New sex-sorting tech to multiply milch animal count

September 19, 2022

An indigenously developed, relatively inexpensive technology, which could lead to proliferation of female calves via artificial insemination will be available to India’s dairy farmers by the end of this year. The technique of sorting out ‘Y’ chromsomes – which causes birth of male calves – from processed semen of bulls, is expected to multiply population of milch animals and increase their productivity.

The sorting technology has been developed by NDDB Dairy Services (NDS), a subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), in collaboration with Bengaluru-based Jiva Science, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai and the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru.

The cost of the sexed semen developed using the technology would be around Rs 250 per dose, much lower than the imported sexed semen which is priced at Rs 1,500-2,000 per dose.

At present, sex sorting technology for bovine semen is sourced from the US-based Sexing Technologies and supplied in country through ST Genetics India.

In the absence of sex sorting, the chances of production of female calves via artificial insemination (AI) is around 50% only.

“Our field trials in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu show a success ratio of an animal delivering only a female calf is in the range of 88-90%,” CP Devanand, Deputy MD, NDS, told FE. He said so far, 25 female calves have been produced using this technology. “We will be launching the technology commercially by this year end,” he said.

“The dairy farmers can raise the herd more quickly and internally with the application of sexed semen. The amount of undesired male dairy calves is also reduced owing to this technology,” according to an official note of department of animal husbandry.

NDS currently manages four semen stations located at Sabarmati Ashram Gaushala near Ahmedabad, Animal Breeding Centre near Lucknow, Alamadhi Semen Station near Chennai and Rahuri Semen Station near Pune. These stations produce around 50 million semen doses of high yielding indigenous cows, cross breeds and buffaloes under the brand ‘Superior Animal Genetics’.

Annually around 120 million semen doses from bulls are produced across 54 semen production facilities in the country.

India ranks first among the world’s milk producing nations since 1998, when it surpassed the United States as biggest producer of milk. Milk is the single largest agricultural commodity in the country valued at Rs 9.32 trillion at present.

India’s milk production has grown at a compound annual growth rate of about 6.2% to reach 209.9 million tonne (mt) in 2020-21 from 146.3 mt in 2014-15. There are around 80 million farmers are engaged in dairying with an average herd size of 2-3 animals.

In order to improve productivity and enhance milk production, under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission for genetic upgradation of bovine population and development and conservation of indigenous bovine breeds, the government has allocated Rs 2,400 crore during 2021-22- 2025-26.

Under the mission according to official, several technologies – AI, sex sorted semen, in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology, genomic selection etc are being provided to farmers. Officials the government’s aim is to increase milk production close 300 mt in 2025-26.

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