About 2,100 ‘desi’ (indigenous) cows, out of a total 6,000, that were artificially inseminated by the Punjab Livestock Development Board (PLDB) in the state on Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 last year, using mass synchronised oestrus technique, have conceived successfully.
With a view to encouraging farmers to prefer indigenous cow breeds over exotic breeds such as Holstein Friesians (HF) in Punjab, along with other states across the nation, the central government had initiated this mass insemination project.
The project was introduced to increase the population of ‘desi’ breeds like ‘Sahiwal’ and nondescript like ‘Tharparkar’ and ‘Rathi’, so as to compensate for their low yield.
Every district animal husbandry department had got targets to identify the indigenous cows in their areas with a maximum target of 1,000 cows from Fazilka, 800 from Bathinda and 600 from Faridkot as indigenous breeds mostly reared in these districts. While other districts have got the target of 100 to 400 cows.
Each veterinary officer had been given a target to cover 20 to 25 cows with a given schedule of looking after the cows and make farmers aware of the concept and importance of indigenous breeds.
As per information, this process of targeting female mammals to come to heat at the same time period which is achieved through the use of one or more hormones mostly used on HF cow breeds.
Officials said that as it was an experimental project, they are considering it a good success rate and in areas like Ferozepur, Fazilka and Muktsar, where these breeds reared hugely got good results.
“Picking 50% cows from Gaushala (cow shelters) was also the major reason that the project didn’t get that success but if we talk about farmers’ cows, more than 40% have conceived,” they said.
HS Sandha, CEO, PLDB, said this was a trial done basically to encourage the farmer community to give priority to indigenous breed and 35% of total cows they had inseminated, conceived successfully in Punjab.
As of now, on an average, Sahiwal produces only 7-8 kg of milk as compared to 25-30 litres by exotic breeds such as HF. Also their population, currently, is just 1.5% of the total cows in the state.
However, experts agree that indigenous cows produce less milk, but the quality of their produce is better than the HF cow’s milk, which has 3% fat while Sahiwal’s milk has 5% fat.
“Moreover, indigenous breeds are endowed with qualities of heat tolerance, resistance to diseases and the ability to thrive under extreme climatic stress,” they said.
Meanwhile, cows were injected with the best quality semen from pedigree breed to produce an elite class variety of indigenous cow breeds that could compete with exotic breeds in producing milk and all the expenses were borne by the government.