Reinventing Indian Cow
We Indians have sincerely believed in the dictum; अमृतं किम् गोपय:, & गावो विश्वस्य मातर: - Cow’s milk is ambrosia and Cow is universal mother..
Under foreign influences our society became more “progressive and learned”. We lost our faith in Vedic traditions and values. We became a nation of skeptics. Cow’ milk is no longer sincerely considered अमृत.
But despite all that India continues to be a nation where majority consists of vegetarians, and cow milk lovers. Every Indian craves for a glass of pure Milk and curd. Our wise veterinary experts have worked hard to establish modern strategies to meet the country’s unending craving for milk. Anticipated growth in demand for milk in India is driving the entire world’s business leaders to India to share in the profits of Milk industry.
It is attempted in this note to;
1. Bringing awareness about virtues of Indian Cow’s milk and some truth about buffalo milk.
2. Under the altered conditions prevailing today-what can be best strategy for future.
During the times of Alexander’s invasion, Greek soldiers in North Western India discovered swamp water buffalo. They found that it could be milked, and when dry could be slaughtered for meat also. Indians never objected to slaughter of buffalos even in those days. This is still true and the main reason that culling of buffalo is never considered a problem. Buffalo milk thus got acceptance in India under “western Greek wisdom”. Indian subcontinent enjoys the dubious distinction of being the first in world for domesticating water buffalos and promoting buffalo milk and milk products in the world- though mindlessly.
At long last, it is matter of real satisfaction that the doubting educated Indians have now to contend with modern scientific researches that establish beyond any shadow of doubt that Indian Cow’s milk with the cows brought up in ancient Indian styles is indeed Nectar of gods. Buffalo milk is no patch on this. In fact buffalo milk is more harmful than still realized by average educated veterinary Indian dairy experts.
The traditional concept of self feeding of cows in pastures is the most Scientific and Economical method of keeping cows.
According to modern science following are the most significant factors that weigh in favor of Indian cow’s milk to the exclusion of Buffalo milk.
2. BCM7 Free A2 milk
3. Vitamin D
Carotenoids in general perform the following roles in human health.
• Protect human body cells from the damaging effects of free radicals
• Provide a source of vitamin A
• Enhance the functioning of immune system
• Help reproductive system function properly
It is now accepted that cow’s milk is rich in Carotenoids. In humans, four carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin) have vitamin A activity (meaning they can be converted to retinal), and these and other carotenoids can also act as antioxidants. In the eye, certain other carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) apparently act directly to absorb damaging blue and near-ultraviolet light, in order to protect the macula lutea, i.e. protects eyes against Cataract and Age related macular degeneration.
It is also established that Buffaloes milk though rich in Vitamin A does not transfer Cartenoids to their milk. Thus Indian dairy milk that is nearly 70% buffalo milk is deficient in large number of Carotenoids. The deficiency of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Cartenoids caused by Dairy Milk is associated with high incidence of Cataract and Age Related Macular Degeneration among Indian population.
Only Green Fodder produces Carotenoids in Milk
• It is also confirmed that Carotenoid level in milk is directly related to the feeding of green grass to cows. All efforts of veterinary nutrition scientists in creating concentrated feed formulations of Dairy cows are unidirectional. They can enhance the total fat contents and also total quantity of milk of a cow. But the best of cow feed formulations have so far failed to add any Carotenoids to milk.
• Diet supplements by synthetic Carotenoids have very limited success to provide help with eye problems of cataract and macular degeneration. It is now very clear that health of human eyes can be protected only by natural Carotenoids present in Cow’s in milk.
2. A2 Milk –BCM7 Free
A2 Milk is known to be natural produce of the original ancient breeds of cows namely Indian African humped cattle.
International A1A2 milk breeds study
• This makes it clear that like milk of Indian cows, Guernsey milk is also A2A2 type. Milk of Brown Swiss, Jersey are A2A1- but closer to A2 type. These cows are like the best of Indian breeds of cows and produce milk in the range of 5000 liters per lactation. 12 lactations from Jersey cows is not considered unusual.
• Holstein, Friesen & Milking Shorthorn are A1 type milk producers. HF breeds have been known to produce 15000 liters or even more of milk. This fact alone has made HF breed darling of world Dairy Industry. But it is forgotten that after 3 or 4 lactations these cows are sent for slaughter in western countries, because at that stage such high milk yielding cows become uneconomical to maintain. Can we in India afford to follow such western Dairy strategies?
