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Uttarakhand Set to Promote High Milk-Yielding Cattle

To propagate high milk-yielding varieties of “elite cattle” in the resource-crunched mountain state, the Uttarakhand government is set to apply state-of-the-art technologies. The move is aimed at checking forced migration from the hills of Uttarakhand by enhancing farmers’ income.

Animal husbandry, dairy development and cooperatives secretary R Minakshi Sundaram said. “The techniques we are employing to propagate the high milk yielding varieties of indigenous and cross-bred varieties of cattle -- cows and buffaloes -- are not new. We are, however, the first state government in the country to utilise those techniques.”

He also said, “Such elite indigenous and crossbred varieties of cattle will help increase the farmers’ income helping us to address the issue of forced migration from the hills.”

According to Sundaram, the scientific methods to be used to enhance the productivity of dairy cattle will be different from the artificial insemination (AI) technique although it will also be used as part of the new techniques.

He said, “It (AI) does help enhance the productivity of the milk producing cattle but this increase isn’t sufficient because it helps improve only 50% of the (male) genetic makeup while its female side is left unaddressed.”

The increase in productivity is “doubly quick when you have high milk yielding varieties of dairy cattle that are produced by quality female animals after they are crossbred with elite males”.

Sundaram said the emphasis of the new schemes was on producing as many as elite cows or buffaloes as required using super ovulation and embryo transfer technology, which leads to rapid genetic improvement.

“Unfortunately, in our country, such advanced technologies may not be propagated at the field level as we don’t have too many large scale dairy farms,” he said.

The official said, “So, we will use this advanced technology in the state -run animal breeding farm to produce multiple embryos through which female calves will be developed and reared and will later be sold to farmers.”

Farmers will have “such elite cows and buffaloes crossed with the semen of elite bulls through artificial insemination, which will result in birth of elite female calves with a potential to provide” high milk yield.

“This mechanism will help fill a critical gap in the dairy sector, which pertains to the non-availability of breedable female animals with a genuine milk production record. In other words, we are planning to come out with a set of elite animals available for sale to the farmers, so that the female side of the genetic makeup is also addressed,” Sundaram said.

The official attributed the low milk yield in the state to the practice of artificial insemination of the nondescript or low milk yielding animals with the elite animals.

Under the twin schemes “both crossbred and indigenous varieties of high milk yielding cattle will be propagated”.

To be implemented by the Uttarakhand Livestock Development Board (ULDB), one of these projects, under which the indigenous varieties of high milk producing dairy cattle will be propagated, is being taken up by the Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM).

The other project that aims to double the farmers’ income through “sale of high yielding crossbred heifers and cows” will be implemented under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (IRDF).

Referring to the Animal Breeding Farm at Kalsi near Dehradun, he said, “All experiments pertaining to the implementation of the twin projects are being carried out at the state run animal farm.”

Sundaram said in recognition of its work in improving the breeds of dairy cattle, Uttarakhand has been selected as the best performing state by the Central government.

He also added, “I have been invited to receive the award from the Union agriculture minister at a function to be held in the national capital on June 1.”


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