"Native cow breeds more resilient to climate change than the hybrid ones"

Scientists working with Bareilly-based Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) have long been engaged in researches upon native and hybrid cows to prove that the native cows adapt easily to every weather change

Diti BajpaiDiti Bajpai   12 Sep 2019 11:17 AM GMT

Native cow breeds more resilient to climate change than the hybrid ones

The entire world faces the effects of global warming. They are not just limited to human beings but are seen in the milk yielding cows as well.

Scientists working with Bareilly-based Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI)have long been engaged in researches upon native and hybrid cows to prove that the native cows adapt easily to every weather change.

"The climatic change would result in lesser fodder for the animals, unavailability of pure water, increase in parasitic diseases due to mosquitoes, flies and lice, decreased fertility and reduced milk production. In such a scenario, the native breeds of cows like Sahiwal, Gir and Tharparkar would be far more adaptive to the rising temperature than the hybrid cows," Dr Ashok Tiwari, head of the department at IVRI's biological standardization unit informed Gaon Connection over phone.

With the aim of promoting climate adaptive farming and animal husbandry, the Indian government is running National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA). Under the project, many national institutes are engaged in scientific research.

Cows kept for six hours at an increased temperature

"Our institution has been engaged in the research upon the native breeds of cows for several years now. We have special psychometric chambers installed to ascertain how far a cow is suited to the rise in the temperature. These had groups of ten cows each, including native and hybrid cows, which were kept in the chambers for 6 hours at an increased temperature. Whatever changes occurred were carefully observed, recorded and analysed," he added.

A committee headed by the senior minister of agriculture, Murli Manohar Joshi, presented a report in the Parliament a few months back as per which ignoring the effect of climatic change upon milk production would result in the fall of about 1.6 metric tonnes in the milk production by 2020, which may plummet further to a loss of 15 metric tonnes by 2050. In this situation, native cows would only be effective.

Special genes of native cows

The IVRi's scientists took blood samples of cows during temperature-rise. During this, native cows showed some special genes which develop in them the ability to withstand higher temperatures. As per the genetic study conducted by Dr Tiwari, it was established that the hybrid cows cannot withstand higher temperatures with ease.

In Uttarakhand's Kalsi Block of Dehradun District, there has been undertaken the conservation and protection of the Red Sindhi and Sahiwal cows. This is the country's first such farm where the conservation effort is being made to protect the nearly extinct breed of Red Sindhi cows.

The Centre's farm manager Dr Ajay Pal Singh Aswal informed, "The way temperatures are rising, some places are reporting water shortages. The animals are facing an increased risk of diseases.At times such as these, native cows like Gir, Sahiwal andRed Sindhi, are all good choices because even in 45-46 degrees temperature, they eat and produce milk."

He added: "Native cows being well adapted to the climate rule out any disease's risk. Unavailability of good quality fodder due to water shortage also doesn't affect the animal of these breeds as much as well as its milk production."

The native cows of India, including Gir, Sahiwal, Tharparkar, require very low upkeep and yield better milk even in adverse conditions. But the government, during a particular phase, promoted foreign breeds over these most of which didn't even fare well here and the native cow breeds also got spoilt due to cross-breeding. Today, our native breeds are giving out good yields of milk in foreign countries.

Native cows producing double the amount of milk in Brazil

Recently back from a trip to Brazil, Dr Ajay, sharing his experiences, said: "Certain countries took our native cows about 50 years ago and those countries today have doubled or even tripled their milk production. I give you Brazil's example. Their livestock exceeds that of ours, their cattle population is 210 million out of which 85%cattle belong to Indian breeds. Their Gir cow yields 20-24 kgs milk. Brazil's Indian cow's per cow yield is double than its Indian yield."

Vaccines shall be ready soon

Besides Sahiwal and Tharparkar cows, the IVRI scientists would study the effect of higher temperature on other native breeds which would enable them to create a vaccine protecting the animal against pests menace brought on by the temperature rise.

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