During his last visit to the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) in the winter of 2013, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal straightaway went to visit a special guest — a pure-bred Neeli Raavi buffalo that had been gifted to him by Pakistan. “He was then eager and happy. He was a bit nervous too and enquired if the animal was alright. He asked when the baby was due and if there was any complication. We assured him that everything is fine,” said R S Grewal, dairy farm incharge of GADVASU.
That calf, born on June 29 this year, has now opened gates of research for conservation and research of Neeli Raavi buffalo breed which is abundant in Pakistan but whose numbers are less in India. Lovingly named ‘Sarhad’ by the university officials, it is officially the first calf delivered through insemination of a Pakistani buffalo and an Indian bull. “Sarhad is even more special because her mother lost a calf during the quarantine period when shifting from Pakistan to India. We were extra cautious after semen from a pure Murrah bull at the Nabha dairy farm (run by ICAR, Delhi) was injected for insemination. However, the delivery was normal with no complications. Now it is almost 45-days and she is fine,” Grewal added.
The one-and-a-half-month-old Sarhad now gets VIP treatment. The calf is fed 4 litres of milk, maize, soybean feet and vitamins among others every day. “To avoid wounds, we prepare a soft bedding for her. Officially, she is the first heifer born from Indo-Pak amalgamation and thus very special for us,” he added.
The heifer is also special as it has provided an opportunity to study the breed. GADVASU Vice-Chancellor Dr V K Taneja explains, “The buffalo has given an excellent response and milk quantity has increased. When Pak delegation led by Pak Punjab CM came, we discussed that our Murrah and their Neeli Raavi can be exchanged and semen can exported and imported. With this successful birth of Sarhad, it has confirmed that exchange can be successful”.
The Neeli Raavi buffalo can yield 4,200 litres of milk and ‘Sarhad’ is showing complete characteristics of a pure-bred Neeli Raavi including a white patch (safed tikka) on the forehead, four white patches on each feet (called silver anklets), a bunch of white hair on black tail and blue eyes, Grewal said.