PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF CATTLE AND BUFFALOES IN INDIAN DAIRY PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
Keywords:extensive/ semi-intensive/ intensive production system, indigenous breed, non-descript breed, crossbred, performance evaluation, MOET
Selection and mating systems are the two basic tools used in animal breeding to genetically improve the livestock. Modern breeding programs are formulated in a way to utilize either genetic variation or generation interval or intensity of selection or accuracy of selection or a combination of these factors. However, selection is considered as the key to genetic improvement in the herd. It is actually an alternate form of culling where the inferior animals are culled for the desired economic traits and the superior animals are retained based on phenotypic or genetic selection. A large number of genes govern the economic traits in dairy animals and these traits also get influenced by non-genetic or environmental factors. The phenotypic variation (Vp) in economic traits is due to the combined effect of genetic (Vg) and environmental variation (Ve) i.e. Vp = Vg +Ve. The breeder plays its role by minimizing the environmental variation such that Vp is as close as possible to Vg. The ratio of Vg to Vp is referred as heritability and its magnitude determines the effectiveness of selection. Very low or zero heritability indicates that the trait cannot be improved by selection but improving the feed and managemental conditions can help in trait improvement. High heritability (0.50 or more) of a trait indicates that individual’s own performance can be used as the basis of selection. Moderate heritability (0.20 to 0.35) indicates one to resort to Progeny Testing for genetic evaluation of animals. With the growing concept of sustainability it is now felt that strategies need to be developed on the basis of agro ecological zones so that the locally available resources can be used efficiently and productivity can be enhanced. India is divided into 15 agro-climatic regions and 126 agro-climatic sub-zones based on rainfall, temperature, soil-type, topography, existing cropping pattern and farm animal resources for developing policies on regional basis. Different “Farming systems” are identified, classified and mapped in each agro-climatic zone. Emphasis on studying the Animal Production Systems prevalent under different agro-ecological zones has also been laid by FAO under the Domestic Animal Diversity Information Systems (DAD-IS).
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