To increase the productivity of its indigenous petite Badri cow, that grazes on the medicinal herbs of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand is now planning for its genetic enhancement.
At the recent chintan shivir (brainstorming session) of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami with Uttarakhand’s bureaucrats, the officials of the animal husbandry department of the hill State proposed to use sex-sorted semen technology to improve production of Badri cattle. They also proposed to opt for the embryo transfer method in order to produce more cattle of high genetic stock.
Apart from Badri ghee, which is available at the rate of ₹3,000 to ₹5,000 per kg, the State is also looking at the marketing potential of gaumutra ark (distilled cow urine), cow dung, and Panchgavya (the five products of the cow, including milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine).
New reproductive technologies
Talking about the plan, B.V.R.C. Purushottam, secretary of the department, told The Hindu that the Badri cow is the first registered cattle breed of Uttarakhand which has been certified by the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR).
“The issue with this variety of cattle is that its milk production capacity is quite less as it gives one to three litres of milk per day. To make the farmers of Uttarakhand breed Badri and not to shift to other high milk-producing alternative breeds like Jersey cows, we have decided to opt for Multiple Ovulation Embryo Transfer (MOET), a conventional embryo flush, which is the most common procedure used in advanced cattle breeding,” added Mr. Purushottam.
The official also said that ovum pickup in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is the other technology that will be used to increase the yield per animal. The proposal to introduce Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) for the project, to generate employment and entrepreneurship through native Badri cattle productivity enhancement, will cost ₹50 crore.
As proposed in the chintan shivir that was held in Mussoorie in the last week of November, the State aims to achieve its targets in the next 10 years. The shivir (session) aimed to prepare a road map for Uttarakhand as it nears 25 years of its formation.
As the plan includes increasing the productivity of the native cattle breed by use of sex-sorted semen to curtail unproductive male population and the production of elite Badri bulls for semen production through the embryo transfer technology, the State had set up a nucleus breeding bull mother farm of Badri cattle at the Nariyal village in Champawat district.
At present, Uttarakhand has around seven lakh Badri cows, among which are 4.79 lakh female cattle.
The Badri breed derived its name from the holy shrine of Char Dham at Badrinath. Possessing a balanced gait for the hills, this cattle breed is small in size with long legs and varied body colours – black, brown, red, white or grey. This breed is comparatively more resistant to diseases, mostly due to its eating habits.
Grazes on medicinal herbs
Officials say that the USP of the Badri cow’s produce is her indigenousness and her environment (in the Himalayas), as she eats medicinal herbs and is far away from toxic pollution, polythene and other harmful things that cows in the plains are subject to.
“As the Badri cow grazes only on herbs and shrubs available in the mountains, its milk has rich medicinal content and high organic value. The same is the USP of its produce for which its ghee is quite expensive. Its urine has a high value due to its feeding and habitat. The lactation milk yield ranges from 547 to 657 kg, with an average milk fat content of 4%,” said R.S. Negi, CEO of the Uttarakhand Livestock Development Board (ULDB).
Mr. Negi further said that Badri cow products are being sold online by Hetha Organics and Badri Ghee is sold by the Uttarakhand Cooperative Dairy Federation under their brand name ‘Anchal’.
“We sell Badri Gau Mutra Ark (Cow urine distillate) to Hetha Organics at ₹28 per litre and undistilled Gaumutra at ₹5 per litre. We also sell fresh Badri cow dung to a couple of entrepreneurs at ₹1 per kg from which they make products and sell on their retail as well as online platforms,” he added.
Aseem Rawat, the founder of Hetha Organics, said that they are working on selling and manufacturing indigenous cow products for the past eight years now.
“We have an indigenous cow herd of over 1000 cows and bulls from the Gir, Sahiwal, Tharparkar and Himalayan Badri breed. When Hetha started eight years ago, selling indigenous cow milk was very difficult. The awareness about the health benefits of Panchgavya products from indigenous cows is increasing with every passing day,” he said, adding that the platform has seen a steady growth rate of 5% year-on-year, especially of cow urine and dung as the people who make ayurvedic medicine buy it from them.