Why Gir

Why Gir should be used as DONER breed to upgrade Odisha’s “DESHI” Zebu cattle.

Odisha has 13million Deshi(Non descript zebu) cattle yielding only @ 0.46 liters of milk (average) per day including 67000 Binjharpuri breed cattle in Jajpur district cows of which yield @ 4liters/day av. People rear zebu mainly for manure and work. On the other hand cattle cross- breeds! (actually meaning crossing of 2 breeds) has failed to be popular.

Yet we need to reach at least 5 times the present production 1350,000 MT (Ref. India Livestock Census; Basic A. H. Statistics 2006 Govt. of India) To boost up milk production in Odisha 5 breeds of Bos Taurus were introduced in sixties but farmers did not like to propagate exotic blood and the rapid disillusionment was seen in the dwindling Jersey & Holstein cross numbers after 1995 (Refer Livestock in Orissa: The Socio- Economic Perspective by M.P.G Kurup; page 46 ). Till date, in spite of vigorous, constant & unreasonable effort by the Govt. to promote Jersey & Holstein as donor breeds, the exercise has not sustained.

5 reasons for promoting Gir as donor breed in Odisha:

Milk yield at par with Jersey. Bullocks are good workers.
Disease resistant & lesser breeding failures.
Heat, Humidity & Drought tolerant.
Indian, Intelligent yet docile.
Ghee & Urine can be sold at high price.

Why This Initiative of Upgrading cattle?

000’s of dairy farmers/entrepreneurs have tried their fate, in a bid to earn a livelihood through Jersey / Holstein Cross bred cows, with earnest & sincerity, toeing the lines prescribed by Govt. of Odisha. Being strongly motivated through Govt. promotional efforts they have borrowed money from Banks/co-operatives but have failed to repay.

The result was a squeeze in extending dairy loans and a simultaneous sharp drop in milk production curve. This sad episode has been repeated thrice in between 1990 to 2009.

We pondered over the reasons and investigated the causes, through consultations of all stakeholders and finally came to a conclusion that it was a technical snag of donor breed failure. Vulnerability to diseases & low productivity under heat stress had cost our dairy farmers their bread & butter; the state, a lag of 30 years in milk production; the banks, a non-recovery state; the Vets, a full moon followed by no-moon & the milk market has seen a rise & fall fluctuating.

The second reason was concentration dependent farming, due to lack of cultivated greens and its non-accessibility.
We further thought the skill-level of our farmers and cattle resources handy to them & finally decided that cattle upgrading will best suit us. (Jersey /Holstein crosses can only remain at 50 to 62% blood level.)

This can only be carried out if a donor milch cattle breed has performed well in our state and their semen is plenty available and is of proven Sire. At least 4 pure Bulls are available for 4 generations of our progenies to avoid in-breeding.

The reasons of rejection of Bos Taurus cross- bred by farmers are:

  • High incidence of mastitis, breeding failures, blood protozoan diseases, milk fever & ketosis.
    Poor heat, humidity & stress tolerance.
  • Poor market for male progenies.
  • Cattle oughtn’t to be upgraded to full blood (nearly pure), as per Livestock Policy (Ref. Govt. Policy) limiting the milk yield potential to almost half the breeds yield.
  • Adoption of 50% blood level is quite impracticable to be maintained in progenies, by rural farmers vis-a-vis their tendency to get purer ones.
  • Histories of entrepreneurial failure.