A new bovine fertility technique, being implemented for the first time on a commercial basis in India, promises to turn this into a land of plentiful milk, and usher in a “second White Revolution.”
A research and training institute on animal husbandry, run by the JK Group, has launched a first-of-its-kind initiative to produce IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) embryos of indigenous cow breeds on a large scale.
This step has been taken in order to protect indigenous cow breeds and the programme is aimed at boosting milk production from cow breeds, like Gir, Sahiwal, Ongole and Tharparkar, by creating IVF embryos that can either be planted in surrogate females or be frozen for future use, a first in the country.
Developed at the Vijaypat Singhania Centre of Excellence for Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Livestock, the programme allows scientists to create an embryo outside the womb by a complex system of in-vitro fertilisation.
Dr Shyam Zawar, CEO of the Trust, said, “JK Bovagenix (the name of the programme) has established 14 pregnancies through fresh embryos and 14 through frozen embryos in the last three months since its inception. The first batch of IVF calves are expected to be born this year.”
“There are several advantages to indigenous breeds such as their resistance to the harsh weather, ticks and disease resistance. However, in places like Brazil, the Gir has been known to produce 2.5 times the amount of milk than in India. We are seeking to change that and in line with the centre’s Rashtriya Gokul mission, we are targeting a thousand pregnancies by the end of this year, and ten thousand high-quality calves by the end of five years,” added Zawar.
It is for the first time in India that the IVF technology is being used in indigenous cattle breeds. In 2012, a calf was born with this technique but the attempt was unsuccessful.