Changes in chemical composition of Alxa bactrian camel milk during lactation

J Dairy Sci. 2005 Oct;88(10):3402-10. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(05)73024-1.


Changes in chemical composition of Alxa bactrian camels reared in Inner Mongolia (China) during lactation were investigated. Colostrum and milk samples from 10 nomadic female camels in their first season of lactation were collected periodically from parturition until 90 d postpartum (PP). The average contents of gross composition were 14.23% protein, 4.44% lactose, 0.27% fat, 0.77% ash, and 20.16% total solids in colostrum at 2 h PP, and the respective mean values were 3.55, 4.24, 5.65, 0.87, and 14.31% for regular milk on d 90. A 15-fold increase was shown in fat content during the first 24 h, whereas a sharp decrease was shown during the first 12 h of lactation in protein, ash, and total solids contents. Variation in lactose content was small (4.24 to 4.71%) throughout the study period. Total N, nonprotein N, casein N, and whey protein N were found to be 2.23, 0.06, 0.86, and 1.31 g/100 mL for the colostrum at 2 h PP; and 0.56, 0.04, 0.45, and 0.07 g/100 mL for the milk at 90 d PP. Percentages of caseins increased steadily, whereas whey proteins declined gradually until 3 mo of lactation. Gas liquid chromatography analysis of milk fat showed that the content of even-numbered saturated fatty acids (C12:0-C18:0) in camel colostrum (2 h to 7 d PP) was lower than that of regular milk (15 to 90 d PP). The predominant saturated fatty acids were C14:0, C16:0, and C18:0, regardless of the stage of lactation. There was a considerable level of polyunsaturated fatty acids (mainly C18:1) in Alxa camel's milk fat. The levels of Ca, P, Na, K, and Cl were 222.58, 153.74, 65.0, 136.5, and 141.1 mg/100 g, respectively, at 2 h PP; the values of the minerals were 154.57, 116.82, 72.0, 191.0, and 152.0 mg/100 g, respectively, for the regular milk on d 90. The levels of vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B6, and D were 0.97, 29.60, 1.45, 0.12, 1.24, 0.54 mg/L, and 640 IU/L, respectively, in Alxa camel milk at 90 d PP. Vitamin A and C contents were higher and vitamins E and B1 were lower than those in colostrum. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-PAGE and densitometry results demonstrated that Alxa camel colostrum is rich in immunoglobulins, serum albumin, and 2 unknown fractions, which are reduced in amount (%) within 2 d of lactation. It seems that there is lack of beta-lactoglobulin in Alxa camel milk, whereas casein and -lactalbumin start at a low level and increase gradually until they reach their regular levels in the milk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Camelus / physiology*
  • Caseins / analysis
  • Colostrum / chemistry
  • Fats / analysis
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Lactalbumin / analysis
  • Lactation*
  • Lactoglobulins / analysis
  • Lactose / analysis
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk Proteins / analysis
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Parturition
  • Postpartum Period
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Vitamins / analysis
  • Whey Proteins


  • Caseins
  • Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Lactoglobulins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Minerals
  • Serum Albumin
  • Vitamins
  • Whey Proteins
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactose
  • Nitrogen