Collection of semen has been stopped at the Dhoni bull mother farm as 40 of the 123 high quality bulls there are down with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
The ‘ban’ will be in force for six months impacting artificial insemination not only in Kerala but also in the other States which purchase frozen semen from the farm under the Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB).
Manager of the Dhoni farm Balu Bhaskar told The Hindu here on Thursday that the disease-hit bulls had been kept in isolation to avoid the spread of the virus. The disease was noticed on November 25. In 2003, there was an incidence of the disease and some bulls were affected but it was not as severe as now. Dr. Bhaskar said Palakkad was the worst hit by the disease this year.
He said though vaccinated, the bulls had contracted the disease. Vaccination would not ensure total prevention as there could be changes in the virus that made the vaccination ineffective.
He said the Dhoni farm had been recognised as one of the major centres of semen collection and worked under the strict standards of the Union Ministry of Agriculture. The frozen semen from the farm was being used by the Animal Husbandry Department across the State. It was also sold in Punjab, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, etc.
He said the semen collected one month before the detection of the disease would be destroyed as a standard procedure. “The semen collection will resume in three months after the bulls are cured of the disease. The semen collection in Dhoni will be affected for six months,” he said. Dr. Bhaskar claimed the ban would not have much of an impact in the State as stocks of frozen semen were available. Besides, there were two other centres producing semen under the KLDB at Mattupetty and Kulathupuzha. On detecting the disease, follow-up treatment to avoid secondary issues such as temperature and lesions had been started at the farm.
“The disease is curable and the bulls can be brought back to good health. There is no need for culling of the affected bulls. It is not stipulated in the standards set by the Union Ministry of Agriculture. Steps have been taken to prevent the disease from spreading at the farm,” he said.