Rs.11.77 crore for improvement of Mattupetty, Dhoni farms

The two major livestock farms maintained by the Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) at Mattupetty and Dhoni are set to assume a critical role in a national-level project to enhance milk production through livestock improvement.

Funded by the International Development Association and the Union government, the Rs.11.77-crore project involves strengthening the cattle semen stations at the two farms. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) will monitor the project.

Kerala is one of the 14 States in the country which together account for over 90 per cent of the country’s milk production.

By increasing the productivity of milch animals, the National Dairy Plan seeks to bridge the demand-supply gap in the milk sector.

KLDB managing director Jose James told The Hindu that the two farms were selected for the National Dairy Plan after a multi-disciplinary team of experts from the NDDB reported good performance in cattle breeding, frozen semen production, farm management, and environmental and financial aspects.

He said the four-year project would help the KLDB assume a greater role in the livestock development sector in India. “The resultant improvement will also bolster the genetic quality of livestock in Kerala.”

The funds sanctioned under the project will be utilised for development of infrastructure, biosecurity facilities, improvement of laboratories, and human resource development. The NDDB will provide state-of-the-art equipment such as flow cytometer for checking the quality of cattle semen produced at the farms. A portion of the funds is to be used for renovation of old buildings and laboratories.

The proposed biosecurity measures include isolation of the bull sheds and installation of air curtains and foggers to ensure controlled environment. Both the farms will be equipped with fodder harvesting machinery and irrigation facilities. The funds will also be used to buy bulls for the farms, and update the software used for monitoring semen production and quality. Dr. James said the project would help address the shortage of frozen cattle semen in India.

“The KLDB is expected to double the current production of 1,00,000 doses and supply to the national cattle semen pool. We will benefit from an assured market for the semen produced at the two farms.”

Pioneering role

The KLDB is the pioneer in frozen semen technology in India, and the only livestock development agency in the country to implement large-scale progeny testing for the past 35 years for genetic selection of breeding bulls. The board supplies cattle semen to Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Odisha, Haryana, Karnataka, and Rajasthan.

Established in 1963 under the Indo-Swiss project, the Mattupetty farm in Idukki district houses a bull station, bull mother farm, and embryo technology centre. The farm accommodates 450 head of cattle, including 120 breeding bulls and cows and growing stock.

The bull station has a capacity to produce one million doses of frozen semen a year.

In addition to a bull station and bull mother farm, the Dhoni farm in Palakkad district houses a regional semen bank, a quality control unit for frozen semen, goat breeding centre, and fodder seed farm.