Karnataka

Bringing back desi cows

While exotic breeds need not be shunned, they should be used with caution and with technical precision keeping in mind the long-term consequences, adds Mr. Gupta.

While exotic breeds need not be shunned, they should be used with caution and with technical precision keeping in mind the long-term consequences, adds Mr. Gupta.  

Department of Animal Husbandry proposes two methods -- straight breeding, cross breeding to revive the native breed

When was the last time you saw a desi cow, either foraging on garbage heaps in Bengaluru or on the grassy hills of Malnad?

Indigenous cattle breeds like Malnad Gidda native to the hilly districts or Deoni native to north Karnataka are disappearing from our landscape, with those cross-bred with imported Jersey and Holstein Friesians (HF) cows dominating the scene.

The Department of Animal Husbandry in Karnataka is now set to bring back the desi breeds in two ways: the first method planned is straight-breeding of the best among indigenous variety; the second is cross-breeding native ones with other native varieties within India rather than with the imported.

Protocol violations

This has become necessary because unscientific cross-breeding in violation of protocol (which mandates maintaining a 50:50 ratio in gene pool between native and exotic varieties) over the years has resulted in cows that are highly susceptible to diseases and difficult to maintain, says Harsh Gupta, Secretary to the Department of Animal Husbandry.

The first proposed method involves identifying the best-yielding 5 per cent of an indigenous breed and propagating the germplasm, which leads to improved yield over a few generations. “Indigenous breed are resilient, better suited to climatic condition and adjust to fodder availability,” says Mr. Gupta, adding that it was the cross-bred cattle that were worst hit by the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

From other States

The other change proposed is using breeds like Sahiwal from Punjab, Gir from Gujarat, and Tharparkar from Rajasthan for cross-breeding with local varieties instead of the imported ones. “We’ve depended on exotic imported breeds and never tried Indian high-yielding breeds,” says Mr. Gupta. An expert committee has been set up to identify the best native breeds.

While exotic breeds need not be shunned, they should be used with caution and with technical precision keeping in mind the long-term consequences, adds Mr. Gupta.

Exotic breeds have increased in five years by 32 per cent. Indigenous breeds have reduced in the same period by 37 per cent

Population

19th Livestock Survey (2012)

Exotic breeds:

Total: 29,12,517

Indigenous breeds:

Total: 66,03,967

18th Livestock Survey (2007)

Exotic breeds:

Total: 21,93,042

Indigenous breeds:

Total: 1,05,02,520

Lactoferrin content (has anti-microbial properties)

Indigenous cattle (Malnad Gidda): 249 mg/ml

Exotic cattle: 50 mg/ml

Source: Livestock census conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry; National Dairy Research Institute

Some indigenous breeds of cows:

Sahiwal: This originated in the dry Punjab region which lies along the India-Pakistan border.

Ghir: Indigenous to Gujarat. While is population has dwindled in its place of origin, Brazil has a sizable number of them.

Tharparkar: These are found along the India-Pakistan border, covering western Rajasthan and up to Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

Malnad Gidda: A dwarf variety endemic to the Malnad region of Karnataka.

Deoni: Popular in the tracts of the former Hyderabad state, which is now Telangana and adjoining districts of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Healthier milk

Recent research shows that the presence of A-2 variant of beta casein protein variety in native variety makes their milk healthier when compared to that of exotic varieties like Jersey and Holstein that contain the A1 variant. The latter is associated with lifestyle diseases. “We have learnt this from researchers at the National Dairy Research Institute. Further research needs to be done for clinically establishing this,” said Harsh Gupta, Secretary for Animal Husbandry.

Breeding legislation

The Animal Husbandry Department is drafting a breeding legislation which will regulate artificial insemination (AI) service providers. It will make it mandatory for them to do follow-up and ensure that the breeding protocols are strictly maintained. There is to be ear-tagging of cattle and monitoring of all AI interventions so as to have planned breeding.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 12:57:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bringing-back-desi-cows/article7073002.ece

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