BREED IMPROVEMENT AND PRESERVATION
(By Member Secretary)
1. Origin of Cattle
2. Indian Cattle Breeds
3. Cattle Breeding Policies in the planning Process
4. Infrastructure for Cattle Development
5. Cattle Breeding Policy
6. Breeding Policies in the States – Questionnaire
7. Summary of information provided by the states
8. Need for conservation Cattle Resources
9. National Cattle Breeding policy
1. Origin of Cattle
1.1 Cattle are considered to have been one of the first animals domesticated by man for agricultural purposes. They were tamed to provide milk, meat and hides and for draft purposes. Where and when exactly this domestication started is not clearly documented historically, but it is thought cattle were probably first domesticated in Europe and Asia about 8500 years ago.
1.2 Domesticated cattle belong to the family Bovidae, which includes ruminants with paired, hollow, unbranched horns that do not shed and an even number of toes. Species belonging to the family Bovidae that are so closely related to true cattle that they can interbreed include the bison, buffalo, and yak. (For the purposes of this report, of course, the term ‘Cattle’ extends only to the Cow and its progeny).
1.3 Cattle belong to the genus Bos and there are two species tarus (which includes all breeds of British and European cattle like Angus, Hereford etc.) and indicus (which includes the humped cattle of the tropical countries like India and Pakistan). Many contemporary breeds are the result of crossing two or more of the older breeds. Purebred cattle breeds have been selectively bred over a long period of time to possess a distinctive identity in color, size, conformation, and function and have the prepotency to pass these traits to their progeny.
1.4 Zebu cattle breeds, such as Gir, Ongole (Nellore) etc., which are the humped cattle, originating in India, are thought to be the world's oldest domesticated cattle. They were introduced into the United States as early as 1849. The first importations of Zebu from India into the Western world, especially the American continent, were bullocks for draft purposes, but they later interbred with other cattle breeds and produced hybrids, which were bigger, faster growing, and more thrifty. These cattle often did better than the cattle, which the settlers from Europe brought with them, when they settled in America. In USA, Brahman Breeds, when have been developed from Indian cattle breeds and their germplasm, are the basis of a flourishing meat industry. In Latin America, several breeds have been developed from Indian cattle breeds like Gir and Ongole. The first Indian cattle landed on Brazilian shores in 1906 and it is ironical that, while the finest Indian zebu specimens can be seen all over Brazil, in their native country, India, they are very rarely to be found and are mostly confined to Government institutional farms.
1.5 Although Indian cattle and their germplasm are not officially being exported presently, on account the prevalence of a number of diseases in the country, there is still a demand for the germplasm to upgrade foreign stocks. Purely on the basis of development of cattle of Indian origin, especially the heavy breeds, Brazil has become one of the largest exporters of meat to the external world. The National Commission on Cattle is concerned with the issue of slaughter of cattle and feels that indiscriminate or clandestine export of live cattle or germplasm, ostensibly for breeding purposes should be stopped. Even if the cattle / germplasm is going for breeding, one should bear in mind that the breeding is only for the purposes of meat or beef production. In view of our feelings against cow slaughter in general, whether such slaughter occurs within the country or on foreign shores, we should not be instrumental in furthering such activities. It is not as if the country is losing millions of dollars in foreign exchange if the exports are stopped as the potential earnings are quite insignificant. On the other hand, a ban on exports would help to conserve our germplasm for further propagation and upgradation of our own genetic resources, which are fast depleting.
1.6 There is general concern (the world over) that the genetic variation within the few domestic animal species is disappearing through breed substitution and crossbreeding. Any reduction in the diversity of genetic resources narrows the scope to respond to changes in the environment, disease challenges, or demand patterns. In the tropics, however, the most serious concern is the imminent loss of locally adapted breeds. (Ref. Felius, Cattle breeds - an encyclopedia, 1995 – General Introduction).
2. Indian Cattle Breeds
2.1 India has a very rich reservoir of genetic diversity and possesses some of the best breeds of cattle and buffaloes in the world. The country’s population of 218.8 cattle accounts for 17% of the total world population of cattle. The best indigenous germ plasm of Milch, Draught and Dual purpose animals account for 22-25% of the Indian cattle population, while 7-10% of the Cattle population is cross-bred. Most of the indigenous breeds of cattle excel in draught capacity. The native livestock breeds exhibit a distinct superiority in utilizing poor quality feed and are adapted to withstand heat and show better resistance to tropical diseases.
2.2 The origin and important features and characteristics of the main indigenous breeds of Indian cattle are given in the Annex VII (1) of this Chapter.
2.3 Details of breeding tracts, important characteristics and other features of some of the important recognised breeds of cattle are given below:
Name of breed Breeding Tract Characteristics and important features
1. Gir Saurashtra region of Gujarat Gir cows are high milk yielders, milk yield ranging from 2000 kg to 6000 kg per lactation with fat percentage ranging from 4.5% to 5%. Bullocks are heavy and powerful draught animals.
2. Sahiwal Herds established in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. Sahiwal cows are well-known for their milking capacity. Milk yield varies from 2000 to 4000 kg per lactation, with fat content varying from 4% to 4.5 %.
3. Red Sindhi Number of Red Sindhi herds have been established in India. The milk yield varies from 2000 kg to 4000 kg per lactation, with fat content varying from 4% to 4.5 %.
4. Rathi Bikaner and Ganga-nagar Districts of Rajasthan, Sirsa Distt. of Haryana and part of Ferozepore district of Punjab. Good potential for milk production. Resistance to adverse climatic conditions of the desert area. Milk yiled ranges from 1800 kg to 3500 kg per lactation.
5. Tharparkar Tharparkar District of Sind (Pakistan) and Kutch, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer desert area of India. Bullocks are slow workers. Cows are good milkers, with average milk yields varying from 1800 to 3500 kg per lactation.
Name of breed Breeding Tract Characteristics and important features
6. Deoni Marathwada region of Maharashtra This is dual-purpose breed.
7. Haryana or Hariana Home tract is in Haryana State but the breed is found in U.P., Bihar and parts of Rajasthan. Bullocks are useful for ploughing and transport. Cows are good milkers. Milk yield is 1000 to 2000 kg per lactation.
