An artificial insemination programme is proving successful 

Livestock: To further encourage dairy farmers to adopt artificial insemination (AI) for improving cattle breeds, the Department of Livestock (DoL) organised a calf rally at Pam in Trashigang on June 1.

Some 45 households of the Pam dairy group participated in the rally where the best of the calves and heifers (cows that have not borne a calf) born through AI, were awarded with cash prizes.

An objective of the second calf rally in the dzongkhag was also to look at the progress of the AI method that was introduced in Pam under the Contract Heifer and Bull Production Programme in 2009. It is proving a success in the village, livestock officials said.

“The conception rate of the heifers was around 48.5 percent, which is good. Even organised farms around the world cannot boast of having achieved more than 50 to 60 percent,” dzongkhag livestock officer, NS Tamang said. “Since 2009, 247 calves were born through AI in the village.”

The National Dairy Development Centre imports semen of selected sires (male parent) that is progeny tested. The semen is distributed to farmers free of cost. When a cow is first inseminated with imported semen of a Jersey, the calf (second generation) becomes 50 percent jersey. The third generation becomes 75 percent Jersey while the percentage keeps increasing with every following generation.

“After a cow is 75 percent hybrid, villagers have the option to sell it at the Calf Rearing Centre in Wangkha. The centre breeds these cows and the progenies are sold back to the farmers at cheaper rates,” he said. “In case of a bull, their production capacities are assessed and distributed as breeding bulls.”

Today the livestock office inseminates over 20 heifers from Pam every month. More farmers are adopting the method.

Besides improving the production capacity of cows in the village, Gelay, a farmer, said AI has helped drastically reduce the number of cows dying from sexually transmitted diseases.

“In the past, a lot of our cows died after mating with infected cows. After the introduction of AI, we don’t see much of such cases,” he said. “Milk production has improved with cows giving as high as 10 litres of milk every day.”

When AI was first taken to Pam in 2009, about 37 households with 47 cows were engaged in dairy farming. Today 45 households are into dairy farming with over 250 cows.

Tshering Wangdi |  Trashigang