CATTLE BREEDING POLICY
Kerala never had a cattle breed of its own. The cattle were non-descript and low producers. The state has never been recognized as an area suitable for dairying. However the non-descript cattle evolved through natural selection extending over centuries were very well adapted to the warm, humid, disease prone situation in the state with scanty feed resources.
In the 1950’s, the government policy was to upgrade the local nondescript (ND) cattle using improved dairy breeds like Sindhi, from outside the State (Key Village Scheme). Based on the data from the military farms, the Government of India decided to experiment with crossbreeding, using exotic Jersey breed in selected areas. Accordingly, a crossbreeding programme was implemented in the State in Neyyattinkara and Chalakudy. Large-scale cross breeding using exotic breeds and AI as tool was however introduced in 1963 with the establishment of the Indo Swiss Project. The breeding activities were aimed at the evolution of a new breed combining the positive qualities of the local non descript cattle like adaptability, resistance to diseases, strong hoof, etc. and the high production potential of the exotic donor breed, Brown Swiss. Non-descript cows purchased locally and housed in the breeding farm were inseminated with frozen semen brought from Switzerland. Subsequently, Brown Swiss breeding bulls were imported in 1965 and frozen semen production started at Mattupatti.
The F1 and F2 generations with 50% and 75% exotic inheritance respectively were bred to produce the F3 generation with 62.5% exotic inheritance. The programme was to continue with inter se mating of the crossbred population so as to limit the exotic inheritance at the desired level. The Project studied the performance of Brown Swiss, ND cattle and their crossbreds with 50%, 75% and 62.5% Brown Swiss inheritance in the farm at Mattupatti before extending the breeding activities in the extension area. The working hypothesis was that a genetic makeup with 62.5% Brown Swiss and 37.5% local inheritance would be suitable. The level of exotic genetic inheritance of the new breed was fixed at 62.5%. Based on performance comparison of various blood level groups, the programme was later changed to limit the exotic inheritance to 50%. The major reason for this change was the absence of significant differences between the 50% & 62.5% groups and also the realization that breeding programme – to produce and maintain a population with 62.5% exotic inheritance at farmer’s level – was too complicated and practically not feasible. The breeding programme initially followed in the project is shown in the figure below.
Since the Indo Swiss project used the frozen semen programme for AI they could regulate the breeding as per a planned mating programme. The breeding programme was implemented by the ISPK in its extension areas in the early years using Brown Swiss breed. In the Northern districts the Departments of AH & DD were following a grading up programme using Jersey. There were different views about the suitability of the donor breeds. For a number of years, the breed barrier – “Brown Swiss and Jersey zones” – continued to be an issue. Subsequently during 1978 after the formation of the Board, the farmers demanded supply of semen according to their choice of breed and the Government decided to lift the breed barrier. Further, the Board was directed to make available semen from Brown Swiss, Jersey, Holstein Friesian and their crossbreds. These changes necessitated modifications to the breeding policy and the Government appointed an Expert Committee to examine the objectives and priorities of cattle breeding programme in the State (1979).
During 1980, the committee recommended a relatively simple programme to limit the level of exotic inheritance to around 50 % and practice intensive selection within the crossbred population especially the sires’ through progeny testing.
Some recommendations of the committee
- Limiting of exotic inheritance to around 50%
- Lifting of breed barrier
- Selection of bulls by progeny testing by young bull programme
A second committee reviewed the findings and on the basis of its recommendations, the Government issued formal orders on the cattle breeding policy for the state (1992).
Breeding policy - 1992
- Level of exotic inheritance to be retained at around 50%
- Progeny testing by young bull programme to be continued
- Jersey, American Brown Swiss and Holstein Friesian to be used for F1 production
- Preference to be given for Jersey in breeding ND cows
- Premium bull scheme to be implemented
- Herd book & breeders’ association to be established
- Multiple ovulation and Embryo Transfer to be adopted
- Karyological screening to be carried out
- Parentage testing of bulls to be done
- ND buffaloes to be upgraded with Murrah bulls
The lessons learnt during the implementation of the cross breeding programmes in Kerala were valuable inputs in the formulation of the National Livestock Policy. Another committee appointed by the Government to evaluate and formulate livestock breeding programme and policies in the State, suggested some modification (1998) and the report was accepted .
Modifications suggested in Breeding policy -1998
G.O (Ms) No. 144/98/AD dated 10.07.1998
- Brown Swiss as donor breed for F1 production to be withdrawn
- 20 % of exotic bulls used to be replaced annually
- Multiple Ovulation and Embryo Transfer to be adopted for bull production
- 2% of cows with low milk yield and 1% with delayed first calving age in the field to be removed and farmers adequately compensated
- Proven bulls of progeny testing programme to be included in premium bull scheme
Again in 2005, Government of Kerala constituted an Expert Committee to review the Breeding Policy that existed and to suggest changes. The report of the committee was examined, discussed in detail and approved as the Cattle Breeding Policy of the State 2008.
Breeding policy - 2008
G.O (Ms) No. 98/08/AD dated 13.06.2008
- Only Jersey and Holstein Friesian will be continued to be used as exotic donor breeds.
- The level of exotic inheritance be limited to around 50% in the small holding population
- Small farmers with good resources and farmers involved in commercial/semi commercial dairying to be provided with semen of high value pure breeds Holstein Friesian bulls under close monitoring by the State Animal Husbandry Department and KLD Board.
- Introduce F1 crossbred bulls produced by using donor exotic breeds on famous indigenous breeds like Sahiwal