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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

In Maharashtra: ‘Sex determination’ tests, not just for humans, but cows too

Beef ban effect: More bulls are being abandoned, which has led the Maharashtra government to develop ways to help cows beget only female calves

mumbai Updated: Apr 28, 2017 12:09 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
The cost of setting up the laboratory is around Rs8 crore, which will be borne by Maharashtra.
The cost of setting up the laboratory is around Rs8 crore, which will be borne by Maharashtra.(HT File Photo)

The state government is considering setting up a laboratory with American technology that helps cows beget only female calves. The decision is being taken amid rising cases of bulls being abandoned after the beef ban imposed in the state two years ago. The animal husbandry and dairy development department is planning to distribute the sorted semen straws, which will ensure the birth of only female calves.

The government is also considering roping in NGOs or social organisations working in the field to get assistance from them. The cost of setting up the laboratory is around Rs8 crore, which will be borne by the state. The Punjab and Karnataka governments have already introduced this technology in their states.

The government will produce vials containing 0.25 to 0.5 ml ‘sexed semen’ to be distributed to the villagers through the veterinary dispensaries. The government claimed that with a success rate of 90%, the technique will help produce cows in big numbers, thereby increasing farmers’ milk production.

“We have decided to set up a laboratory at Pune. Our officials with expertise in this sector have been asked to develop the technique. This will help boost farmers’ income and solve the problem of maintaining bulls,” said Mahadev Jankar, animal husbandry and dairy development minister.

The farmers and the organisations representing them have been claiming it has become difficult for them to maintain bulls after the government banned their killing. There have been case of bulls being abandoned and killed immediately after their birth. The farmers also say the daily expenditure to maintain the bulls is around Rs150 and the yield from the bulls is too low.

While talking about the technique, an official from the department said, “The sexed semen is created by separating X and Y chromosomes and by destroying the latter to ensure the birth of female calves. The vials or the straws of the semen are maintained at -196 degrees Celsius and transported to the village-level clinics. The sexed semen is then used for the insemination. Although the charges are yet to be decided for the vials, the government will subsidise it,” he said.

Animal activists, however, have welcomed the step. Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs of PETA, said, “Most male cows and buffaloes are sent for slaughter or left in a corner to starve or be abandoned. We support any policy decision aimed at saving animals’ lives. The sexed semen technology will at least save some male calves from abuse.”

First Published: Apr 28, 2017 12:08 IST

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