Pakistan has a large cattle population (25.5 million in 2006). Although 10 known breeds of cattle exist in the country, majority of the cattle i.e. > 70 % are nondescript. Cattle have traditionally been used as the source of draught power in this region. Their utility as draught animal has been decreasing due to agricultural mechanization in this region. The local cattle are low milk producing, take longer to mature, have longer calving interval and shorter lactation length. Genetic improvement of cattle for milk production could be achieved by two possible ways, i.e., selective breeding and crossbreeding. The crossbreeding is a shortest way to improve the local cattle with improved exotic breed. The nondescript cattle can be crossbreed with semen of exotic improve breeds for higher milk yield.
There was no programme for the genetic improvement of cattle in Potowar area. The non-descript cattle (a derivative of local Dhani breed) yielding hardly 1-3 liter of milk per day, were subjected to the genetic improvement through crossbreeding with Jersey semen. The crossbreeding was carried out in farmer’s herds. The resulting crossbred heifers matured on an average at 16 months of age and produced 1900 liter of milk in the first lactation. Corresponding figures for the nondescript cows were 30 months and 870 liter.
A nucleus herd of Jersey cows was imported from United States of America in 1985 to produce Jersey bulls to meet the future semen production requirements. This nucleus herd is being maintained at the National Agricultural Research Centre Islamabad. More than 300 Jersey bull calves were provided on cost basis to cattle breeders for crossbreeding in the areas where no Artificial Insemination (AI) facilities exist. Keeping in view the demand of local farmers for AI/crossbreeding, the Livestock and Dairy Development Department Islamabad were assisted to establish six A.I. Centers in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) by the year 1990. These centers have been helped with supply of frozen semen of Jersey breed as well as the accessories required for the AI. Today, the estimated population of crossbred cattle represents more than 25% of the total breedable cow population in ICT area. The crossbreeding not only helped improve the milk production of the cattle but resulted in increased income to the farmers for their better livelihood.
Naqvi, A. N., A. Ghaffar, U. N. Khan, M. A. Mirza and W. H. Pirzada, (1991). Heat tolerance and milk production in purebred and crossbred cows. Pakistan J. Agric. Res. 12(1): 66-70.
Khan, U. N. (1994). Genetic Improvement of Native Cattle through Crossbreeding and Introduction of Exotic Dairy Cattle In Pakistan. ISBN No.969-8040-08–0. Publisher: Pakistan Science Foundation, Islamabad. (106 pages).