India’s buffalo meat sector to receive boost from new semen unit

By Raghavendra Verma, in New Delhi

- Last updated on GMT

The station will house 300 bulls in Purnea, Bihar
The station will house 300 bulls in Purnea, Bihar

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India is building its biggest frozen semen station, housing 300 bulls of indigenous breeds of buffalo and cattle, with construction costs estimated at Indian Rupees (INR) 640 million (US$9.7m) in Purnea, Bihar.

When fully functional by May 2019, it would include bull shade areas, a semen processing lab, feed and warehousing, plus agricultural equipment and would supply five million doses of high-quality semen every year to overcome national shortages. The unit would boost the cattle population, which in India is generally for dairy – although unproductive cows are still slaughtered in some states, with no such prohibition being placed on buffaloes, which can be reared for meat.

​[To maintain its] 10 million cattle population, north-east India’s Bihar state requires 30 million doses of semen every year,”​ Dhirendra Kumar Thakur, project director, Bihar Livestock Development Agency, in the state capital Patna, told GlobalMeatNews​. “It is rare that a cow conceives on the first dose ​[of semen],” he said. “On average, three doses are required to be given at regular intervals.”

Indigenous breed bulls with favoured genetic attributes – such as Red Sindhi, Bachaur, Gangatiri and Sahiwal – will be shipped from the distant states of Punjab and Gujarat, in north-west and western India, said Thakur. These breeds are more suited to India’s climate than origin breeds, he said, with early summer temperatures in much of the subcontinent reaching 45˚C and exceeding it, followed by a monsoon session with high humidity.

Indian breed bulls mature at three or four years old and good-quality semen could be harvested from them until they are ten, said Thakur. In the new station, “ten percent of the older bulls will be replaced every year with new ones”​ to keep the cycle going on, he said. One unit of semen will be sold to farmers at INR40 (US$0.60), he said.

The central government will fund the station’s development and will run the service for five years, after which the state Government will take-over its administration, said Mr Thakur. “By then our manpower will also be trained,”​ he said.

The bank’s benefits will steadily help the Indian meat industry boost its stock quality, making the buffalo population bigger and better, Priya Sud, a partner at buffalo meat exporting firm Al Noor Exports in New Delhi told GlobalMeatNews​. “We are very happy,”​ she said.

Smallholder farmers, who rear majority of cattle population in India, take good care of their animals and now they will be getting better breeds, said Sud. “With more muscles and less fat in slaughtered animals, the meat yield will also improve for the industry, leading to better prices,”​ she said.

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