Genetic Improvement of Dairy Cattle and Buffaloes through Progeny Testing of Bulls

India is traditionally an agricultural country and animal husbandry forms the backbone of the livelihood security for more than 70 per cent of the population. Though the growth of agricultural sector was found a negative 5.2 % in 2002-2003, however, during 2004-09 the agricultural growth in India is increased at about 4.4 % per year. This is mainly because of livestock sector contributing steadily to the annual growth at thFe rate of 4.0 -6.5 % and about 8-9 % of the total national exports and as a result, the Govt of India has targeted about 4% growth in agriculture sector by 2012.

According to 17th Livestock Census ( 2003 ) estimate about 16.21 and 58.21 per cent of world cattle and buffalo population are available in India. The total bovine ( cattle and buffalo ) population is about 62.91 % of the livestock of the country and the cattle and buffaloes are 185.181 and 97.922 million, respectively. Among cattle population, only 5.20 % population are considered as crossbred whereas 94.80 % are indigenous animals.

The trend of breedable bovine population including heifers shows an overall increase of 59.00 % for crossbred animals, 35.77 % for indigenous cattle and 95.22 % for buffaloes during 1951 to 2003 in the country. The zone-wise bovine population  shows that north zone including Haryana, possesses highest number of buffaloes, south zone have largest crossbred cattle where as east zone have maximum number of indigenous cattle population. Though it is credible that district wise livestock census has been documented by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of Agriculture, GOI, however, it is imperative to complete the breed-wise survey of cattle and buffalo population at the earliest in different districts to assess the actual dynamics of breed wise livestock population for various states.

Milk Production and Its Trend In India

India with a production of 110 million tones of milk in 2008-09 is the leading country in the world in terms of total milk production. In 2007, the country contributes about 15.60 % of the world’s milk production. The annual growth rate of milk production increased from 2.91 % in 5th Five Year Plan ( 1975-1979 ) to 6.65 % in 10th  Five Year Plan ( 2002-2007 ) in the country. From 1951 to 2009, the growth of milk production has jumped more than six times and as a result the per capita availability of milk has anticipated to gone up to 261gm milk per day in 2008-09.

The trend of milk production in the country indicates that of the estimated total milk production about 39.71 % and 54.47 % milk are produced by cows and buffaloes and the rest of the milk produced by goats. The crossbred cows contributed about 24 million tones of milk. Though the population of crossbreds is only 12.08 % of cows in the country, however, the contribution of crossbred cows is about 44.67 % of the total cow milk which indicate that we can not simply ignore the crossbred population in some agro-climatic zones of the country. The zone-wise milk production shows that only 16 states of India produce about 94.67 % of the total bovine milk, while remaining 5.33 % of  bovine milk is produced by 12 other states and 7 union territories. The demand of milk and milk products in India is projected to increase to 142.9 million tones in 2015 and further to 191.3 million in 2020.

With the increase in domestic and international market, the demand of milk is expected to grow as the dynamics of population growth, urbanization and income levels are continuously changing in our country. For tapping the economic benefits of growing demand of milk and milk products, the Indian dairy sector has to gear itself to meet the challenges by increasing the milk production at the higher rate than the existing growth, increase the production of value added dairy products and provide complete quality assurance. As the milk productivity of our animals is low and high variability in the economic traits of cows, there is a vast scope for improvement of the milk production and consequently marketable surplus of milk for processing by systematic implementation of genetic improvement of cattle and buffaloes through progeny testing and building the capacity of different states, union territories, government institutes, dairy development agencies and public-private partnership for overall improvement of dairy animals in the country.

Genetic Improvement

The genetic improvement of dairy animals depends on animal breeding technologies. In most of the developing countries including India the animal breeding technologies are neither advanced nor widely adopted because of considerable geographical variation in environment, fragmented farming mostly at a subsistence level, substantial livestock genetic diversity, lack of awareness of rural households and many other problems directly and indirectly associated with the genetic improvement of animals. As a result, in spite of some important genetic resources available in the country, the productivity of dairy animal in general is very low in India in comparison to the dairy animals of developed countries. Thus, the reasoning for genetic improvement of dairy cattle and buffaloes would be critically differentiated in institutional / organised herds and field condition in our situation.

The Genetic Improvement of Dairy Animals Involves

  • Breeding goal of dairy animals
  • Types of genetic resources
  • Dairy animal breeding policy and programme
  • Scientific interventions and human resources
  • Performance recording
  • Progeny Testing - Evaluation of breeding bulls
  • Use and dissemination of superior germplasm
  • Exploiting the future animal breeding technologies