8. Kankrej Bani tract of Bhuj District, North Gujarat and part of Rajasthan adjoining to Gujarat. Milk yield is 1500-4000 kg per lactation. Bullocks are strong and hard-working.
9. Ongole Guntur and Ongole Districts of Andhra Pradesh. Bullocks are useful for ploughing and cart-work / transport. Cows are fair milkers.
10. Red Kandhari Breeding tracts are in Marathwada region of Maharashtra Dual purpose and hardy in nature. Bullocks are good draught animals. Cows are good milkers.
11. Nimari Khandwa District of Madhya Pradesh. This is a dual purpose milk and draught breed.
12. Malvi Parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. A dual purpose breed.
13. Gaolao Found in Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra. Bullocks are useful for ploughing. Cows are average milkers.
14. Dangi Found in Western Maharashtra. Especially good for heavy rainfall areas for draught purpose.
15. Khillar Found in southern part of Maharashtra Bullocks are hardy and well-known for being fast in work.
16. Amritmahal Found in Karnataka Bullocks are well-known for draught power and endurance. Average milk yield is 1000 to 1200 kg per lactation.
17. Hallikar Found in Hassan, Mysore and Tunkur districts of Karnataka. Draught breed both used for road and field agricultural operations.
18. Kangayam It is found in Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu. Bullocks are strong draught animals. Their skin is very strong and tight.
19. Nagore Nagore District of Rajasthan. It is an excellent draught breed. Bullocks are good for draught purposes.
20. Bargur Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu Bullocks are good work animals.
21. Kenkatha Found along the Ken river of Banda District of U.P. and M.P. Bullocks are small but fairly sturdy animals and good for cultivation in rocky areas.
22. Siri Hill tracts around Darjeeling and in Sikkim. Bhutan is the real home of this breed. This breed can stand the rugged conditions of the mountains very well. Bullocks are eagerly sought after for draught purposes (ploughing and transport) due to their reputed great strength.
23. Bachaur Sitamarhi District of Bihar. Bullocks are used for draught purpose. Cows are poor milkers.
24. Kherigarh Kheri District of U.P. The cattle of this breed are very active and thrive on grazing only. Bullocks are good for light draught and quick light transport. The cows are poor milkers.
Name of breed Breeding Tract Characteristics and important features
25. Mewati West Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan. The breed is mainly found in Mewat region but is also known as Kosi. Mewati cattle are in general sturdy, powerful and docile and are useful for heavy ploughing, carting and drawing water from deep wells. Cows are said to be good milkers.
26. Umblachery Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. It is a draught breed of the Zebu type, similar to Kangayam but smaller. They are gray with white spots.
27. Krishna Valley Southern border of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Bullocks are powerful and good for heavy ploughing and slower draught purpose. Cows are fair milkers.
28. Ponwar Pilibhit and North West part of Lakhimpur Kheri District of UP. Draught purpose. Cows are poor milkers.
29. Vechoor Kerala Small animal. Bullocks are mainly used for draught purpose. Cows are poor milkers.
3. Cattle Breeding Policies and Programmes in the Planning Process
3.1 It is necessary to see how the issues relating to Cattle Breeding have been dealt with in the successive Plan periods starting from the First Five Year Plan. It is seen that, while the issue of surplus cattle has been handled in different ways in the various Plan documents, some discussing this issue at great length and other remaining completely silent on the subject, other issues such as cattle development, genetic improvement and breeding etc., have also received varying degrees of emphasis in the different Plans.
3.2 First Five Year Plan
3.2.1 The First Plan document speaks of the fact that the available feed could not adequately sustain the then existing bovine population and noted that, while there was a deficiency of good milch cows and working bullocks, there existed a surplus of useless or inefficient animals, and that this surplus was pressing upon the scanty fodder and feed resources. It was suggested that a programme for improvement of cattle should be launched, involving arrangements for production and use of adequate numbers of superior bulls of known parentage and productivity and elimination of inferior and unapproved bulls.
Key Village Scheme
3.2.2 It was envisaged that, under the Key Village Scheme, 600 centres would be set up in the Plan period, each centre with three or four villages having about 500 cows of over three years of age where maintenance of records of pedigree and milk production, feeding and disease control would receive full attention and techniques of artificial insemination would be utilised by setting up one AI centre for four key villages centres. Improvement of common grazing grounds, growing of fodder crops in suitable rotations, preservation of surplus monsoon grass, and use of untapped fodder resources were some of the key components of the Scheme.
3.3 Second Five Year Plan
3.3.1 The document for the Second Five Year Plan notes that the object of animal husbandry programmes is, inter alia, to increase the supply of milk, meat and eggs and to provide efficient bullock power for agricultural operations in every part of the country, which meant that the quality of the cattle was of critical importance to the rural economy.
Cattle Breeding Policy and Programme
3.3.2 The Plan paper documents the fact that there are as many as 25 well-defined breeds of cattle and six well-defined breeds of buffaloes in India, which are distributed in different parts of the country. High class specimens in each breed are limited in number and are found in the interior of its particular breeding tract, around which there are animals of the same type but of poorer quality. A few of these breeds are of the dairy type while a large majority of the breeds are of the draught type. In between there are "dual-purpose" breeds, whose females yield more, than an average quantity of milk, while the males are good working bullocks. It was found that the while the well-defined breeds are largely found in the dry parts of the country, over large parts of the country in the east and the south of India where rainfall is very heavy, the cattle are non-descript and do not belong to any definite breed.
3.3.3 The major guidelines of the all-India breeding policy, drawn up by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and accepted by the Central and State Governments were:
• In the case of well-defined milch breeds the milking capacity should be developed to the maximum by selective breeding and the male progeny should be used for the development of the nondescript cattle.
• In the case of well-defined draught breeds, the objective is to put as much milk-producing capability in them as possible, without materially impairing their quality for work.
3.3.4 Thus, the breeding policy was generally designed to increase the production of milk in the country, without affecting the position in regard to the supply of bullocks required for cultivation. In every draught breed there is always a small number which give more than an average quantity of milk and by selecting bulls from this group, the milk production of the population could be progressively increased by further selection and breeding. When this is done in the interior of the breeding tracts, the bulls produced can be used in the outer areas in order that general improvement may be brought about in the entire population.
