In a technique that can help lower the shortage of milk during summers, synchronised conception of milk-yielding animals is catching on among dairy farmers in Punjab.
Synchronisation is the process of simultaneously bringing a group of animals (mostly cows and buffaloes) to the sexually receptive stage (oestrus). Oestrus is the phase when the animal is artificially inseminated by veterinary experts.
"In the absence of synchronisation, a dairy owner has to keep a watch on all animals to detect which ones are ready for pregnancy. Synchronised conception makes the task much easier," said Dr Parkash Singh Brar, an expert in veterinary gynaecology and statistics at Guru Angad Dev Animal and Veterinary Sciences University (GADVASU) here.
University vice-chancellor Dr VK Taneja said buffaloes, the main source of milk in Punjab, were generally "shy breeders". These animals do not exhibit overt signs of oestrus and normally come in heat in the winter, he added.
"There is a glut of milk during winters and great shortage during summers. Synchronisation will bring uniformity, resulting in similar production in both seasons," he said.
Though the Punjab veterinary department had recommended this technique for dairy owners in 2003, the latter were initially reluctant to adopt it. As per a survey conducted by GADVASU, of the 150-200 big dairies running in the organised sector, more than 80 have adopted it in the past three years.
Surinder Singh Dhindsa, an NRI dairy farmer from Rehtan village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr) district, stated that earlier, trained personnel were required for the detection of oestrus in dairy animals at least thrice a day and also for insemination. "The synchronisation technique reduced 50% of my effort to monitor more than 200 buffaloes every day," he said.
GADVASU experts say that a special hormone is injected into animals during synchronisation, which pushes up the pregnancy rate to 60-65% compared to the normal rate of 40-50%. It costs a farmer Rs. 500 per animal for implementing this technique.