Effect of tannin containing tree leaves in the diet on camel milk production and its quality was studied in 15 lactating camels (average body weight 554 kg) in mid-lactation stage. The animals were distributed following randomised-block design into 3 groups on the basis of similar live weight and milk production. The control group (GG) was fed with a standard basal diet of roughage and supplemental concentrate in the ratio of 70:30, where the roughage component included equal proportions (1:1) of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) straw (GS), guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba L.) phalgati (GP). The treatment groups GGK received a similar ration with a varied roughage combinations, one having tanniferous Khejri leaves (KL) at GS40:GP40:KL20 ratios and the other GGP received pala leaves (PL) at GS40:GP40:PL20 ratios. Milk yield was recorded daily and the milk samples were collected fortnightly for assessing the quality parameters. The milk yield (kg/d) of camel increased to 7.11±0.14 in GGK and 6.65±0.21 in GGP compared to 6.15±0.24 in GG. The physical parameters of camel milk like electrical conductivity and freezing point decreased in the tree-forage fed groups. Amongst the chemical constituents, milk protein content increased and fat:SNF ratio decreased in GGK and GGP compared to control. An improvement in antioxidant properties of camel milk was observed in the test groups due to consumption of tanniferous tree leaves. It may thus be concluded that incorporation of tanniferous tree forages of hot-arid climatic regions at 20% level by replacing the basal crop-residues in the diet of lactating camel had positive influence on milk quality and its antioxidant properties, which will have far-reaching economic impact in the trade of camel milk and milk products and thus uplifting the socio-economic status of camel rearers.
Key words: Arid zone roughage, leaves, milk production, tanniferous leaves