Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Breeding to improve INDIAN COWS

Breeding to improve INDIAN COWS

Improving milk productivity of Indian cow has been pursued for many a decade in India. It is conceded that average yield of an Indian cow is very low at about 1000 liters/lactation, when compared to the better Indian cows giving 3000 to 4000 liters per day. Cross breeding by exotic European breeds is the best alternative to improve the genotype milk producing capability of the low yielding Indian cows. But it has to be well appreciated that best Dairy cows expected to provide better than 9000 liters /lactation have an average Dairy life in USA of 3.4 lactattions. This strategy is not expected to work in Indian cultural traditions. We would much rather be happy with our cows giving around 2000 liters/lactation and with an average of ten lactations.
This should give a bench mark for improving milk yield of Indian cows, with an upper limit of about 3000 liters.
Second consideration is about choice of exotic breeds to be considered for upgrading. It is now established that Indian breeds of cows belong to the ‘ancient’ breeds of cows that are known to produce A2 type milk in which BCM7 is not present in any significant proportions.   It thus becomes important that by cross breeding no change is to other type of milk and A1 type is not introduced in Indian breeds of cows. HF breed has been  the logical choice for cross breeding of Indian cows. Now that scientific evidence has emerged that HF cows are genetically producers of known to give A1 type of milk. Thus it is of utmost significance that HF should be excluded from choice of exotic breeding options for Indian cows.  The next alternative is Jersey cows. It is known that Jersey cows produce A2 type of milk. Average Jersey milk production is about 5000 liters/lactation. This milk productivity also matches the best potentials of Indian cows’ milk production.  Thus Jersey should be considered to the exclusion of HF for exotic blood for cross breeding of Indian cows.    

1.  AI as Breeding Practices:-
    AI (Artificial Insemination) is indeed a marvel of modern veterinary science. In US success rates of AI exceeding 80% are common, as also  same cows delivering by AI more than ten calves in  good Dairy farms  is not an exception.
1.1.1 AI Experience in India
   With best of our efforts in last 60 years, it has not been possible to achieve overall AI success rates better than 25% in India. Under controlled conditions even 80% success with AI has been achieved in India. With best of Govt. whole heartedly supported efforts, the resulting  poor performance of  30 % national success rates of AI should be a lesson to rethink about alternatives to AI in India.
 Economic hardship of farmers due to extended dry period on account of deficient AI delivery has never been assessed by anybody in India.
1.1.2. Repeatedly failed AI cattle become infertile.
Failed AI attempts give rise to fibroids in the vagina of a cow.  After a few calving these fibroids render a good fertile cows incapable of future conception. Loss of good milk yielding cows due to infertility has also never been assessed in the Indian Animal Husbandry practice. By poor AI delivery apart from tremendous burden on farmers in feeding cows for the extended dry period, excellent milk cattle is being turned infertile.
Infertility and AI (International Experience)
 Is Dairy Cow Fertility A Lost Cause?
A sea of change in farmers' attitudes is needed if the problem of poor fertility is to be solved in the modern dairy cow population, says Marco Winters, head of genetics for DairyCo Breeding+, in an article written for Dairy Farmer.
This message from Mr Winters reflects the fact that although daughter Fertility Index has been regularly published for bulls for over five years, there are many farmers who still disregard this index when selecting their AI sires.

This could mean they are positively breeding against good fertility.

"Every individual's breeding policy is clearly a matter of personal choice, but I'd say to any farmer who complains about poor cow fertility that he has the tools to change it within his grasp," says Mr Winters.

"Of course, it's well known that management plays a big part in a herd's overall reproductive performance, but there's no question that you can stack the odds in your favour by bringing in fertile genetics."

This argument is based on two pieces of clear and unambiguous evidence.

"The first is illustrated in a new graph which shows that as farmers have used bulls with higher and higher Predicted Transmitting Abilities (PTAs) for milk production, their PTAs for Calving Interval have got worse - in other words, they've got longer," says Mr Winters.
Graph 1 - which shows the genetics of the AI sires farmers have used over the past 20 years - clearly illustrates this effect.
Graph 1: PTA for Milk Production and Calving Interval for AI sires used on British farms over 20 years
But something different clearly happens in 2005," he says. "The lines very strongly diverge to indicate that while selection has continued in favour of milk production, genetics for calving interval have started to improve.

"This is excellent news - not just because it tells us that since 2005, when Fertility Index was introduced, some farmers have been considering fertility when selecting their AI sires," he says.

"But perhaps more importantly it tells us it's possible to continue to breed for better production, without sacrificing fertility."

This is extremely encouraging for the future fertility of the UK dairy cow population as it offers the realistic hope that we can make future improvements through better breeding.

This is corroborated in the second piece of compelling evidence, which is illustrated in graph two.
Graph 2: PTA for Calving Interval of UK dairy cows and the AI sires used on British farms
This graph shows the genetics for calving interval only, firstly in the cows in the national herd (blue line); then in the choice of AI sires (red line). The cows are referred to by year of birth; the AI sires by their year of use.

