livestock breed improvement

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livestock breeding

By Tahir Ali Khan

IMPROVING livestock breeding is a critical issue in raising milk and meat production but not enough is being done to increase productivity of farm animals.

The livestock sector is characterised by delayed puberty, low reproductive efficiency and low production of milk and meat. Better breeding is included in the federal livestock department’s programme, but there is no sign of it being taken up any time soon.

High reproductive efficiency requires more semen production units, increased artificial insemination (AI) centres, embryo transplant technology (ETC) and provision of quality feed to animals which necessitates investment both by government and private sector. Ironically, there is only one ETC at a military farm in Islamabad.

Reproductive efficiency could be achieved in two ways: by utilising semen from proven bulls through AI and/or through embryo transplantation technique wherein embryos from best female are collected and implanted in other female animals.

AI is extensively being used for genetic up-gradation worldwide. Through AI, a bull can produce more than 500,000 calves in his lifetime. In Pakistan, AI began in 1954 but currently it covers only about 10-15 per cent of cows and buffaloes in the country.

As far as ETC is concerned, experts say, both surgical and non-surgical methods are used for embryo transplant but the latter is preferred in cattle and buffaloes. Embryo transfer increases reproductive capacity of female animals. Generally, official data says, 15-30 calves per annum can be obtained from a genetically superior female cow/buffalo against getting the normal one calf per 12-18 months as usual.

Delayed puberty and reduced progeny level is mainly caused by poor feeding. These factors reduce milk production/duration. It is estimated that during the productive life, each animal losses two to three lactations due to poor reproductive efficiency.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 5.97 million cattle, 1.93 million buffaloes, 3.36 million sheep and 9.6 million goats, but none of the species have been utilised to produce genetically superior and high yielding species with high reproductive efficiency on mass-scale so far.

Dr Ghulam Muhammad, a local livestock expert, says: “Breed improvement can tackle the problem of low productivity. The local breeds attend puberty fairly late – in about 24-36 months as against the cross-bred ones which reach puberty in about 9-12 months. Similarly, the average milk production of local breed is 900 litres per lactation while that of crossbred ones is 1740 litres/lactation (an increase by 93 per cent). Besides, the latter are heavier and healthier than the local ones. This can substantially increase the income and prosperity of farmers.”

Pakistan is blessed with the best buffalo/cattle breeds of the world –Azikheli, Nelli-Ravi and Kundi buffaloes and Achai, Sahiwal and Red Sindhi cows- which can be utilised for their reproductive efficiency. Similarly, the cross bred Friesian and Jersey cows also can be adapted.

The livestock, particularly cows and buffaloes are mal-nourished and millions of animals die of it in the country each year. To overcome this problem, wastelands should be developed into pastures and communal grazing should be evolved, small enterprises for compound feed manufacturing should be introduced and research institutes may be asked to develop and inseminate high yielding fodder varieties.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa department of livestock has 1,042 veterinary institutions, 361 AI centres, two SPUs and two liquid nitrogen plants, four demonstration and breeding farms, one each for cattle, buffalo, sheep and poultry, in the province. But breeding programme is still in its infancy here. Because of weak coordination and communication between farmers and the department, the former have scarcely benefited from these facilities.

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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

4 Responses to livestock breed improvement

  1. iqbal says:

    a good article. keep it up tahir wrora. Would you please guide me which type of cow breed is suitable for our climate i.e Mardan/Swabi and whether is it economicaly viable to launch a quality breeding farm and how. where to get technical knowhow and assistance. thanks

    • Thanks. Contact the livestock department offices anywhere, preferably their head office located near Jinah Park Peshawar. You can also contact the Harichand dairy and cattle farm for the purpose. You will have a lot of support from there. I am there if any problem surfaces in the meantime

  2. asghar ali says:

    Breed improvement(b.i.) is possible through dedicated and honest approach. its tragedy in Pakistan that people working in this very imp. field are working under very poor conditions , particularly in Punjab , the biggest province of Pakistan. there are departmental clashes in which B.I. people are always looked down upon.they have no proper buildings and have to rely upon the veterinary buildings for their work and have to face grudge of people not included in breed improvement wing. officers are biased and corrupt.they ignore the workers who run their bikes for more then 150km in jungles, villages , to provide a.i. service to the people at their door steps to inseminate their cows and buffaloes. all funds are looted and plundered and totally mismanaged as higher ups make projects without active involvement of real field workers and their suggestions.this results in wastage of money and zero net shell result on ground. livestock officers are scientists and not merely bosses. but here in livestock dept. officers behave like bosses and result is eye wash dramas. but despite of it whole credit goes to field workers , veterinary doctors and a.i. technicians only who first introduced this service in 1972 against bitter opposition of religious people and later on worked day and night to spread the a.i. across the country and gave results.

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