3.3.5 For the implementation of this policy, each State was divided into zones according to the breeds used in them. Thus, in the districts of Ahmedabad, Kaira, Broach and Surat. the breed to be used was 'Kankrej'. In the western tracts of U.P. like Saharanpur, Muzaffamagar, Aligarh, Mathura, etc., the breed proposed to be used was 'Hariana'. In the hilly tracts such as Dehra Dun, Garhwal, Almora and parts of Nainital, where the cattle are non-descript, Sindhi bulls were to be used.
Key Village Scheme
3.3.6 t was envisaged that, mainly through the key village scheme, the programme of livestock improvement would be pursued by State Governments. This scheme provides for concentrated work in selected areas. It envisages castration of scrub bulls, breeding operations controlled by artificial insemination centres (each of which is intended to serve about 5,000 cows of breeding age), rearing of calves on a subsidised basis, development of fodder resources and the marketing of animal husbandry products organised on co-operative lines. During the first five year plan, 600 key villages and 150 artificial insemination centres had been established. During the second plan 1258 key villages, 245 artificial insemination centres and 254 extension centres were to be set up. The programme was intended to produce about 22,000 improved stud bulls, 950,000 improved bullocks and a million improved cows. The scheme made encouraging progress, but in respect of fodder development and the marketing of animal husbandry products not much headway was made. On the other hand, controlled breeding had found a large measure of acceptance and States had enacted the necessary legislation for implementing the scheme. In the early stages, work in many key villages and artificial insemination centres was delayed for want of equipment and shortage of staff, but everywhere the local people were willing to provide rent-free buildings and contribute in other ways to make the scheme a success. During the second plan, a great deal of attention was to be given to the fodder programme as this was an essential basis for the programme of cattle development. In each area efforts were to be made to develop the limited pasture lands which were available. With the large programme envisaged in the second plan, a high degree of urgency was attached to the provision of adequate staff, to better administrative planning of supplies and to public education in matters affecting animal husbandry development.
3.4 Third Five Year Plan
3.4.1 The Third Five Year Plan document took note of the seriousness of the problem of surplus and uneconomic cattle and arrived at the conclusion that weeding of inferior stock was a necessary complement to a programme of cattle improvement and systematic breeding. The Plan states that having regard to the size of the problem of surplus cattle and its special features, with a view to elimination of scrub male stock, it was proposed to undertake a large-scale programme of castration during the Third Plan. The programme envisaged that mass castration work would be initiated first, in areas in which intensive livestock development programmes have been taken up and would be later extended to other areas.
3.5 Fourth Five Year Plan
3.5.1 This Plan has not specifically discussed the problem of surplus cattle but has talked about the cattle development programmes launched in the previous Plan period. It was proposed that the schemes of the Third Plan including those relating to cattle breeding farms, bull rearing farms, Goshala development, control of wild and stray cattle and organisation of mass castration would continue and three central cattle breeding farms and eight bull rearing farms would be set up during the Fourth Plan period. It was also indicated that Sire-evaluation cells would be established in each State.
3.6 Fifth Five Year Plan
3.6.1 The document for the Fifth Five Year Plan has not mentioned the animal husbandry sector, and while discussing the perspectives on agriculture has singularly concentrated on food-grain production and related issues. Only in the Chapter on Plan Outlays and Programmes of Development, a small paragraph on Animal Husbandry and Dairy Farming find its place. Here it has been acknowledged that there had been some delay in giving a start to the special livestock development programmes through small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers. By and large, the targets under production oriented projects such as the intensive cattle development (ICD) projects were expected to be fully achieved. There were 85 subsidised projects for calf-rearing. It was envisaged that the emphasis would continue to be laid on cross-breeding of cattle through establishment of exotic cattle breeding farms and intensive artificial insemination measures.
3.7 Sixth Five Year Plan
3.7.1 While reviewing the position with regard to animal husbandry and dairying, the Sixth Plan document notes that the increase in productivity of cattle and buffalo received continuing emphasis since the advent of the Planning process and progressive introduction of artificial insemination technique using superior breeding bulls was the main plank for cattle development under the Key Village Scheme and the Intensive Cattle Development programmes.
3.7.2 The Plan document noted that several special livestock production projects through small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers were formulated based on the recommendations of the National Commission on Agriculture. Under this programme, 99 projects for subsidised rearing of cross-bred heifer calves were taken up in different States.
3.7.3 The document speaks of the need to increase the productivity of cattle by making concerted efforts to contain the increase in the population of cows and she buffaloes and to change the structure of these populations by replacing non-descript local stock by high-producing cows of indigenous breeds, cross bred cows and improved buffaloes. To achieve this, States were required to frame their breeding policies.
3.8 Seventh Five Year Plan
3.8.1 The Plan document for the Seventh Plan period speaks of the efforts to increase productivity of milch cattle in the previous Plan, through the establishment of 500 Key Villages and 122 Intensive Cattle Development projects. Cross-breeding with exotic dairy breeds was accelerated through the establishment of frozen semen stations in different States.
For increasing milk production and to improve draught power of bullocks, programmes for improvement of various breeds would continue, with emphasis on inputs like high merited breeding bulls, adequate and scientific feeding, modern management practices, provision of health facilities would continue and efforts would be made to bring at least 25 million cows under the cross-breeding programme.
3.9 Eighth Five Year Plan
3.9.1 In the Plan for the Eighth Five Year Plan, the need for paying special attention to technologies being developed to make activities in the livestock and dairy development sector economically more remunerative for the farmers. Emphasis was sought to be given to research in frontier areas such as genetic engineering which would provide for rapid upgradation of cattle through the use of Embryo Transfer Technology, development of more effective vaccines to control livestock diseases and so on.
3.10 Ninth Five Year Plan
3.10.1 The Ninth Plan paper documents a considerable improvement in production of milk during the previous Plan, which is attributed to the intensified activities particularly, in improvement of genetic stocks, through cross-breeding, effective control of diseases and the Operation Flood Programmes. The Ninth Plan sought to achieve the goals of doubling of food production and alleviation of hunger by adopting, for the first time a Regionally Differentiated Strategy based on the agro-economic and climatic conditions of different regions.