As the lines go up, so the genetics for calving interval gets worse - and it's worse in the sires (and therefore future generations) than the cows.

"What's also clear is that had there been a continuation of the trends of the 1990s, poor fertility would be an even greater problem today than is actually the case," says Mr Winters. "But that's hardly surprising as we had no Fertility Index at that time and farmers were selecting completely blind.

"But the introduction of Fertility Index in 2005 is immediately reflected in farmers' choice of sires, which is followed, a year later, in the genetics of the cows.

"And if we follow the choice of AI sires through to the animals that will be born in 2010 and 2011 (which we already know from inseminations recorded), we can see that these animals will have markedly better genetics for fertility.

"Those farmers who have adopted this strategy and are paying attention to Fertility Index are to be congratulated," continues Mr Winters. "And those AI companies who have embraced this index have played an important role in the process.

"But unfortunately, anecdotal evidence tells us that some AI companies do not readily publish this information and many farmers fail to request or take note of the index.

"I would urge these people - especially if they have a fertility problem - to use Fertility Index within part of a balanced breeding strategy.

"Screen on Profitable Lifetime Index [PLI] in the first instance, and then check those fitness indexes important to your herd and ensure you are using bulls which have strengths in the right areas. For many herds, the area which will need particular improvement is fertility, and today, it's possible to find more bulls on the market than ever before which will transmit good fertility on to their daughters."
June 2011

    In this way AI is helping the cow slaughter industry.

 1.1.3. Inbreeding with AI is a well recognized problem in developed world Dairies also. In India as it is we have a lot of inbreeding trouble, AI is being performed for better cattle. But big potential loss of good cattle by inbreeding is inherent in AI.
1.1.4 - Spread of IBR by AI is a well established fact.
     IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis) has been an uncontrollable Zoonotic disease. Indian veterinary experts have the data of 20000 animals from Military Farms, Gaushala, Two Coordinated projects and 50 PG studies on this disease from India in support of this observation. It is reaching human population in the form of Swine Flu, Dengue fever, H1N1 infection, Common Cold and Cough spreading like epidemics in colder seasons.

  1.1.5. A more practical approach to AI in Indian context is not to overlook the advantages of Natural breeding methods. Normally when cost advantage of AI is demonstrated, the added cost born by the society to find resources for extended dry periods of cattle  due to failed AI attempts, cost of cows rendered infertile due to improper AI operations are not taken in to calculations. Total costs involved in maintaining the cold chain, semen storage facilities, infrastructure of semen collection, storage and distribution has never been taken in to consideration when comparing economics of AI with natural breeding practice.
    Overall total cost of natural breeding service under Indian conditions is far more advantageous than AI. 

