National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) and milk unions of Gujarat on Wednesday decided to collaborate on expanding a 'reference population' of dairy cattle for genomic selection and extend benefits of improved genetics to Gujarat farmers.
NDDB has been working towards implementation of a new technology genomic selection since 2014. Genomic selection has revolutionised dairy cattle breeding and profoundly affected genetic improvement of dairy cattle.
"The genomic selection is dependent on size of 'reference population'...Accuracy of genomic selection increases with expansion of reference population," a statement quoted NDDB Executive Director Meenesh Shah as saying after signing a memorandum of agreement (MoU).
GCMMF Managing Director R S Sodhi said its cooperative along with milk unions of Gujarat will play a crucial role in genomic selection. Extensive artificial insemination coverage and capacity to produce semen by milk unions will also help in faster dissemination of good genetics to farmers.
As per the agreement, NDDB, GCMMF and Milk Unions will work together to develop standard operating protocols (SOPs) for recording, taking up data analysis and monitoring the quality of data collected.
Around 1.9 lakh animals will be recorded in the next five years for their milk production capacity, fat, solids nor fat (SNF) and protein content of milk, reproduction regularity of animals, disease incidence, animal's body type, animal's behaviour, etc.
Out of the recorded animals, more than 80,000 animals will be genotyped and related data will help in genomic breeding value estimation with more accuracy.
This programme will include important breeds like Gir, Kankrej, and crossbred cows and Mehsana, Jaffarabadi, Murrah buffaloes. It is envisaged that all the bulls that enter Gujarat's semen stations will be genomically selected ensuring genetic merit.
According to NDDB, the project will fast-track genetic progress in cattle and buffaloes not only for their milk production potential but also for regular reproduction, reduced disease incidences and improved appearance. Apart from semen stations, farmers will also be able to use genomics for selection of heifers.
Besides central government funding through NDDB, GCMMF and Milk Unions will also invest in performance recording, genotyping and training of manpower for this programme, it added.