3.10.2 Animal Husbandry and Dairying, contributing about 26% of the total agricultural output was recognised as an important tool for generating employment and supplementing incomes of small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers. The specific areas identified for intervention and support included, scientific management of genetic stock resources and upgradation, breeding, producing quality feed and fodder and so on.
3.10.3 One of the key research areas identified under Animal Sciences discipline was Genetic resource enhancement of cattle and other animals, through selection / cross breeding / embryo biotechnology.
3.11 Proposals for the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007)
3.11.1 The major recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on Animal Husbandry set up by the Planning Commission for the Tenth Plan proposals, insofar as they relate to cattle development and breeding policies are as follows:
• A new programme focused exclusively on draught breeds of livestock may be initiated during Xth Plan.
• The National Project for Cattle and Buffalo breeding may be continued and the stipulations made for its implementation may be followed in letter and spirit to realize the envisaged targets. It is necessary that adequate budgetary support be provided to this scheme to enable sequential development of the breeding networks in a given time frame.
• A well defined livestock breeding policy is in place which states that pure indigenous well developed breeds should be improved through selection, while non-descript low producing populations should be improved by grading up with other superior indigenous breeds or crossbreeding with exotic males. It was observed that crossbreeding with exotic breeds is practiced even in home tract of elite important indigenous breeds. This is threatening the very existence of these breeds in their home tracts. It is recommended that the government should initiate steps to create incentives for breeding indigenous elite breeds and improve them through selection.
• An aggressive strategy is to be adopted to remove the hurdles in sourcing and use of quality bulls for breeding. Military dairy farms could be used as a major source of crossbred bulls. They can give 5,000-7,000 crossbred bulls every year for the national bull production programme.
• Monitoring cell for certification of sperm stations and A.I. bulls should be established in each state. Only certified semen should be used for A.I; where certification of semen is not possible, bulls may be used for breeding.
• Institutional arrangements for production and delivery of breeding inputs may be reviewed and restructuring as required may be adopted on priority basis. Government may withdraw gradually from the production and delivery of breeding inputs and create a congenial environment and play a supportive role for private operators to grow. Government should recover the delivery and input cost of A.I service on commercial basis. However, improved bulls for natural breeding could be distributed free of cost by the government for the benefit of poor farmers. Rearing of such bulls will be the responsibility of Panchayat / cooperative societies / NGO’s.
• Field AI network (A.I. outlets), sperm stations, breeding farms and breeding programmes (Performance Recording, Progeny Testing, ONBs etc.) should constitute focal points for monitoring efficiency and progress.
• Rapid computerization of the breeding network needs to be done in order to build up a reliable database and effective monitoring through a Management Information System (MIS) both at State and national Level.
• Under the prevalent conditions in the country, the conventional method of producing progeny tested bulls has failed to achieve the desired results. Advance technologies like ETT and OPU-IVF should be used to support this programme.
4. Infrastructure for Cattle Development and Breeding
4.1 Central Herd Registration Scheme
4.1.1 The Government of India, through the Department of Animal Husbandry, is running this Scheme, which envisages the registration of elite cows and buffaloes of breeds of national importance. The Scheme awards incentives for rearing of elite cows and male calves and provides a superior quality germplasm for superior breeding.
4.1.2 The Herd Book is a list of each breed, with milk production records and breed characteristics. Through a process of certification, elite breeds of cattle are identified for further breeding on a large scale, resulting in breed multiplication of superior stocks. The Scheme has a significant role in assisting the State Departments of Animal Husbandry, private sector players and Government undertakings in the procurement of elite dairy cows and buffaloes and using their progeny of high genetic potential for use in the cattle development programmes.
4.1.3 The main objectives of the Central Herd Registration Scheme are:
• To locate superior germ plasm of indigenous breeds in breeding tracts.
• To introduce milk recording for further propagation.
• To regulate sale and purchase within the country and abroad.
• To propagate and awaken consciousness among the breeders for scientific breeding, development and preservation of cattle, which would improve their (breeders’) socio-economic conditions.
4.1.3 The CHRS Units are located in Rohtak (Haryana), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Ajmer (Rajasthan) and Ongole (Andhra Pradesh). The indigenous cattle breeds covered by the Scheme are Gir, Kankrej, Haryana and Ongole
4.2 Cattle Breeding farms
4.2.1 Various breeds of national importance are being conserved at institutional and government farms in different parts of the country. A breed-wise list of the farms is given at Annex VII (2) of this Report. Cross-breeding Farms are at Annex VII (3) of this Report.
4.3 Central Cattle Breeding Farms:
4.3.1 For rearing bull mothers of different breeds, seven Central Cattle Breeding Farms (CCBF) were established from 1967 to 1975 at Suratgarh (Tharparker and its crosses with Holstein Friesian), Chiplima (Red Sindhi and its crosses with Jersey), Sunabeda (Jersey), Andeshnagar (Holstein Friesian X Tharparkar), Hesserghatta (Holstein Friesian), Dhamrod (Surti) and Alamadhi (Murrah).
4.3.2 The primary objective of the farms was to produce at least 10 progeny-tested bulls in each farm by maintaining about 300 breedable females. This objective was never achieved and the programme to produce progeny tested bull was abandoned in 1988. The other objectives like genetic improvement of bull mothers of important cattle and buffalo breed and supply of high pedigree bulls also failed to achieve the target. The Working Group on Animal Husbandry for the Tenth Plan has suggested that the goals of these farms should be changed and they should be used either for conservation of indigenous breeds which are at the verge of extinction or NDDB could take over these farms for implementing progeny testing programme using recent technologies like ETT /OPU-IVF.
4.4 Central Frozen Semen Production:
4.4.1 Central Frozen Semen Production and Training Institute established in 1969 at Hesserghatta is a premier Institute producing above 9 lakh doses of semen per year and imparting training to the field officers and veterinarians.
4.5 National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding (NPCBB)
4.5.1 The Project came into being in October 2002 by merging two Centrally-sponsored Plan Schemes viz. i) Extension of Frozen Semen Technology and Progeny Testing Programme and ii) National Bull Production Programme
4.5.2 The salient features of the Project are:
• The National Project on Cattle and Buffalo Breeding is expected to facilitate delivery of vastly improved artificial insemination (AI) services at the farmer’s doorstep.
