Fall in indigenous cattle population cause for concern

The steep fall in the population of indigenous cattle needs immediate attention of scientists and policy makers. This was said by Dr DK Sadana, retired head of the animal genetic resources division of the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), who had worked for 20 years on indigenous livestock. At the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) today to take part in the 12th Agricultural Science Congress, he said: “At present, there are only 39 breeds of indigenous cattle, out of which some are at the brink of extinction and need immediate attention to be conserved.”

Highlighting the importance of indigenous cattle as compared to the crossbreed, he said the milk of the former was superior to that of the latter besides being locally adapted and contributing to the marginal people’s livelihood.

Dr Sadana said the indigenous cattle milk carries A2 protein, which was superior to A1 protein that was found in the milk of crossbreed cattle. “A small compound of A1 protein known as Beta Caso Morphin-7 (BCM7) causes diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure and cardiac problems, while A2 is safe to consume,” he said.

He said: “Indian cow milk also has higher proportion of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a good anti-oxidant and very useful for the human body. It also has good quantity of omega-3 fatty acid, which is also beneficial for human metabolism.” He said dung of the Indian cow had around 50 times more useful bacteria, which helped in soil fertility, while the dung of crossbreed was of inferior quality.

The importance of the urine of the Indian cow for human health and soil was also acknowledged as it has received four US patents.

“It is important that all products from indigenous cows are properly utilised and so the farmers can earn sufficiently for their own survival as well as get quality milk for their families,” he said. Comparing the lactations of both the breeds, he said Indian cattle continued to produce for more than 15 lactations, whereas the crossbreeds in the best farms in the country produced, on an average, for only 3.4 lactations.

“The major advantage is that the indigenous cattle can survive in all types of adverse conditions, while crossbreed faces lot of challenges,” he added.



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