1. The livestock sector has emerged as a vital sector for ensuring a more inclusive and sustainable agriculture system. Evidence from the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) 70th round survey showed that more than one-fifth (23 per cent) of agricultural households with very small parcels of land (less than 0.01 hectare) reported livestock as their principal source of income. Farming households with some cattle head are better able to withstand distress due to extreme weather conditions.
2. Growing population, changing lifestyles, expanding urbanization and accelerated climate changes are creating new challenges in Bovine breeding systems. In the past, the challenge was to ample feed, but now it is to provide essential nutrients to promote health especially reproductive health; and in the future, the challenge would be to provide optimal nutrients based on an animal’s genetic profile and productivity. Fortunately, along with challenges, the developments in science are creating new avenues for tackling the challenges.
3. Further, biodiversity of livestock, which is so crucial for sustaining long-term productivity, is also under jeopardy. The genetically uniform systems are vulnerable to external shocks under extreme weather conditions, emerging diseases and pathogens. In livestock sector, due to continued focus on exotic germplasm based cross breeding, the number of indigenous breeds with better adaptability, disease-resistance and feed efficiency ratio is declining. The situation is made worse by unregulated blood levels in the crossbred progeny, in attempts to increase milk yield indiscriminately. Hence it is the need of the hour to conserve and improve the productivity of Indian indigenous breeds. For accomplishing this task, the department is now therefore focusing on 100 percent Artificial Insemination coverage along with the application of advanced cutting-edge reproductive technology developments.
4. In this context, India is blessed with a huge biodiversity of 43 indigenous cattle breeds and 13 Buffalo breeds which have survived over last hundreds of years in respect of their suitability for specific purposes in the concerned local environment. The Department’s strategy is thus to enhance the average productivity of milk of select breeds from the overall available breed types (e.g. Gir for high milk productivity) from the present level of 4.85 kg per day to 6.77 kg per day per indigenous animal.