• It is envisaged that all breedable females among cattle and buffalo population, would be brought under organized breeding within a period of 10 years.
• Genetic qualities and availability of indigenous breeds will be improved and important indigenous breeds will be preserved.
• 14000 AI practitioners are expected to be gainfully employed as a result of the project.
5. Cattle Breeding policy
5.1 According to the Working Group on Animal Husbandry for the Tenth Plan, the broad frame-work of cattle and buffalo breeding policy recommended for the country since the mid-sixties envisaged selective breeding of indigenous breeds in their breeding tracts and use of such improved breeds for upgrading of the non-descript stock. While the framework was accepted by the States, appropriate operationalisation of the same through field level programmes could not be done because of various reasons. Lack of interest in promoting Breed Organization / Societies and related farmers' bodies contributed to gradual deterioration of indigenous breeds. Majority of owners having indigenous breeds were not willing to accept AI, which was the major Government intervention for breed improvement. Eventually, the availability of good quality bulls needed for natural mating in the breeding tracts became scarce, leading to further deterioration of indigenous breeds in these tracts.
5.2 The Working Group further observes that large deviation from the laid breeding policy has occurred, which is quite obvious from the fact that crossbreeding which was to be taken up in a restricted manner and in areas of low producing cattle has now spread indiscriminately all over the country including in the breeding tracts of some of the established indigenous cattle breeds. Keeping In view current concerns for sustainability, maintaining environment and bio-diversity and conservation of energy, there is a rethinking on the development and use of indigenous breeds for milk and draught. The country since then has advanced in the area of newer reproductive technologies, which can be of tremendous advantage for rapid multiplication of elite germplasm. Therefore, a fresh look at the breeding policy is needed. The policy needs to be dynamic and consider, inter-alia, the demand for milk, requirement of draught animal power for agricultural and transportation purposes, need to conserve breeds in their breeding tracts, farming systems, production environments and availability of inputs as well as marketing channels. If such a policy does not exist, the same has to be evolved and followed consistently for a reasonable period, say twenty years, after which the policy may be reviewed.
5.3 As regards Breeding Strategies, the Working Group felt that programmes for genetic improvement undertaken in the past were not successful, particularly those relying on up-gradation of indigenous breed through continuous crossbreeding for lack of backup support in the feed and fodder resources. However, in States like Punjab, where average milk production of 2500 litre per lactation in crossbred cows can be achieved under field conditions, substantial progress been made.
5.4 Since most of the female stock is needed for herd replacement, accurate selection of sires assumes greater importance. But a feasible cost effective and proven method for general adoption in the country is yet to emerge. Any programme for genetic improvement needs an organization/set-up that goes beyond the individual/herd. Absence of breeders’ organizations and field recording network are serious handicaps in the emergence of viable and effective Breeding Service Organizations. Genetic measures undertaken to improve livestock will not be successful unless the livestock production system as a whole is considered. Availability of inputs and support services, marketing channels and economic viability will have to be considered as an important component of the whole system. Rapid genetic changes in livestock population for efficient commercial production will have to be brought about by a carefully planned and monitored process. Conditions congenial to private initiatives to aid the process for faster improvement in productivity will assume paramount importance because the central and state governments may not be in a position to provide financial support for programmes in the long run.
5.5 The Working Group further states that the efforts would need greater attention because breeding is a cost intensive, long-term exercise with a time horizon of 15 years in India. Unless those who undertake such breeding programmes do not have a full control over various facets involved for this period, they run the risk of wasting time, effort and resources. If livestock development sector is to be successful, in terms of generating income to farmers, returns to government expenditures, and in value addition in international prices, the focus of policy will have to shift from the “best” technology to the most productive technology that is appropriate for different regions and is in tune with their natural endowment and labour and capital resources.
5.6 Further, the adoption of appropriate breeding programmes and technology will result in accumulation of comprehensive field data on farmers' preferences, productivity of animals, cost of feed and other inputs, animal responses to nutrition, and other similar biological factors. A major systematic effort in this direction is required if an all round sustainable genetic improvement of cattle and buffalo is to be effected in the country.
6. Breeding Policies in the States
6.1 The Commission had sent out a detailed questionnaire to elicit information from the State Governments, NGOs and other institutions on various aspects of the issues given to it for examination in its terms of reference. The questions relevant to breeding, numbered 19 to 30, are reproduced below:
Extract from questionnaire
19. Does the State have a breeding policy for cattle? If so, please list its salient features. Attach a copy of the Policy document, if any.
20. Is the breeding policy tilted in favour of increasing the number of buffaloes in relation to that of the cattle?
21. Do you feel that farmers find it more profitable to keep buffaloes? If so, what do you think are the reasons? Is it because of the higher fat content of buffalo milk or the fact that buffaloes can be slaughtered for the meat and hides or both?
22. What are the major indigenous breeds of cattle prevalent in the State?
23. List the major features, strong points and parameters like milk yield, breed-wise.
24. Has there been a decline in the numbers of any of these breeds? Have any breeds become extinct or are nearing extinction? If so, name them, with numbers to show this finding.
25. What are the reasons for the decline, if any, in the numbers of indigenous breeds? What could be done to conserve and protect these breeds?
26. Is the State participating in the recently launched National Project of Cattle and Buffalo Breeding of the Central Government? If so, what are the projections / targets etc. envisaged? Please give details for cattle and buffalo separately.
27. Do you feel that the Project will fulfill its objectives? Have you any suggestions for improving the procedures, delivery systems and implementation of this Project.
28. Do you feel that artificial insemination is the best way of conserving or propagating indigenous breeds? What do you believe are the comparative advantages of artificial insemination over natural service or vice versa?
29. Do you believe that India should conserve its indigenous breeds (which have lower productivity but higher resistance to disease) rather than go in for massive cross-breeding with foreign strains to increase the milk-yield per animal, even though these breeds have less resistance to disease?
30. Do you feel that Integrated Livestock Projects, where farmers or farmers’ groups maintain different species of animals such as cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, poultry is a good measure for income generation, poverty alleviation in rural areas?
Answers of the State Governments
6.2 The answers to the question in serial order of the respective State Governments, who had submitted their filled-in questionnaires are given in statement at Annex VII (4).
