In their efforts to monitor milk yields, Punjab’s Progressive Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA), are set to scientifically record yields from their cattle using certified software. The recordings will allow them the “highest-yielding cows and bulls born of such an alliance.” The information could benefit even small scale dairy farmers as their cattle could generate offspring, which could yield a greater amount of litres of milk per lactation. Chandigarh Dairy farmers in Punjab are creating a pedigree of what they call the ‘Punjab Holstein’ — their high-performance cross-bred cows that are now yielding upto 11,000 litres of milk per lactation period of ten months.

This is the only project of its kind undertaken in the country where dairy farmers across the state are going in for scientific recording of the yield of their cattle. Farmers will record the yield of these cows daily, using a certified software — a standard procedure internationally. Each high-yielding animal at these farms will be given a code, along with the farm code. The objective is to identify the best germplasm across the state — the highest-yielding cows and bulls born of such alliance.

The project has been taken up by the Progressive Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA), a body of commercial dairy owners in Punjab. It will be launched in April.

‘Punjab Holstein’ are originally the desi cows of Punjab inseminated with the semen of Holstein-Friesian bulls for over a decade, leading to high-yielding cross-breds.

What has significantly added to the quality of these cattle is that for the couple of years, dairy farmers in Punjab have been importing progeny-tested semen, sourced from some of the best dairy farms in the world. PDFA president Daljit Singh said while the semen straw of a normal Holstein-Friesian bull costs Rs 20-30, a semen straw of a progeny-tested bull costs Rs 200 to 600 per straw. “These bulls are among the top one per cent among about 5,000 or more bulls raised by international companies. The yield of their dams and also their progeny has been carefully recorded over several years. Hence, it is known that the calves born of their semen will be the best of the lot too,” he said.

The PDFA wants more dairy farmers to use this top-of-the-line germplasm. Small dairy owners cannot afford to import expensive semen straws of progeny-tested bulls. “After we have the complete pedigree of our best bulls, owners can sell semen straws to fellow farmers at much cheaper rates. The small dairy farmers will benefit from this. After being inseminated with such high-quality semen, even cows that yield only about 5,000 litres per lactation will give birth to progeny that will yield up to 8,000 litres per lactation,” said Rajpal Singh, a commercial dairy farmer at Jagraon near Ludhiana. In the first phase, 12 farms with high-yielding cows will adopt the software for complete data recording of the yield of their animals throughout the lactation period. PDFA has employed youth who will visit each farm twice a month and collect the data.

Daljit said the initiative was significant for the owners of such animals, and also the buyers. “Owners of such superior germplasm will be scientifically recognised, and will earn more. The buyers too will be able to upgrade the quality of their animals without having to import the semen straws,” he added. One bull can yield about 10 lakh sperm straws in its life span. The average yield of a cow in India is only about 1,700 litres per lactation. According to PDFA members, if these cows are inseminated with the semen of pedigreed bulls, it can change the scene of milk production in the country.