High-yielding cow from Punjab loses dairy market due to trade curbs

Punjab, the pioneer of progressive dairy farming in India, is struggling to retain its leadership in supplying high-yielding cows across the country. The state’s dairy industry has been limping along under the shadow of the stringent cattle protection laws that curb the movement of cows to certain other states where cow slaughter is permitted.

Inter-state trade of the high-yielding cow, Holstein Friesian, cross bred by the semen of progeny-tested bulls imported from the US has been hit, as tedious paperwork and permission from the state authorities have dissuaded buyers from other states to procure animals from Punjab.

Dairy
Holstein Friesian, is a high-yielding cow, cross bred by the semen of progeny-tested bulls imported from the US

Inter-state bovine sale is an estimated Rs 2,500 crore industry in Punjab and is the backbone of the state’s agriculture. Although Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, has in-principal agreed to provide permit for the cows sold at animal fairs on the spot, nothing has changed on the ground, farmers say.

“Due to stagnant returns on milk and spiraling commodity prices, relying only on milk sales is not remunerative. A supplementary source of income from breeding animal is imperative. But the declining demand of cattle due to restrictions imposed on sale of cows has pulled down the price and it has become a loss making proposition”, said Daljit Singh, President, Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association, Punjab. He added that the vehicles of traders were also impounded by the self-styled cow-protectors that has diverted the business from Punjab.

“A cow breeder in Punjab incurs about Rs 80,000-90,000 on rearing a cow till its first pregnancy. Due to the high awareness level and availability of high-quality semen, small breeders mushroomed in the state during the last few years. On reaching the first pregnancy stage, Punjab cows earlier used to fetch around Rs 1.25 lakh per head or even more. But the average price has come down to Rs 60,000-70,000. Now a breeder suffers a loss of Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per cow, while he used to earn earlier there used to be profit of Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 per cattle head,” he said.

According to Punjab Animal Husbandry department, Punjab contribute 5.16 per cent cow milk of India with only 1.27 per cent cattle population. The reason being higher proportion of cross breds and their higher productivity in Punjab.

The dairy breeding has flourished in Karnataka in the last few years as Karnataka is the only alternative source of HF cows in India. The officials in Karnataka Milkfed informed that cattle breeding has been picking up in Kartaka. But cows in Punjab are fed on scientific meal where as in Karnataka, it is mostly fed on natural grazing so yield is higher in Punjab.

A cow in a progressive dairy farm fetches 25 kg to 65 kg per day and in Karntaka Progressive dairy farms the average yield per day is 15-40 kilograms a day.

The in breeding (breeding with in the family) in Karnataka also makes cattle less remunerative as this results into lower yield and genetic disorders.

The premium quality of Punjab cows can be established from the fact that Uttar Pradesh Government under its Kamdhenu scheme for dairy farmers that provides 12 per cent interest subsidy to farmers for five years, the UP Animal Husbandry Department advises farmers to for only Punjab H F cows due to higher yield..

Source : business-standard

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