7. Summary of Information provides by the States in answer to the questions on Breeding and other related issues
7.1 Breeding Policy
In answer to question No. 19, most of the States have indicated that they have a more or less well-defined Breeding Policy, with the main features being in consonance with the Central Policy, advocating cross-breeding in certain areas only with the exotic inheritance being limited to 50% in most cases and going up to 62.5% in a few cases. Goa does not have a Breeding Policy and Jharkhand is yet to evolve its policy. Mizoram does not have a Policy as such, but does have a Breeding Programme.
7.2 Tilt towards buffaloes
In answer to question No. 20, all the States, with the notable exception of Haryana have stated that there is no tilt in the breeding policy in favour of increasing buffalo population. Harayana has stated that because farmers prefer buffaloes there is an emphasis on increasing buffalo numbers in their policy and programme.
7.3 Reasons for decline –preference for buffaloes?
Responding to question No. 21, almost all the States have stated that farmers prefer to keep buffaloes due to various reasons ranging from easy manageability, high fat content of milk and availability for slaughter for meat and hides.
7.4 Important indigenous breeds
Questions No. 22 and 23 relate to the important indigenous breeds prevalent in various States and their main characteristics. Some States like Bihar, North Eastern States and Hilly areas do not have any recognised cattle breeds but have non-descript local varieties, which are being upgraded to increase milk yield by crossing with exotic breeds and some indigenous breeds as well.
7.5 Decline in numbers and reason; suggestions
In answer to Questiond 24 and 25, regarding decline if any in important breeds, several States have informed that the indigenous breeds are declining in numbers. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, Ongole pure-bred population is decreasing and the Punganur breed has almost vanished. Similarly, Haryana informs that the Sahiwal population has dwindled and Amritmahal in Karnataka is also reported to be declining in numbers. In Kerala, the Vechoor cow was almost on the verge of extinction and a programme for its conservation had to be launched by the Kerala Agriculture University at Thissur. The reasons given for the decline vary from indiscriminate cross-breeding to lack of grazing facilities, poor economics of maintaining some of the breeds and so on. Regarding the need for conservation of important indigenous breeds, most States have answered in the affirmative. Some States like Andhra Pradesh have given suggestions for conservation and improvement for important breeds like Ongole.
7.6 National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding
As regards participation in the National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding, in response to Question No. 26, all the States have indicated that they are participating. Union Territory of Chandigarh is not participating in this Project. Most States feel that the Project will fulfill its objectives, although a few States have refrained from commenting at this stage.
7.7 Artificial Insemination versus Natural Service
The States have been unanimous in stating that Artificial insemination has distinct advantages over natural service, being more cost-effective, hygienic and easy to deliver at farmer’s doorstep. For remote areas, where AI facilities are not available, Natural Sevice has been recommended.
7.8 Conservation of inidigenous breeds vis-a-vis cross-breeding with exotic breeds
The general feeling is that it is very important to conserve the important indigenous breeds of cattle, especially in their respective breeding tracts. However, a judicious mix of cross-breeding with exotic breeds has also been recommended, mainly for improving milk yields, especially of non-descript breeds, for some areas. The optimum level of exotic blood has mostly been recommended at 50%.
7.9 Integrated Livsestock Projects as instruments of poverty alleviation
Most of the States feel that such Projects are the best tools for alleviating poverty and providing income generation, especially in rural areas.
8. Need for conservation of Cattle Genetic Resources
8.1 As stated earlier, India has rich and diverse genetic resources, with some of the best breeds of dairy, draught and dual-purpose cattle being available. Despite the large number of good breeds, more than 80% of the cattle population belongs to the non-descript category. The important breeds are essentially the result of long-term natural selection and evolution over the centuries and are better adapted to withstand tropical diseases and perform reasonably well even with low inputs in terms of feed and fodder. There are 28 recognised cattle breeds as detailed earlier. An increase in the cross-bred population has been seen over the years.
8.2 It is apparently quite a paradox that, despite our huge population of cattle, there should be a need for conservation of breeds in India. This need has arisen owing to deterioration in the population due to inadequate inputs, dilution of breeds due to inter-mixing, indiscriminate infusion of exotic germplasm for cross-breeding for enhancing milk production, absence of specific strategies and programmes for conservation of indigenous breeds and loss of breeds due to geographical re-organisation. Breeding tracts and organised farms of some of the established breeds such as Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Tharparkar have been lost to Pakistan, for example.
8.3 On account of the prospects of quick economic gains, cross-breeding has encroached into even the native tracts of superior indigenous breeds, which has led to dilution of these breeds, some of which are threatened and heading toward extinction, if no action is taken to arrest this trend.
8.4 Even in the cross-bred strains, genetic stabilization is yet to take place as there is a very long and complex process. The effect of these changes on native breeds is to be studied in great detail, which has not been done so far. The male calves of crossbred cattle are generally considered by the farmer as inferior as they are not useful as draught animals. These calves are neglected and starved to death, or more often than not, sold for slaughter for meat and hides, illegally in most States. Since the question of sex determination and selection in cattle is not likely to arise in the Indian context, this is a serious problem that has to be addressed.
9. National Cattle Breeding Policy
9.1 As has been seen from examination of the successive Plan documents, the Planners had envisaged, over the years, the breeding policy for cattle was generally designed to increase the production of milk in the country, at the same time ensuring that the requirements for draught breeds for agricultural ploughing and transportation in rural areas, was adequately met. From the mid-sixties onwards, cross-breeding with foreign exotic strains was introduced on a fairly large scale, mainly to enhance production of milk.
9.2 On the basis of the recommendations of the National Agricultural Commission, a National Breeding Policy was evolved, which inter alia suggested:
i) Development of nationally important indigenous breeds of cattle, both for draught and dual purposed through selective breeding in their home tracts.
ii) Cross-breeding of low producing non-descript cattle with exotic dairy breeds.
iii) Continue inter se breeding among cross-bred cattle using pedigreed / proven bulls.
9.3 State Governments were required to develop region-specific strategies and detailed district breeding plans, in consonance with the national breeding policy. The fact that there is a distinct depletion in the resources and numbers of recognised indigenous breeds, which now constitute perhaps only 20% of the total cattle population, maybe even less, indicates that the respective State Governments have not been successful in conserving and preserving the good indigenous genetic germplams.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
The following are the recommendations of the Committee on Breed Improvement and Preservation.
