Chhimi Dema 

With high chances of birthing female calves, artificial insemination (AI) in cows is becoming popular in Katsho, Haa.

Farmers prefer this method to having a breeding bull impregnate their cows or heifers.

AI is the unnatural deposition of semen into the uterus. This technology was introduced in Bhutan in 1987.

A farmer from Katsho Gewog stated that after AI, his cow gave birth to female calves. Previously, the progenies were always bull.

He explained that female calves ensure his family has a steady income through dairy. “We have to work hard to raise a bull but the return is not equal.”

Haa has a total of 3,221 milch animals, including improved cattle breeds like Brown Swiss Cross and Pure, Jersey Cross and Pure, Holsten Friesian, and other local breeds.

The Katsho Livestock Centre’s extension supervisor, Sangay Dorji, said that the centre provides mobile AI services for farmers.

The AI semen is stored in liquid nitrogen containers to freeze the semen.

Sangay Dorji noted that the farmers are aware of the benefits of AI, and he receives their full support for this technology.

According to a study published in the Bhutan Journal of Animal Science in 2018, Paro performed the best with 16,360 inseminations done, producing 5,829 progenies.

The study also noted that Haa, Gasa, Lhuentse, Dagana, and Sarpang were performing below average. However, data shows that AI technology is gaining popularity among farmers.

Sangay Wangmo, a gewog extension supervisor, stated that AI would help improve the breed, increase milk production, and reduce the risk of spreading contagious diseases among cattle.

She explained that if a farmer raises an ox, then they incur more expenses, whereas farmers rearing a cow for dairy have a more sustainable livelihood. Thus, farmers prefer AI to improve the quality of their herds.