For improving the milk yield of cows, breeding by better bulls is an old Indian tradition. Cross breeding with better species of bulls is to be accepted for speedier development of good milk producing cows, as long as it does not damage the genetics of our Indian cow.
AI and ET are marvels of modern science for portability of good bull’s procreating abilities. Indian Govt. since 1951 has introduced these modern ideas in India with great enthusiasm to vastly improve very quickly the milk yield of Indian cows. But in the process it has almost lost sight of a few very significant facts.
• Firstly development of a stock of good natural service breeding bulls is almost forgotten. It is feared that good breeding bulls are liable to become extinct from the Indian scene.
• Delivery system of AI has been mostly in Govt. hands. Overall efficiency of AI operations has not been better than 25%. This has resulted in increased burden on farmers of prolonged dry period of cows, and has also increased incidence of infertility in cows.
• In anxiety and hurry of single minded milk enhancing capability by AI hardly any attention has been paid to the genetic compatibility of the sperm donor bulls. Aim is to cross breed with highest milk producer exotic breed. (Ignoring the A1 A2 milk aspect)
• Inbreeding and certain Zoonotic diseases that are caused cryophilic infections in frozen semen straws cannot be avoided in AI techniques.
For India our breeding policy should be based on first making use of high milk yielding Indian breeds of cows.
• Natural Service is still very important for a large country like India. Despite more than past 60 years of vigorous promotion of AI, only 20% cows and 10% buffalos in India are reported to have AI services available.
• Gir in India is said to have recorded 6000 liters and Sahiwal up to 5000 liters in one lactation period. In fact Brazil and Israel prize their Gir for bringing about improvement of their cattle. For Dairy farms in India these Indian breeds offer the first choice for upgrading.
• Good male calves of pedigree Gir and Sahiwal lines should also be made available for large Goshalas to raise them as bulls for natural Service.
• In addition to Govt. Bull Producing Farms, large NGO institutions such as Goshalas should also be utilized in the bull production effort. Bull production for natural service was an active mandate of Govt. of India in late 1990s. But seems to have been forgotten now.
• Next come the modern interventions of AI and ET techniques for propagating good Indian high milk yielding cows of Gir and Sahiwal lines.
• To speed up and further augment our breeding options foreign cows Guernsey, Jersey and Brown Swiss that are of A2 breeds may be considered for cross breeding in India.
• Holstein, Friesen and Short horns being A1 milk producers should not be considered for cross breeding in India.
Bounties showered by cows cover a very big canvas. Cow milk is more of a medicine than just body building food. It not only improved disease immunity but also builds the mental brilliance for which Indians are still recognized the world over. Only pasture fed cow’s milk has been proved by modern science to have best medicinal and nutritive value. This is possible only in pasture fed Cow’s milk. Pasture feed is also the most effective method of reducing cost of milk production.
Dhiman, T.R., G.R. Anand. L. D. Satter and M.W.Pariza.(1999) “Conjugated Linoleic Acid content of Milk from cows Fed Different Diets.”J Dairy Sci. 82(10); 2146-56
Only Pasture/Green fodder fed cows have Omega3 and Omega 6 in equal measures. Omega3 content of greens/pasture fed cows is 500 time higher than in cows stall fed and fed with concentrated feed.
Every tissue in the body, including the brain, heart, muscles and immune system, has receptors for vitamin D, meaning that this nutrient is needed at proper levels for these tissues to function well.
Studies indicate that the effects of a vitamin D deficiency include an elevated risk of developing (and dying from) cancers of the colon, breast and prostate; high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease; osteoarthritis; and immune-system abnormalities that can result in infections and autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
With changed life style when most people spend more time indoors, exposure to natural sunlight is reduced to very minimum. This causes a universal deficiency of vitamin D in all people. Only milk of cows, goat, and sheep is rich in Vitamin D and hence consuming cow’s milk is one of the best and easiest sources of Vitamin D for human beings. Buffalo milk has no vitamin D in it. Supply of Dairy that consists of mainly buffalo milk to Indian population is contributing the rising incidence of diseases caused by Vitamin D deficiency namely- Hear trouble, Diabetes, Cancer etc. as mentioned above.
Prospects of pastures in India
India had a long history of Pastures on common property community lands. They vanished under land grab greed and ineffective administration to provide community property protection. Indian tradition also made available forests near the habitats as pastures. But under the ’modern’ Indian Forest policies this is not possible.