1. Breeding Policy:
As stated above the broad features of the national breeding policy have been laid down. From sixties onwards there have been directions to State Governments to take measures to conserve the important national breeds. At the same time cross-breeding has been recommended as a major tool for increasing milk production.
The Committee makes the following recommendations in this regard:
• The Government should review its breeding policy and provide more emphasis to conservation of indigenous breeds. If required, a separate policy for conservation of indigenous cattle breeds and their germplasm should be drawn up and translated into an implementable programme.
• Cross-breeding with exotic strains should be totally banned in the home tracts of the important cattle breeds and the ban should be strictly got implemented by the State Governments.
• A judicious mix of cross-breeding with exotic strains and preservation of indigenous germplasm should be maintained, while formulating the policy. Import of germplasm should be allowed only in very specific cases and after taking all the precautions to prevent the ingress of diseases into the country.
2. Implementation of the Breeding Programmes:
The broad outlines of the breeding policy are normally laid down for the State Governments to follow. While there has been a clause prescribing conservation of the important native breeds, especially in their home breeding tracts, no follow up or monitoring is being done at the field level. While the Central Government has been recommending, since the sixties, that steps and measures should be taken to conserve Indian indigenous breeds, this has not been translated into programmes and activities on a sufficient scale, by the State Governments. Some State Governments have prepared breeding strategies and regional plans, and have also identified the areas of breeding tracts for different breeds, on the ground these strategies have not actually translated into proper programmes and plans of action, which could achieve the desired results.
The Committee therefore recommends that:
• A proper institutionalised monitoring mechanism be established from the Centre downwards, so that the implementation of the Breeding Policy directives is monitored closely.
• Directions should be given to the State Governments to draw up region-specific and breed-specific breeding strategies, programmes and plans to implement the conservation programme.
• Targets should be allocated to the concerned State Governments, in terms of actual numbers of cattleheads of the particular breed, infrastructure facilities such as sperm stations, bull farms etc.
• Regular review meetings should be held to consider the results achieved in terms of the physical and financial targets achieved, and corrective action taken wherever the targets are not met.
• The Centre in turn should provide adequate funding to the State Governments to implement the programmes and annual plans. Other sources of funding should also be tapped. (For example, the Haryana Government is reportedly collecting Rs 0.10 per litre of milk from Gopalaks / milk producers and the money goes into a fund, which is used to supplement the efforts for breed improvement. The Government expects to collect Rs 14 crore through this method).
3. Creation of scope for larger use of indigenous cattle breeds:
All the policy prescriptions and guidelines issued by the Centre had elements for conservation of indigenous breeds, their selective breeding for genetic improvement and use of indigenous breeds for upgrading low producing non-descript cattle in resource-poor areas. However, introduction of cross-breeding with exotic cattle even in such areas has seriously limited the scope of use of bulls of indigenous cattle breeds outside their breeding tract.
The Committee therefore recommends that:
• The States should be directed to specifically delineate and identify, in their respective breeding policies, the geographical boundaries of the areas where non-descript cattle should be upgraded by crossing with bulls of indigenous breeds.
• Once such areas are earmarked, no cross-breeding of non-descript cattle, other than with bulls of indigenous breeds, should be permitted. This measure will provide an incentive to the farmers in the breeding tracts to rear male stock of indigenous breeds up to the breeding age, as the demand will create a market for the bull semen or natural service. Consequently, the practice of disposing off the male calves for slaughter will be curbed to a large extent.
4. Supply of good quality breeding material in the breeding tracts
Due to, sometimes indiscriminate, cross-breeding, there has been a general lack of emphasis on selective breeding in the breeding tracts. The supply of good quality germplasm, to match the quality of breeding females, has also been lacking. Conservation efforts have mostly been limited to institutional farms with small herd sizes, leaving larger parts of the breeding tract totally neglected. This cannot be really termed as conversion in its true sense and, more or less, amounts to only providing lip-service for the cause.
The Committee, therefore, recommends the following:
• The status of the indigenous breeds needs to be evaluated afresh. This is not only because the composition of cattle in the breeding tract has changed, even the specimens and genetic make-up of the breeds have undergone changes over the past few decades.
• Breeds, which no longer find favour with the farmers, whatever the reason may be, should be identified and these breeds should be preserved only in the institutional farms, with improved conservation technologies.
• Breeds, which are accepted by the common farmer, should be developed through region-specific and breed-specific programmes, aimed at selection in the breeding tracts and supply of improved quality of germplasm for breeding of cattle for supply to farmers on demand.
• The progress of such programmes should be monitored through the institutional mechanism, recommended above to be set up.
• For sourcing cross-bred bulls, the Military dairy farms should be used as a major source of contribution to the Bull production programme.
5. Promotion of Breeders’ Organisations
Presently, the conservation of indigenous breeds is mainly in the domain of the Government and semi-Government agencies. Instances of owners of specimens of indigenous breeds forming an association to articulate the specific needs and demands for improvement of the particular breed are conspicuous by their absence. In contrast, breeders in other countries form strong proactive groups, which lobby for furthering their interests, as for example, the Brahman Breeders Association in USA. As Government moves towards privatisation in various sectors, cattle and livestock breeding should be encouraged in the private sector, with Government playing a facilitating role and providing infrastructural inputs, wherever required.
The Committee recommends that:
• Government should encourage and promote the organisation and establishment of breed-specific associations to represent the requirements for development of particular indigenous breeds.
• Such Associations can then form a Federation at the apex level to take up issues with the Government either at the State or Central level.
• Government should accept the private sector players as partners in the efforts towards conservation of Indian breeds of cattle and achieve better results by involving them in a participatory manner.
6. Enhancing the role of voluntary organisations - NGOs
There are a large number of Goshalas and, to a lesser extent perhaps, Gosadans and Pinjrapoles, which have quite sizeable populations of excellent specimens of various indigenous breeds. However, efforts made by such agencies towards conservation, are more often than not, not based on scientific methodologies. The efforts are also diluted by efforts towards supporting old, diseased and destitute animals, mostly of non-descript breeds. At present the terminologies of Goshalas, Gosadans and Pinjrapoles are often loosely used and are inter-changeable at will.
