1. Animal Husbandry

In Vitro Fertilization Brings High Milk Producing ‘Gir’ Genes to India from Brazil through Gaolao Cows

Dimple Gupta
Dimple Gupta
Soberano - the Brazilian Bull

In a dairy farm in Dhanori (50 km away from Nagpur and towards Amravati), Sudhir Diwe , the farm proprietor is breeding high milk yielding Gir cows from the wombs of Gaolao cows (native to India, used both as draught and milk cattle). 

The Gir breed has become so popular due to the attention they get these days but the baby calf carrier Gaolao cows haven’t got much recognition. At this farm, pure Gir calves are delivered by Gaolao cows (found in Nagpur and Wardha). 

Diwe has started the dairy business recently and is the executive council member of Maharashtra Animal & Fishery Sciences University (Mafsu), is one among the first few tech-savvy dairy farmers. He is a former official on special duty to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. 

Diwe is very confident about the test tube cattle. Apart from the 18 one year old cattle, born in November last year, another 10 are on their way” – Gadkari mentioning the effort in a recent event. There are 18 calves birthed by a famous Brazilian bull Soberano, and mothered by equally famous coe Gauri, but delivered by the little-known cattle breeds.

Gadkari further added – “This may be the first herd of test tube cattle of Vidarbha, and also perhaps among the highest numbers bred in a single place. Now Mafsu also has the technology and initial operations at concessional rates are expected to start soon. 

The idea behind the project evolved during the yearly Agrovision farm expo organized by Gadkari. JK Trust, Pune (part of the Raymond group) which makes test tube calves, has set up a stall. “It is hoped that the test tube cows will yield at least 20 to 25 litres of milk as compared to over 8 litres from the conventional Gir cattle. These are IVF cattle, and it happens the same way as it is done in humans. Soberano is a bull born of a mother who yielded as much as 65 litres of milk. Its semen was imported by JK Trust. The eggs are harvested from Gauri, a cow that yields over 20 litres, and is among the best. On an average the offspring may yield 40 litres but even 25 litres would be enough for a local farmer” – said Diwe and added – “The frozen semen of a high grade bull like Soberano is used to fertilize eggs of cows like Gauri. The embryo formed in an incubator is planted into the womb of a recipient cow. The delivering cow can be of any breed, it has to be just good enough to yield couple of litres for the calf. Of course, certain screening is done before zeroing on the recipient. Out of 18 calves, 5-6 were born from Gaolao breed.” 

It’s indeed too expensive for ordinary farmers. To increase the yield of indigenous cattle the government must subsidize the process.” – Diwe said informing that the complete process was taken up by JK Trust and costs Rs 30,000 per cow.  

Set to take over as the National Mentor to Rashtriya Gokul Mission, Dr. Shyam Zanwar, CEO JK Trust said – “The technology was available a little earlier abroad. In India, we are working on it since 2016. Gauri is a star performer and so far we may have produced 500 test tube calves. We started with embryo transplantation of sheep in 1975 for improving the wool production. It was not IVF but en vivo fertilization. It’s a slightly different process. Here, the embryo is produced within the donor cow and then transplanted into the recipient. In IVF, embryos are created outside and then transplanted. After the sheep project ended, in vivo fertilization of cattle continued till 2000.” 

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