East Nile, Khartoum State) production systems according to the parity orders of she-camels. The present findings are in line with those reported by Elhassan et al. (2016) who mentioned that Ca, K and P content were not affected by the variation of parity orders. However, the Na content was increased significantly in the fourth and fifth parity order than that of parity ranged from the first to the third. El-Amin et al. (2006) found that the ash and Na contents of camel milk were not affected by the variations in the parity number. Mostafa et al. (2017) reported that the Ca and P content increased significantly (P<0.05) up to the 7-8 parities, while Na and K increased significantly (P<0.05) up to 5-6 and 3-4 parities, respectively. The Mg content was not affected significantly by parity as they reported.

Calcium content of milk samples from she-camels browsing in the nomadic (North Darfur State) and semi-nomadic (Hamad well, Khartoum State) systems were affected significantly (P<0.05) by the stages of lactation (Table 3). These results agreed with those reported by Elhassan et al. (2016. In Table 3 the early, mid and late lactation stages were found to influence significantly (P<0.05) Na and P content of milk samples from she-camels kept in semi-nomadic (East Nile) and intensive systems in Khartoum State. The Na content of camel milk was reported previously to be affected by the variation of lactation stage (El-Amin et al., 2006). Moreover, Elhassan et al. (2016) mentioned that the milk Na contents were significantly (P<0.05) affected by the lactation stage, but no effect was observed on the values of P in camel milk.

The early, mid and late stages of lactation were affecting significantly (P<0.05) the values of Mg and K content in camel milk samples collected from the semi-nomadic systems at Omdurman and East Nile areas (Khartoum State), respectively (Table 3). Elhassan et al. (2016) found that K in camel milk was affected significantly (P<0.05) by the lactation stage. The minimal values for Ca and P (1.43 g/l and 1.16 g/l) were found at the beginning of the lactation (Konuspayeva et al., 2010). Moreover, Riyadh et al. (2012) reported that the stages of lactation were one of the contributing factors to variations of mineral contents in camel milk.

The non-significant (P>0.05) variations of the macro-mineral contents of the milk samples due to variations of the age of camels that browse in the nomadic systems at North Darfur and the semi-nomadic of East Nile at Khartoum State (Table 4) might be because of the ability of the camels to select their feed from the natural pastures. However, the significant (P<0.05) differences in the Ca and K content of milk, because of the variations of camel age that kept in Western Omdurman (Khartoum State) for both semi-nomadic and the intensive systems could be due to the restricted ration, especially for the group kept in the intensive system. This supported Deeba et al. (2020) who reported high variations (P<0.05) in Ca, P and other mineral contents of camel milk could be attributed to some factors, among which is the age of she-camels and its food quality. There are significant fluctuations in the mineral contents due to the differences in feeding, breed and water intake (Jilo and Tegegne, 2016).

5. Conclusion
In this study, all camel milk samples examined showed high variations in the macro-mineral contents depending on the type of production systems, which are practiced in different locations. The availability of water and differences in feed types and sources are the main contributing factors to this variation. Other factors including breed, parity orders, lactation stages, and age of she-camels might influence the macro-minerals levels in camel milk.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have no conflict of interest. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

List of Abbreviation: ANOVA, Analysis of Variance; AOAC, Association of Official Analytical Chemists; Ca, Calcium; Cu,  Copper; Fe, Iron; K, Potassium; Mg, Magnesium; Mn, Manganese; MOARF, Ministry of Animal Resource and Fisheries; Na, Sodium;  P, phosphorus; SPSS, Statistical Package for Social Sciences; Zn, Zinc.

Authors Contribution: S B M E and H I O: The idea, protocol designing, laboratory work and investigation, data analysis, and writing the original draft of the article. I E M E: The idea, protocol designing, supervision, writing–review, and editing the final version of the article. All authors approved the manuscript.

Acknowledgments: The authors would like to acknowledge the partial fund received from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Sudan. The technical assistance provided by the staff of the Department of Dairy Production, University of Khartoum is also acknowledged. The effort done by Dr. Omar Sidahmed for his help during the statistical analysis of the data, and Mr. Emad H. E. Yasin for assistance during drawing the map is appreciated with thanks. The authors extend thanks to the camel owners who allowed the collection of camel milk.

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