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1. What is the specialty of the Sunandini breed?

Sunandini is a minor miracle of sorts wrought by the Kerala Livestock Development Board and the dairy farmers of Kerala over the last four decades: a new breed of dairy cattle custom made for the God’s own country: Kerala. There are of course many examples of new breeds of cattle created in the developed world during the 19th and some in the 20th century, but nothing comparable in size (over 2 million individuals in the population) and economic importance: the mainstay of the dairy industry in Kerala, major livelihood support for over a million small holder households and a whopping Rs.2700 crore contribution to the state GDP annually!

Sunandini is a combination basically of the Kerala non-descript cow and the Brown Swiss and Jersey breeds, developed initially under the Indo-Swiss Project Kerala and later with contributions of Holstein Friesian in small measure and with some inputs of Sahiwal, Gir, Rati and Kankrej breeds. For over forty years the male and female of this mixed breed had been mating among themselves (genetic isolation) under a well-planned breeding programme with moderate to intense selection pressure. In the development programme of Sunandini, there is no further input of Brown Swiss while there are increasing inputs from HF and Jersey according to changing preferences of the dairy farmers. Under this careful breeding programme the production parameters of this breed / population had steadily improved in terms of milk yield and sustainability.

Through the implementation of a scientific and structured breeding programme, the genetic architecture of the cattle population of Kerala changed - 78 per cent of the cattle were converted into the new breed, Sunandini by the year 2000 – increasing the total milk production to 26 lakh tonnes.

2. What is the Breeding policy of Kerala?


Intensive and structured breeding programmes taken up in the State during the last 3 & 1/2 decades have considerably increased the milk production. The accepted breeding policy of the State envisages crossbreeding, limiting the exotic inheritance to around 50% followed by selection and inter se mating The new 'composite breed' of cattle evolved by crossing nondescript cattle with exotic donor breeds (Brown Swiss Jersey and HF) limiting the exotic inheritance to 50% was formally named Sunandini.


3. What is Progeny Testing Programme and what are its activities in Kerala?

In order to assess the breeding value of the Sunandini bulls for milk production, the Board started a progeny testing programme during the year 1977 based on a field milk recording system. This is a joint project of the State and the Central Government. The ICDP regions of Mavelikara, Kanjirappally, Vaikom and Kattappana were selected for carrying out the inseminations using semen from the young Sunandini bulls (test bulls .

The factors influencing the selection of those areas were :

i) density of cattle population
ii) diversity in the geography among the locations
1500 test inseminations are being carried out using semen from each bull tested with the intention of obtaining at least 50 completed first lactation records from the progeny.

4. What is the production performance of Sunandini cows in the field?

The production performance of daughters of test bulls is shown below:

 

Batch no *

No. of daughters

Milk (kg)

Mean

SD

I

642

1603

539

II

212

1557

470

III

759

1719

527

IV

717

1748

514

V

2157

1713

530

VI

1327

1765

574

VII

1451

1726

523

VIII

1861

1811

555

IX

1847

1839

544

X

1910

1843

570

XI

1715

1968

551

XII

1466

2074

620

XIII

1760

2038

587

XIV

1536

2144

581

XV

1521

2147

545

XVI

1550

2233

584

XVII

1412

2256

606

XVIII

1534

2488

694

XIX

1598

2499

725


 

5. What is the age at first calving of Sunandini cows under field conditions?


Age at first calving (months) of Sunandini Cows – PT unitwise

 

PT Unit

2000

2001

2002

N

Mean

SD

N

Mean

SD

N

Mean

SD

Mavelikara

764

35.79

7.75

822

35.67

8.38

808

32.47

6.6

Kattappana

316

43.55

10.34

310

41.52

9.99

339

37.96

8.63

Kanjirappally

136

41.85

6.71

201

43.44

7.16

195

41.05

5.46

Vaikom

188

40.12

9.89

190

37.64

7.02

197

35.04

5.54

Kottayam

419

40.02

6.96

381

40.72

9.72

382

39.35

6.63

All

1823

39.01

8.79

1904

38.65

9.18

1921

35.94

6.74

 

6. What is National Project on Cattle and Buffalo Breeding?

With a view to cover the entire breedable cattle of the State through AI programme using frozen semen, the Government of India is sponsoring the National Project for Cattle & Buffalo Breeding (NPCBB). The KLD Board has been nominated as the State Implementing Agency (SIA) of this 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme. Through the implementation of NPCBB in Kerala, the State expects to achieve a better AI coverage through which the genetic potential of the animals are expected to increase. Milk production being the major requirement from cattle, the basic goal of genetic improvement would be for milk production traits.A national seminar on “Frozen Semen Technology” was organized under NPCBB at Dhoni farm from 4th to 6th December 2003. About 200 delegates from various institutions/Livestock Development Boards/Departments/ Universities from all over the country participated in the seminar.


