A global body - International Federation of Zebu Cattle in India (IFZCI) - has been formed by Gurugram-based Gir Amritphal firm, which sells A2 (desi cow) milk, in partnership with Brazil’s ABCZ (Brazilian Association of Zebu Breeders) to preserve and enhance the genetic quality of Indian indigenous.
IFZCI has been formed to bring the technology of maintaining good genetics and improving them. “This will be done by establishing a start-of-the art laboratory in Gurugram. We are investing around $2 million to establish the laboratory. We are looking for a land to set it up,” said Gir Amritphal co-founder Madan Mohan.
“We would like to enhance the breeding quality and increase milk production in cows so that it will be more viable for our farmers to maintain cows,” he said in online interaction with businessline. (Indian indigenous breeds are called Zebu breeds as they were sent from South Asia, particularly India, to Brazil.)
The effort is being made as, according to Mohan, the genetics of Indian cows is not recorded. But there are tests such as PTA (predicted transmitting ability) which can reveal if a cattle can bring the goodness of the milk in its calf.
The setting up of the laboratory will help farmers to record the DNA of their cattle as in Brazil, while the lab will store the data.
“If a farmer sends the hair from the tail of the bull, we will do the DNA testing. And no payment is involved in this. The effort is to record details of every bull used for breeding. It is a work that IFZCI would like to do for India,” he said.
Training for farmers
The IFZCI will help private breeders to test bulls so that farmers could have scientifically-proven bulls. Iit will be a great help for farmers when they know that their bull’s genetic germplasm is proven to get the good calves,” Mohan said.
The Gir Amritphal co-founder said IFZCI has been formed mainly to train farmers and young entrepreneurs. “We will provide free training to farmers on how to select a good bull and a good specimen of cow. So that in the coming years, whatever comes, it will be the best,” he said.
Farmers would be given three month’s training. “I think by the end of this year, we will start training farmers from every part of the country. There won’t be any training charges. We will have Indian trainers plus external ones from other parts of the world. We will call experts every month or every three months,” Mohan said.
IFZCI will also hold special training sessions for amateurs, who have a good knowledge of cattle. Before that, the organisation would like to have its lab. “We are in the process of finalising equipment manufacturing companies for the laboratory. We are in touch with a German company to provide us with the laboratory equipment. ABCZ will help us,” he said.
‘Each one is unique’
Though India has 88 indigenous breeds that have their own special features, only eight are milching ones. “Other breeds have special qualities. Some are very good at running, some at carrying loads. We have to protect these breeds so that we don’t lose more like the ones we have already lost,” the milk firm’s co-founder said.
Stating that an Ongole bull commanded about ₹35 crore in Brazil a couple of months ago, he said this was because everything about the bull was mapped.
“This is our objective in the coming days. The Centre has banned export of Indian genetics. It is trying to ensure a high price for our genetics. Still, a dose of semen is $45, while an embryo costs $500. For a good cow, the earning could be ₹1.5 crore annually. It will bring good fortune to growers,” Mohan said.
As part of its efforts to bring awareness on indigenous breeds, IFZCI will hold “Zebu cattle fair” - Kamadhenu Gau Krishi Mahotsav - in November 2024 in New Delhi where all the 88 indigenous breeds will be showcased.
From love for vintage cars
On his own, Mohan breeds 12 Punganur cows and two Kangayam and Ongole bulls each. “I am in process of procuring Amrit Mahal, Hallikar and Kangeyam breeds. We will keep all 88 breeds in Gurugram. We will keep a few specimen of each (indigenous) cow,” he said.
For the Gir Amrtiphal co-founder, it was his love for vintage cars that got him into breeding indigenous cows. “In 2000, I went to the Maharaja of Bhavnagar to buy his vintage cars. I saw him maintaining 75 cows. I got to know that his family has been a pioneer in protecting Gir cows, which were exported to Brazil by the Maharaja’s grandfather Maharaja Krishna Singhji,” he said.
Mohan took two cows from the Maharaja, which over a period of 15-16 years multiplied to over 30. “So that’s how my journey (in cattle breeding and dairying) started. During this process, I learnt how the cow dung, urine and such things can be handy for agriculture,” he said.
This is when his friends and well-wishers asked him to begin supplying milk. Heeding to the suggestions, he first chose 150 acres of land to grow fodder. “We grow corn from March to June, jowar (sorghum) from June to August and then Alfa-Alfa grass (rajka in Hindi) from October onwards in 50 acres. Then, in another 50 acres we grow carrot, beetroot, folder, beet and turnip for the cows to have greater nutrition,” Mohan said.
The horticulture crops enhance the quality of milk. “Then we grow moringa (drumstick) on 25 acres, curry leaves on 15 acres, neem on two acres. All these are part of the daily fodder. We mix everything. Not a single leaf is sourced from anywhere outside,” the firm’s co-founder said.
Though all machines of the farm are imported from Sweden, the values are “Vedic”.
Gir Amritphal has with it on a 20-acre farm 500 gir cows, while it maintains other breeds such as 200 Nari cows, 100 Hariana, 100 Rathi, 100 Kankrej and 100 Red Singdhi on another 20 acre farm.
Gir Amritphal sells milk, butter, ghee, paneer and buttermilk (chach). “Plus very soon, we will launch our cheese also. We have started exporting to the US. We will begin shipping soon to Singapore and the UK.” Mohan said.
The cows provide 1,200-1,500 litres of milk a day and all are sold under the Gir Amritphal brand.