Wild caught camels will benefit from a short program of yard handling to cement positive experiences associated with the transportation process. They will better respond to races, ramps and gateways if they have been through it all before with reward. When moving, the highest part of the camel is the fat-filled hump, the head is generally lowered.
Hump height will lower by 100 to 200 mm between the rest and walking state. Hump height is easily measured at rest by premarked levels in a race. Journey times should be kept as short as possible.
Camels dislike the hollow sound made by transportable loading ramps. It is preferable to cover these ramps with sand prior to loading.
Camels of similar sizes must be drafted into groups prior to loading. Bulls that are fully in rut should be penned individually. Generally bulls are not fully in rut, even in the breeding season, and these bulls can be penned in groups. Cows with suckling calves can be transported together. Full-term pregnant cows with good udder development, milk vein distension and vulval swelling should not be transported as transport may induce calving.
When loading camels, gateways and hatches may be the same opening height as the resting camels hump height, provided there are no sharp edges.
In some situations when camels are on green feeds, they may benefit from a feed and water curfew prior to transport. This is not necessary or desirable when on dry feeds.
Camels must have 100 mm clearance over their humps during road transport. Camels will normally sit down when being transported. Sufficient room must be available for all camels to sit. Failure to do so will result in camels sitting on one another and falling over, which risks entwining. During transportation camels will sit for several hours at one time; however, they will move their legs to stimulate blood flow as required. This free movement is different to tying up the legs of camels where movement is restricted. If tying up is required, then they must be released and allowed to stand at least every four hours.
Cross cleats must either be removed from trucks or covered totally with a generous layer of hay, straw or sand. Failure to do so will injure the pedestal and the pads on the legs. Surface bedding must be checked during a long trip.
Camels may be transported for a maximum of three days in suitably constructed transports which provide shade and allow daily feeding and watering. Fresh water must be available daily. It is often preferable to leave the camels in the truck versus unloading and reloading. Because of their height, camels must only be transported in single deck trailers with sufficient clearance for them to stand comfortably.
The above conditions for road transport apply equally to rail transport. In addition, the opening above the wall slats in rail vans must be closed either by mesh or by well-attached shade cloth, hessian or timber. Failure to do so will allow camels to protrude their necks in an attempt to see where they are travelling. Injury or decapitation may result.
Recently captured camels are not used to individual penning or segregation and such penning is very stressful. Penning groups of camels in cattle pens is efficient, humane and safe. Air transport of camels in cattle pens should be restricted to camels under 300 kg live weight.
Camels can be successfully transported in the lower decks in pens and they must have a clearance of 50 mm over their resting hump height. Camels are best transported on upper decks as they have difficulty in walking down steep gangways and doing tight turns to reach the lower decks.
Pens approved for the carriage of cattle are suitable for camels at the loading density specified in Table 10.3, with two further considerations. Firstly, a suitable bedding material must be supplied. Secondly, where there is deemed to be a risk of leg injury, the rails must be covered with mesh or plywood kick boards to a height of one meter. The opening in the rails for feed and water troughs must be at least 450 mm but not exceeding 500 mm.
Camels of different size and sex are to be penned separately. Camels are to be segregated from other species by an empty pen, passageway or another effective approved barrier. A stockman experienced in the long distance transport of camels is to be embarked on all voyages. An approved method to deliver euthanasia must be available at all times during the voyage. Accompanying stockmen must be trained and competent in euthanasia methods.
Whenever camels are being handled, and particularly during mustering and transport of untrained camels, an experienced operator equipped to perform humane destruction must be available. Quiet camels should be sat down prior to euthanasia. Camels can be euthanased by firearm or captive bolt by the frontal or poll method or by lethal injection.
When using a firearm from in front of a camel, the aim point is a point where two imaginary lines drawn from the base of the ears to the opposite eyes intersect. If the operator is standing above the head of the camel the aim point is approximately 4 cm behind this point and to direct the projectile perpendicular to the forehead. Recommended minimum rifle calibre is 0.22 magnum.
The aim point for the poll method is the intersection of the skull and the neck. In this case the aim is perpendicular to the neck line. New operators should be trained in these procedures, initially on skulls taken from dead camels. The use of captive-bolt pistols and the frontal method is suitable for younger stock. For mature bull camels and especially for bulls in rut, the captive bolt is applied to the base of the skull or alternatively a firearm can be used. Bulls in rut develop thick glands on the top of their head that prevent the effective use of the captive bolt by the frontal method.
Figure 1: Humane destruction of camel – recommended position for frontal and poll methods When the animal has been stunned using a captive-bolt pistol, it must be either pithed or bled out by severing the major vessels of the neck as soon as it collapses to the ground. The operator should stand behind the neck to avoid injury due to the animal’s involuntary leg movements.
Euthanasia by overdose of an anaesthetic administered by a veterinarian or other trained person is acceptable. Culling programs for feral camels must comply with the Australian Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Feral Livestock Animals.