7. What is the production performance of Sunandini cows in KLDB farms?

Overall standard lactation milk yield (kg) of Sunandini cows farmwise

 

Calving year

Mattupatti

Dhoni

Count

Mean

Count

Mean

1994

37

3023

21

3014

1995

30

2622

22

2941

1996

50

2859

22

3031

1997

33

3610

20

3306

1998

34

3058

19

3225

1999

28

2940

18

3361

2000

40

2749

21

2903

2001

53

2938

17

3146

2002

84

2838

29

3056

2003

71

2466

16

2248

 

8. What is the reproduction performance of Sunandini cows in the KLDB farms?


The reproductive performance of Sunandini Cows at the two farms of the Board during the calving year 2002 and 2003 are condensed below. It is seen that the cows at Mattupatti had a better reproductive performance.

 

Parameters

Mattupatti

Dhoni

All

2002

2003

2002

2003

2002

2003

Age at first calving (days)

Count

40

27

7

15

47

42

Mean

925

904

846

941

913

917

Inter calving period (days)

Count

81

65

27

13

108

78

Mean

403

405

398

424

402

408

Service period (days)

Count

51

59

31

17

82

76

Mean

119

131

119

202

119

147

All Index

Count

127

140

36

28

163

168

Mean

1.72

1.82

2

2.43

1.78

1.92

 


9. What are the training courses offered by KLDB?


KLDB offers training courses in Frozen Semen Technology, Frozen Semen Production and Handling ,Cross Breeding and Sire Evaluation Under Tropical Conditions, Fertility Problems in Female Bovines, Field Embryo Transfer Programme, Basic Course in Artificial insemination, Refresher Course in AI and Reproductive Management, Management of Large Scale AI Operations, Tropical Pasture Seed Production and Quality Control,Fodder Production and its Utilization and Management of Breeding Operations in Pig.

10. How well is the growth of AI network in Kerala ?

The number of AI centres in the State has been steadily increasing through the yearsresulting in an efficient coverage of the breedable population. There has been an increase of more than 50% in the number of AI Centres in the state over the last decade.

Growth of Al centres over the years


Year

AHD

DDD

APCOS

OTHERS

TOTAL

1994-95

1769

82

173

98

2122

1995-96

1859

81

183

124

2247

1996-97

1880

22

181

139

2222

1997-98

1978

12

194

130

2314

1998-99

2287

12

180

153

2632

1999-00

2336

12

192

146

2686

2000-01

2441

12

185

150

2788

2001-02

2489

14

184

148

2835

2002-03

2492

12

185

167

2856

2003-04

2496

12

223

240

2971


Growth of Al centres and doses of semen supplied over years


Year

Al centres

Cumm. Increase (%)

Doses supplied (lakhs)

Cumm. Increase (%)

1993-94

1925

0

14.99

0

1994-95

2122

10.23

15.36

2.47

1995-96

2247

16.73

15.61

4.14

1996-97

2222

15.43

15.39

2.67

1997-98

2314

20.21

15.03

0.27

1998-99

2632

36.73

15.79

5.34

1999-00

2686

39.53

15.74

5

2000-01

2788

44.83

15.83

5.6

2001-02

2835

47.27

15.52

3.54

2002-03

2856

48.36

15.32

2.2

2003-04

2971

54.34

15.02

0.2

 


11. What is the intake of frozen semen by various agencies involved with the AI activities?

Agencywise sale of semen over the years


Year

AHD

DDD

OTHERS

Total

1994-95

1352851

82105

100586

1535542

1995-96

1353233

80301

129637

1563171

1996-97

1340681

42346

155940

1538967

1997-98

1321768

15320

166895

1503983

1998-99

1389458

15955

173768

1579181

1999-00

1376771

15165

181740

1573676

2000-01

1381326

17535

184232

1583093

2001-02

1355391

15107

182001

1552499

2002-03

1341550

15070

176170

1532790

2003-04

1270616

13190

218005

1501811


Cattle population and semen offtake – districtwise


District

Breedable females –‘000

Semen doses supplied

No of Al centres

Intake per

Crossbred

Indigenous

Buffalo

Total

Thiruvananthapuram

110.73

13.23

2.62

126.58

158785

269

590

Kollam

95.07

19.47

1.72

116.26

152868

252

607

Pathanamthitta

68.11

18.46

0.58

87.15

93925

183

513

Alappuzha

73.01

10.86

1.09

84.96

123340

163

757

Kottayam

102.93

12.12

1.13

116.18

100762

218

462

Idukki

89.12

21.66

2.84

113.62

82576

197

419

Ernakulam

114.49

24.22

2.13

140.84

132275

307

432

Thrissur

123.75

21.31

4.9

149.96

164640

259

637

Palakkad

109.48

48.38

3.47

161.33

135630

225

603

Malappuram

67.19

32.69

5.42

105.3

72210

221

327

Kozhikode

69.53

40.99

1.74

112.26

82275

191

431

Wyanadu

50.64

11.9

1.27

63.75

72450

118

614

Kannur

73.87

22.32

0.94

97.13

88715

247

359

Kasargode

34.05

42.93

2.09

79.07

41360

121

342

Total

1181.98

340.56

31.89

1554.43

1501811

2971

505

 

12. What is Bull Rotation Programme?

The RSBs collect the semen doses from the bull stations as per requirements from time to time. The bulls used for the AI programme in the state are grouped into 3 families. Related bulls are kept under the same group and when new bulls are added, they are enrolled under the concerned bull families. (predetermined by their parentage) The state is divided into 3 breeding zones for the purpose of bull rotation and one group of bulls is employed under a zone for a period of 3 years and then allotted to next. The procedure helps in the distribution of the genetic materials more or less in an uniform pattern throughout the state, thereby minimising the chances of inbreeding.