1.1.7. AI and ET –Embryo Transfer – techniques can be practiced under controlled expert institutions and larger Goshalas  as  support for  the Field Services.   Investigations of genetic improvement of cattle worldwide indicate that 70% of genetic improvement in milk yield and other economic traits is through progeny testing only.  
    The annual genetic gain per year with progeny testing and with multiple ovulation and embryo transfer technology (MOET) with progeny testing is 1.8-2% and 3-4%, respectively.
 Considering all this ET technology for breed improvement should be given higher emphasis.  
1.1.8. Above analysis establishes that AI under highly controlled conditions (In good institutions) can serve as a fast short time strategy to reduce the time frame involved in breed improvement of lactating animals. AI in the long term, is not a sustainable, viable technique to be adopted by range agrarian society for all future breeding purposes.
Natural breeding by good pedigree bulls is the most sustainable and economically viable system.
Govt. should consider shrinking its present infrastructure on AI straw production centers, and AI services, by taking a very pragmatic view of their performance in the last many decades under Indian conditions. Saving to the national exchequer and hardships being faced by poor cattle owning farmers will be very significant. Large number of good cows that become infertile due to poor AI delivery practice will also be saved.
1.19. Pedigree Bulls.
Neutering Stray Bulls.
Govt. plans to cover bi AI  entire cow wealth of India has been in operation for the last 50 years. But till date AI facilities are reported to cover not more than 25% of Indian cows and buffaloes.  Bulk of the milk production of India obviously comes from unorganized sector cows. These cows and buffaloes depend on stray bulls for breeding. This results in spread of disease and decrease of milk productivity.
Govt. had many decades ago, very correctly laid down policy for neutering of all stray bulls.  Castration by mechanical means is the only method known in practice. Taming of a stray bull and performing castration is not an easy operation. Thus practically hardly any castration of stray bulls is done in India.
A medicine is reported to have been developed by Indian researchers many years ago to stop sperm production of Bulls and dogs. This medicine reported to be very regularly marketed in USA. But in India nobody knows about it. Neutered bulls still will perform the function of teaser bulls, and will be prevented from passing on their undesirable traits to cows in range.
Supply of pedigree Bulls.
Govt. has set up a number of bull development farms. But it is very important that all large Goshalas should be encouraged to participate in supply of pedigree male calves for breed conservation and improving the range cows. With increase use of farm machinery and tractors, everyone talks about ‘what to do with male calves’.  There is an immense need for good male calves for natural breeding purposes, and this aspect does not appear to have weighed with Indian planners. For supply of AI semen lot of attention is paid to evaluate ‘bulls for breeding soundness test ’ . For natural breeding most of the pedigree male calves will be any day better than non descript stray bulls for breeding.
2.  Cow - Milk productivity Improving targets(Indian Traditions)
As per Atharv Veda10.9.1 इन्द्रेण दत्ता प्रथमा शतौदना- First domesticated cow was developed to provide sustenance for up to 100 men, (this included milk and cow based agriculture produce). Considering the total milk and agriculture output attributable to good cow this is a reasonable statement even today.
Even during Mughal, cows giving 20 seers about 18 Kg milk were common according to historical records
. That would come to above 4000 kg of milk per cow in one lactation. Due to progressive loss of good pastures and decline in rural living standards, care of individual cows suffered greatly. Most male calves were reared for agriculture traction duties. According to Panini certain promising Male calves were selected for being raised as breeding bulls. They were called आर्षभ्य, Arshabhya. They were allowed to feed on two teats of their mother during weaning period. These male calves having breeding soundness after proper branding, were released for natural free breeding community service. Tattoo marking on the ears of a new born calf for breed evaluation and future breeding purpose has been tradition right fro Vedic period. Atharv Ved clearly stipulate ‘ लोहितेन स्वधितिना मिथुनम कर्णयो कृधि “Atharv ved  . Even in Kautilya’s Arthashastra Ear Tatoo marking of new born was a duty of persons incharge of cow care.    
It was sacred duty of the community to look after health and welfare of these bulls. Releasing a good male calf for breeding was considered an act of great charity. Today with loss of these traditions and knowledge, only stray bulls are left to wander around and provide the available service for natural breeding for nearly 80% of Indian cows. The result is that due to inbreeding and poor breeding bulls, average per lactation yield of an Indian cow has dropped to below 750 Kg of milk.  
3. Strategy for improving productivity of Indian breeds of cows.
3.1 Cross Breeding Option:
For the past many decades planners in India and Pakistan have been practicing cross breeding with high yielding HF cows to improve the milk yield of Cows, and AI as the standard method of breeding. Ai has been covered in details earlier in this note.
Coming to Cross breeding F2. F3 generations of cross bred cows are not reported to maintain the high expected milk yield.
I have personally checked with Pakistan farmers about the experience of cross breeding Sahiwal with HF there. Cross bed Sahiwals do not normally give more than 17 to 18 liters of milk per day. Similar is the experience in India.  In our Goshala in Delhi we have been able to milk yields of 16 to 18 liters from Indian Sahiwal and Gir cows.
Thus Cross breeding of our cows with HF is not as important as good feed, healthy environment, health care and good pedigree natural breeding practices. 
3.2 Targets for Milk yield of Indian breeds of Cows        
As per literature, few good milch breeds in India are considered for development . 1. Sahiwal, 2. Gir, 3. Red Sindhi and  4. Deoni.  Based on recent literature and  surveys, performance of dual purpose Indian cattle breeds viz. Tharparkar, Rathi, Kankrej is improving through selective breeding. These breeds are also popular among farmers.

1. Milk yield/lactation                   :           around 3000 kg
2. Lactation length                        :           305 days
3. Dry period                                 :           60 days
4. Service period                           :           60 to 90 days
5. Calving interval                         :           12 to 14 months
6. Fat %                                         :           4.5 to 5%
7. Adult body weight                   :           275 to 300 kg
8. Utility                                        :           Dual (milk and draft)
9. Resistance                                 :           Tick and tropical disease and mastitis
10. Casein type                             :           A-2 Beta casein polymorphism
11. Adaptability                            :           Tropical climate
12. Life span                                 :           20 years
13. Number of calving                  :           15-16

Indian Breeds in Brazil
By genetic improvement in Brazil hey have developed Indian Gir, Kankarej breeds to provide

    In India large number of identifiable phenotypes of Indian breeds of cows had evolved to suit the natural conditions, over the last thousands of years. Let us not consciously loose this nature’s precious gift to our country.




Samriddha Ghosh said...

Hi, your article was useful. Thanks for the post. I would like to ask you about the source of the data provided at the end. And if you can refer me some articles regarding introduction of jersey's in india and their present status!
Thank you.

Predators said...

This is a native of Pakistan. The breeding tract of this breed was Montgomery district which is now named as Sahiwal district. By far it is the best breed of the subcontinent. The animals are usually long and fleshy and with heavier build. The milk yield ranges from 1,400 to 2,500 kg. The age of first calving ranges from 37 to 48 months and the calving interval is from 430 to 580 days.