Crossbreeding fiasco

  • 14/09/1997

The purpose of the crossbreeding programmes were two-fold - to upgrade nondescript Indian cattle by crossing them with superior indigenous breeds like Hariana, Tharparkar, Gir, Sindhi and Sahiwal, and to improve the latter by crossing them with exotic breeds like Jersey, Brown Swiss and Holstein to produce superior bulls for extensive natural and artificial insemination.

Scientific programmes to produce superior bulls of native breeds were initiated and a number of farms established. However, the number of bulls which could be bred fell far below requirements. Since there was no significant improvement in production, it was then decided to develop infrastructure for testing the performance of cows sired by superior bulls. The results of these schemes were not encouraging. Initial experiments failed because of disease problems like rinderpest and other killer diseases. The absence of deep-freeze facilities also contributed to the failure - semen could not be stored and by the time the bulls became available after tests, they were too old to donate semen.

From that point, the programme went haywire. Initially restricted, crossbreeding has spread indiscriminately all over the country, threatening well-adapted indigenous breeds. Moreover, successive generations of crossbred cattle have shown a decline in milk yield so that it is comparable to the milk yield of indigenous breeds, making the whole exercise pointless.

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