The Committee makes the following suggestions / recommendations:
• An inventory of Goshalas / Gosadans / Pinjrapoles having good specimens of indigenous breeds of cattle should be drawn up, alongwith the details and numbers of cattle-heads.
• Such organisations should be designated with some appellation, which would distinguish them from other organisations maintaining other non-descript, aged or infirm cattle. For want of a better name, maybe the term ‘Goshala’ could be used, with other organisations, not having the indigenous specimens, being termed as Gosadans or Pinjrapoles only.
• Each such designated organisation should adopt only one or two breeds, depending on the strength and composition of their herds, and segregate them from the other cattle, which they may like to continue to maintain as part of their animal welfare role. A specific breed-improvement/conservation programme should be drawn up for each designated organisation in consultation and collaboration with Government agencies.
• Such organisations can also participate in the Government-sponsored programmes for rearing of male calves from weaning to maturity, for breeding purposes. The male calves on becoming bulls can then be supplied to farmers and other clients in the breeding tracts for mating with breedable females and for upgrading non-descript breeds in other areas.
• The designated organisations should also be provided with scientific and technical inputs and training for genetic evaluation and selection of germplasm for breed improvement and upgradation programmes.
7. Use of Science and Technology
Since the advent and introduction of cross-breeding in the country, most of the techniques and methodologies for breed improvement have been used to produce cross-bred cattle. The application of such technologies for propagation and improvement of indigenous breeds, is a relatively rare phenomenon, one of the reasons for which may be the reluctance of the farmers, owning these breeds to accept modern methods and techniques for reproduction.
The Committee recommends that:
• Scientific and technological intervention in breeding programmes should be urgently taken up as a priority by the concerned Governmental agencies.
• Technologies such as artificial insemination, frozen semen production, progeny-testing, embryo transfer technology (ETT) should be used, after proper evaluation, wherever required, so that modern up-dated scientific methods can be used to give a fillip to the programme for conservation, preservation and upgradation of breeds.
• The comparative advantages of Artificial Insemination and Natural Service, should be studied and the appropriate method should be adopted according to the specific needs, requirements and location of different areas.
• Monitoring cells for certification of sperm stations and bulls for frozen semen, should be established at the State levels and only certified semen should be used for AI, as suggested by the Working Group on Animal Husbandry set up for the Tenth Plan proposals.
8. Statistical Date Base
Last, but by no means the least, the Committee would like to comment on the availability of data, or rather the lack of such availability, especially in the context of the breed improvement and conservation programme. The quinquennial Livestock Census, conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation suffers from all kinds of qualitative and quantitative problems, apart from lack of timeliness. While the 2002 Census is to take place, the data from the 1997 Census is still to be fully compiled and report prepared. Moreover, disaggregated data regarding particular indigenous breeds has not been collected.
The problems of lack of timely and quality data are further compounded by lack of perception of the data-collectors while categorising the breeds and quantifying their performances, particularly in the Integrated Sample Survey for Estimation of Production of Major Livestock Products, which is conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry of the Central Government, through their counterparts in the States. For example, there is a tendency to club both non-descript and good indigenous cattle breeds into a single category of indigenous cattle, resulting in distortions while recording parameters such as average productivity etc. There is also a lack of perception about the maximum and average productivity of crossbred cattle in various production environments. This has created the general notion that all indigenous cattle are poor yielders of milk and the average cross-bred is superior. On the contrary, the limited information available goes to indicate that quite a sizeable number of dairy cattle of indigenous breeds show much higher productivity than the average cross-bred cattle. This is corroborated by the production records available for indigenous breeds at selected Gaushalas, military farms, as well as by field samples, which often indicate much higher productivity of indigenous cattle than is shown in the results of the Integrated Sample Survey for estimation of milk production. The
Committee, therefore, suggests the following:
• A reliable data base should be developed with regard to all the details of indigenous breeds, including their breeding tracts, numbers, characteristics, genetic make-up, germplasm, the institutional farms where they are being preserved and / or conserved and so on.
• Data bases should also be developed with regard to non-descript , as well as cross-bred cattle.
• A proper distinction should be made in nomenclature and classification of indigenous breeds, especially the recognised breeds, separating them from non-descript varieties. This classification should be communicated to the data collectors at the filed level so that estimates of milk yield and other production data can be correctly collected.
• The Livestock Census must be conducted in a timely manner and, more importantly, the results compiled quickly. Results which come five years after the date of the census become meaningless for policy formulation and serves only as historical data. It is understood that a decision has been taken in principle to transfer the Livestock Census work to the Department of Animal Husbandry, but the staff and other infrastructure are yet to be provided. If this is so, the Committee recommends that the steps be taken for timely conduct of the transfer or there is a danger of the Census itself falling between two stools.
• While taking the Cattle census, the data-collecting agency should also gather details about the indigenous breeds, such as the name of the breed to which the specimen belongs, age, productivity etc.
• If it is not feasible to collect the detailed data through the Livestock Census, which is conducted by laymen, as is the population census, a special Cattle Census should be got conducted in all the States, especially in the major cattle populated areas and breeding tracts to collect all the details.
• The data of the Cattle Census should be fed into the data-base and then up-dated from time to time through surveys and other statistical methods for data collection.
• A breeding network should be set up by computerising and net-working all AI outlets, sperm stations, breeding farms and Goshalas and other agencies involved in the production of breeding material and implementation of breeding programmes. Activities such as performance recording, progeny testing, herd registration and sperm certification should all be computerised and connected with each other through the network.
• Monitoring of all aspects and facets of the breeding activities should also be done through use of the computerised mechanisms and networks.
The Member Secretary would like to place on record her gratitude to the officers of the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying and other Government Departments, who provided inputs for the preparation of this Report. In particular, Dr. Batobayal, Director (LP) deserves particular thanks for his technical inputs.
- ANNEX VII (1) Main Indigenous Breeds of Indian Cattle (289.28 KB)
- ANNEX VII (2) List of Cattle Breeding Farms of Indigenous breeds (16.55 KB)
- ANNEX VII (3) List of Cattle Breeding Farms of Cross breeds (13.9 KB)
- ANNEX VII (4) Responses of State Governments to the Questionnaire on Breeding (11.99 KB)