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Global Warming and Livestock

  May 22, 2020

Global Warming and Livestock

How is livestock likely to be impacted by global warming?

India has largest livestock numbers in world and climate change is expected to adversely affect the milk production and reproductive function of cattle and buffaloes in the country. Global warming will negatively impact the productivity of indigenous cows and decline in milk production will be higher in crossbreds followed by buffaloes and indigenous cattle.

Can Indian indigenous cattle be the solution?

Indian indigenous cattle possesses climate resilient traits and the government of India is considering using those traits to develop breeds that can withstand high temperature in the face of climate change. India’s indigenous cattle are much better than the exotics or crossbred ones.

Why not we crossbreed new varieties from the existing elite native varieties?

India is now considering using climate resilient traits of its indigenous cattle breeds to develop new breeds that can withstand rising temperatures.

What is being done to conserve and select-breed Indian cattle to withstand the climate change?

Biochemical, morphological and physiological characterization of indigenous cattle breeds were carried out and compared with exotic breeds. The traits identified in indigenous breed – heat shock proteins, air coat colour, wooly hair – that impart tolerance to heat stress could be used in future animal breeding programs to develop breeds that can withstand high temperature

The study undertaken by National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) Karnal revealed that indigenous cattle breeds/population found in different parts of India possess better heat tolerance and disease resistance as compared to exotic cattle breeds and their crosses.

What more should India do?

It is recommended to the central Government should start a comprehensive plan for making an inventory of all indigenous varieties of cattle in country, identification and separation of their specific traits, proper breeding plan for cross breeding of indigenous varieties of cattle, vaccination so that farmers of our country are equipped with wherewithal for coping with vagaries associated with climate changes in the country.

Why are exotic cross breed varieties preferred and what should our response be?

Since productivity of indigenous cattle is lower than exotic/crossbred cattle, the indigenous cattle are facing stiffer competition with exotic/crossbred cattle. Therefore, it is essentially needed to take up genetic improvement program for our indigenous cattle population which is nearly 80% of the total cattle of India.

What about Sahiwal cows?

Laboratory experiments have revealed that Sahiwal cows have superior tolerance to summer stress as been shown by heat shock proteins etc. The move is significant as India has the largest livestock numbers in the world and is also the largest milk producer in the world.

What is Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM)?

RGM is aimed at conserving indigenous Indian breeds of cattle through selective breeding, especially for the genetic upgrade of 11.3 crore low-milk yield nondescript bovines in the country. Mission will be implemented with the objectives to: a) development and conservation of indigenous breeds b) undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock; c) enhance milk production and productivity; d) upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi and e) distribute disease free high genetic merit bulls for natural service. 

What is Rashtriya Kamadhenu Aayog?

GOI setting up of a ‘Rashtriya Kamadhenu Aayog’ to upscale the sustainable genetic upgradation of cattle resources and to enhance the production and productivity of cows.