/In an effort to conserve the smallest cattle breed in the world, Muhamma panchayat in Kerala’s Alappuzha district will set up a natural mating centre exclusively for Vechur cattle at Pathiramanal island.

The ‘super speciality’ Vechur cow reproduction centre is the first of its kind to come up in the State. J. Jayalal, president of Muhamma Panchayat, told The Hindu that the centre would be set up on 56 acres of pasture land.

“This is an attempt to promote natural breeding of the Vechur cattle. The Panchayat has been offered a purebred Vechur bull by a farmer. We hope to commence the project by December-end,” Mr. Jayalal said.

According to officials, the bull and the cows will be allowed to roam free and graze in the vast green pastures, enabling natural breeding. Once the cow is impregnated, the animal will be returned to its owner.

“Pathiramanal was once a hotspot for cattle grazing. However, over the years, the place lost its sheen as a sought-after grazing pasture. Our attempt is to bring the culture back. We will be charging a nominal fee from farmers for natural breeding,” Mr. Jayalal said.

This rare breed, which averages 90 cm in height and 130 kg in weight, takes its name from a village of the same name in Kottayam. It was on the brink of extinction, when the Kerala Agriculture University launched a conservation programme about two decades ago.

Around 4,000 heads of Vechur cattle are believed to exist today in Thrissur, Alappuzha, Kottayam, and Ernakulam, among other districts. A sizeable number are also with the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences.

Milk fat differs

Vechur cow milk is considered good for health as it has a higher proportion of smaller fat globules and saturated fatty acids, which is said to make it therapeutically useful in malabsorption syndrome.

Dr. Sosamma Iype, retired Professor, Animal Breeding and Genetics, at Kerala Agricultural University, and a pioneer in reviving the Vechur breed, said that the conception rate would be higher in natural breeding.

Purebred holds the key

“Compared to artificial insemination, the conception rate is high in natural mating. The technical expertise available with the Panchayat is a critical factor in ensuring success. They need to be extra-careful in selecting the bull. It needs to be healthy and purebred. Also, bulls need to be rotated periodically to get optimal reproductive performance,” Dr. Sosamma said.

A publication from the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) titled ‘Cattle Breeds of India’ depicts 30 varieties.

According to some experts, there is a lower incidence of respiratory infections among Vechur cattle, compared to crossbred cows. Indigenous breeds popular for dairying include Gir, Red Sindhi and Sahiwal.


source : thehindu.com/Sam Paul A



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