13. What are the functional units of the Three-tier A.I. Network?

The State has a three-tier Artificial Insemination (A.I.) management system to provide the inputs for cattle breeding namely:

Bull Stations
Regional Semen Banks (RSB)
Artificial Insemination Centres


14. What are the sources of bulls for semen production in the State?

The bulls for semen production in the state come from 4 sources:
i. F1 generation of bulls born out of zebu cows and proven exotic bulls.
ii. Nominated mating of Sunandini cows in the bull mother farms of the Board with the proven crossbred bulls.
iii. Mating of the elite cows selected under the Progeny Testing areas (based on the first lactation performance) with proven Sunandini bulls.
iv. Superovulation and embryo collection from the top elite cows located at the farms and transfer of such embryos to the recepients in the farms.

15. When was the Indo Swiss Project Kerala (ISPK) formed? What were its aims?

The Indo Swiss Project Kerala (ISPK) was constituted under a bilateral agreement between the Government of India and the Swiss Confederation in 1963. The initial objective of the Project was to evolve a new breed adapted to the local environment for effective utilization of the natural resources/grassland in the High ranges of Kerala. In course of time the Project grew into a State level organization viz., the Kerala Livestock Development Board, to promote the livestock and dairy sector throughout the state. MORE

16. What are the functions of KLDB?

The activities of the Board are  carried out by the two technical  wings  viz:  Animal  Husbandry and Fodder Development.

The  major responsibilities of the Animal Husbandry wing are:

 

Management of around 750 heads cattle in 3 cattle breeding farms.
Production of 80 crossbred young bulls annually through a systematically laid out nominated mating of the elite cows with proven bulls.
Procurement of about 80 superior male calves, born to  elite cows mated with proven bulls from the farmer’s herd in the milk recorded area.
Selection and management of about 160 breeding bulls.
Management of about 20 pedigreed Murrah buffalo bulls for semen production.
Production of about 3.0 million doses of frozen semen annually.
Quality control of frozen semen.
Applied research on cattle breeding and frozen semen technology.
Implementation of the breeding policy of the state aimed at the creation of a new breed of cattle, by way of supplying frozen semen of suitable genetic makeup under a definite bull rotation programme.
Supply of about 1.5 million doses of  frozen  semen (cattle and buffalo) to over 2900 AI  centres spread across the state through the 7 Regional Semen Banks.
Sale of around 1 million  doses  of  frozen  semen outside the State.
Production / procurement and supply of  0.5 million litres of  liquid  nitrogen (LN)  annually   to over 2900 AI centers for  storage and preservation of semen.
Study on the production and reproduction parameters of about  3000 Sunandini cows in the field every year  through an  established field performance recording system.
Evaluation and selection of young Sunandini bulls through the progeny testing scheme.
Training in various fields of livestock production.
Liaison with the Department of Animal Husbandry for the successful implementation of the breeding programme of the state.
Application of the Embryo transfer technique in the bull production programme.
Management of a herd of about 200 Malabari and 100 Boer goats & supplying high quality breeding stock to the farmers.
Building up of breeding stock required for the production of about 10000 piglets to be supplied  to the farmers.

 

17. What are the R&D activities undertaken by KLDB?

Applied research on all aspects of cattle breeding, frozen semen and fodder production is being carried out. The following are the major fields in which trials are undertaken.

 

Selection of cows according to individual performance on production, reproduction and growth.
Selection of bulls based on the various aspects of semen production.
Studies on the reproductive performance of Sunandini bulls
Dilution methods for semen processing in cattle, buffaloes, bucks and boars.
Field studies on the productive and reproductive performance of Sunandini cows.
Setting up of effective models for sire evaluation under field conditions.
Studies on the computation of lactation yields from part lactation records.
Studies on the genetic gain through breeding and selection.
Embryo technology for genetic improvement.
Developing methodology for freezing of buck and boar semen
Crossbreeding trials on the performance of Malabari x Boer crosses
Effect of sperm concentration on fertility using frozen semen
Studies on efficacy of "Hypo Osmotic Swell Test" as an indicator of  fertility in Sunandini bulls
Studies on the selection of suitable fodder varieties for different agroclimatic conditions.
Studies on fodder seed production.
Quality control systems for fodder seeds.
Different management practices for fodder production in Kerala.