Indian Forest Policy
Traditionally in India as give in Vedas and Kautilya's Artha Shastra;
prevented man animal conflict,
• allowed self maintained pastures for cattle to feed,
• allowed forest surroundings to establish old age homes,
• specialized advance learning educational, sports training institutions
• reserve forests for wild life preservation.
For this the forests were treated in following categories.
1. Forests in the vicinity of habitat:
1.1 People with their domesticated cows were allowed free access to these forest areas. Roughly these forest areas were said to be about 3 miles deep. This was considered the distance up to which a cow's voice could be heard. Cow care givers- mostly ladies- would lead the cows in to this forest area. Cows would freely feed themselves on herbs and green undergrowth.
1.2 Ladies would be busy cutting the lower branches of the trees. This served many purposes. Firstly, the leaves would provide additional fodder for the cows. Secondly, by lopping off the lower branches of the trees, sun light could reach the forest floor. This allowed photosynthesis and growth of green ground cover. Rich undergrowth ground cover stabilized the soil by its roots, and prevented soil erosion, floods and landslides. The rotting vegetation on the ground was rich in bacteria such as Pseudomonas Syringe. This bacterium ensured good rains in the forests. In the evening when the cows with ladies returned to their dwellings back from forests with carts laden with chopped branches, the leaves were used as fodder, the wood was used for fuel in household.
2. One area of Forests was reserved for social forestry.
3.One area was fenced in to provide as sports and game resort.
4. Deep forest area was the reserve forest for big beasts and carnivore. This area was suitably fenced to prevent the wild life from straying out in to other semi inhabited areas.
Pastures in India today
Ancient Indians knew the importance of cows foraging in the peripheral forests on green herbs undergrowth and leaf fodder. The Cow dung and cow urine kept the soil in theses forest areas in good health. Indian forest authorities think that by allowing the cows in to the forests and the ladies cutting the lower branches of trees there, the forests are being damaged. To discourage this practice, the Indian forest departments have been replacing leaf fodder trees with planting inedible leaf trees like Pine. The pine needles falling from the trees completely mulch the ground and do not allow any green ground cover. With no green ground cover, no Pseudomonas Syringe the rain bearing clouds pass over the forest lands without shedding their loads of water. With no soil stabilization by ground cover land erosion and landslides become common occurrences. Good green forests fast turn in to deserts.
Cows are deprived of cheap healthy feed. These results in dependence on money to meet the house hold needs that were available free and forests fast turning in to deserts.
Good orchards like mango orchards would also have not been rendered old and useless if cows were allowed to go there. The cutting of lower branches would have allowed better ground cover for the cows to graze and keep the land healthy by deposits of cow dung and urine.
• Technological innovation of Hydroponics fodder is the most appropriate intervention to augment availability of green fodder as an unavoidable but practical alternative to pastures, Global warming and vagaries of nature to ensure regular 365 days all year supply of green fodder for cows.
• Considering the vast area of land required for pastures, and lesser priority to fodder than food crops growing on farm lands, Hydroponics Fodder offers tremendous savings on requirement of not only land but also water for growing green fodder.
• Today village youth do not like to involve in agriculture due to manual physical hard labor involved in farm work. On this account Hydroponics fodder growing offers an alternative factory style livelihood option and create more self employment opportunities in rural areas.
Hydroponics Fodder in India
• Govt. of India had in late 1980s imported half a dozen ’Fometa’ Hydroponics Fodder devices for Indian research establishments of ICAR. Also reported to have been made some efforts to import 50 more Fometa devices as kits to be assembled in India. All these had been scrapped many years ago.
• Each Fometa occupied 30Sq Mtrs. of space and was designed to produce 1000 Kg of highly nutritious clean green fodder of more than 85% digestibility.
• Fometa was designed to operate in European climate, and required about 6 KVA of electric power to operate. Mainly due to irregular electrical supply availability these Fodder devices could not be used for regular reliable daily supply of green fodder. But records are available of Fometa producing the designed quantity of fodder when operated properly.
• Little or no effort was made to re-engineer the design of Fometa to make it energy efficient and suitable for Indian climate zones. The scheme was dropped like a hot potato or a dream gone sour due to bureaucratic ineptitude. No authority in India today wants to give this marvel of a modern agriculture innovation a look in India.
• Private individual initiatives have shown very promising low cost green alternative possibilities of Hydroponics fodder production in India, and need to be encouraged in national interest.