In a first-of-its-kind step, designed to help dairy farmers across Punjab, the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) has begun freezing the semen of “prized and high-quality” bulls owned by private farmers. According to Vice-Chancellor Dr A S Nanda, the move will ensure high-quality germ plasm of bulls for diary farmers and would thus improve overall breeding in Punjab.
Under the project, the university has already frozen over 3,000 doses of semen of bulls whose offspring have broken records in milk yields and are completely disease-free. Officials said more dairy farm owners are now contacting them to be part of the project and hoped that the semen can be further sold to other farmers, thus creating a chain.
Till now, semen straws prepared from bulls owned by the animal husbandry department and GADVASU were sold to farmers. They were also supplied to government veterinary hospitals, where vets would impregnate cows in private farms. Farmers were also dependent on natural mating. With this facility, however, university officials said that farmers would be able to use semen straws of their own bulls or even sell it to other farmers.
GADVASU sells semen from its own farms at the cost of Rs 100 per straw (for progeny of tested bulls, whose breeding background and offspring performance record are available) and Rs 30 for non-proven bulls. (whose records are unavailable). The Punjab government owns two semen banks at Ropar and Nabha, where straws from its own bulls are supplied.
“We will now move door-to-door to collect the semen. This is to spread the good quality germplasm in state. Through natural insemination, a bull can impregnate only one animal at once but if we freeze the semen using liquid nitrogen, it produces 200 doses from a one-time collection. We want high-quality semen to be accessible to all farmers. After freezing it, we give it to the bull’s owner who can further give it to farmers or use it in his own farm,” V-C Nanda said.
The university said it is taking all steps to ensure that the semen belongs to only those bulls that are completely disease-free. “If a buffalo breaks certain milk yield record, we freeze the semen of the bull which produced it. The owners have a record of the breeding background. The semen is also tested for communicable diseases and quality. If all is found okay, then a two-member team visits the farm and freezes the semen,” said Prakash Singh Brar, director of the university’s livestock farm.
Each visit of a GADVASU scientist will cost an owner Rs 5,000 to have the bull semen frozen. “We are working on a no-profit, no-loss basis. Generally such prized bulls are very less. The idea is to store their semen for a lifetime so that more high-quality animals are reproduced. It is open for both indigenous, exotic and cross-breeds,” Brar added.
“We were concentrating on cross breeding which no doubt increased the yield of milk but has degraded quality of milk. Freezing semen of farmers’ own bulls is an excellent step which will help them to reproduce highly rewarding offspring as semen will be tried and tested. In villages it is a common practise that if a farmer owns a prized bull, other farmers pay him Rs 100-200 to mate their cows/buffaloes with it. But with semen storage, they will get higher profits,” said Jagdeep Singh, president, Dairy Welfare Association, Punjab.