In a breakthrough move geared towards protection and propagation of indigenous cow breeds, a research and training institute on animal husbandry, run by the JK Group, has launched a first-of-its-kind initiative to produce IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) embryos of indigenous cow breeds on a large scale.
The programme is aimed at boosting milk production from cow breeds, like Gir, Sahiwal, Ongole and Tharparkar, by creating IVF embryos that can either be planted in surrogate females or be frozen for future use, a first in the country.
Developed at the Vijaypat Singhania Centre of Excellence for Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Livestock, the programme allows scientists to create an embryo outside the womb by a complex system of in-vitro fertilisation.
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“In the case of in-vitro fertilisation that we work with, as opposed to in-vivo fertilisation that is natural fertilisation inside the mother, the ova is aspirated manually from the donor mother’s ovary. This is then combined with male semen to develop an ova into an embryo. Depending on the physical condition and growth stage of the animal, large number of ova can be recovered every year. This quantity is far in excess of what the donor cow is capable of producing under natural conditions. These embryos are transplanted into the recipient mothers to produce calves. You will observe that by this process we can produce a large number of high-pedigree cattle that is impossible under normal, natural conditions,” said JK Trust Chairman Vijaypat Singhania.
Dr Shyam Zawar, CEO of the Trust, said, “JK Bovagenix (the name of the programme) has established 14 pregnancies through fresh embryos and 14 through frozen embryos in the last three months since its inception. The first batch of IVF calves are expected to be born this year.” Wednesday also saw the launch of a mobile ET(embryo transfer) and IVF van, that will take this technology to farmers throughout the country. “There are several advantages to indigenous breeds such as their resistance to the harsh weather, ticks and disease resistance. However, in places like Brazil, the Gir has been known to produce 2.5 times the amount of milk than in India. We are seeking to change that and in line with the centre’s Rashtriya Gokul mission, we are targeting a thousand pregnancies by the end of this year, and ten thousand high-quality calves by the end of five years,” added Zawar.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who inaugurated the programme, praised the “scientific advancement” and said that more states should join the project. State Cabinet minister Brijohan Agarwal added that an increased production in milk would help fight problems like malnutrition.