Once upon a time not so long ago …
Those were the days when we had only heard of frozen semen. Embryo transfer was not even heard of. It may have existed in textbooks and research papers but not in practice.
Insemination in cows and buffaloes with liquid semen was the order of the day.
We have come a long way in respect of improved technology for breeding of animals from ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION (AI) with frozen semen to sexed semen.
AI is perhaps one factor that made the biggest contribution to India’s effort to become not only self sufficient but also the number one producer of milk in the world.
Yes, I am talking of mid-seventies when NDDB Spearhead team was, for the first time, deployed in Patna (Bihar). Pelleted cattle feed was not introduced in Bihar till then. A cattle feed plant was coming up in Patna. Site of the cattle feed plant was far away from the city. Now this area has become a hub of institutions.
Cattle Feed Plant ( CFP) plant was being erected by NDDB as a turn-key project under Operation Flood program. Cattle feed plant, till then, was not commissioned.The NDDB Spearhead team had its office in the CFP complex.
Provision of milk production enhancement services
As we know, the Anand Pattern dairy cooperatives envisage, besides putting the institutional structure for milk procurement, processing and marketing into the hands of elected representatives of milk producers who in turn are supported by professional managers, provision of inputs for milk production enhancement to the milk producer members are also arranged.
It was because of this reason that we decided to first start with providing Veterinary services. We had many veterinarians, both in the Spearhead Team as well as in the Shadow Team. We could start this service without much difficulties. Response from the field was also quite encouraging.
The encouraging response helped us in starting another activity and that was Artificial Insemination.
Planning for action
However, there were certain pre launch preparations that were necessary before launching AI as milk production enhancement service such as;.
- Arrange for liquid semen
- Identify as a person in-charge for this activity
- Identify AI workers
- Training of AI workers
- Theoretical training
- Practical Training etc.
Our Team Leader helped us by arranging supply of liquid semen from the Government Bull Farm which was located nearby.
Our Team Leader bestowed his faith in me and I was honoured to be made in-charge of AI service.
Another important preparation was to identify village society level workers who would be trained in Artificial Insemination work. In other words, selection of trainee Artificial Insemination Workers (AIWs).
This exercise too was completed with the help of Milk Route in-charges and supervisors.
Once the AIW’s were identified next step was to organise their training.
The campus of the cattle feed plant was rather large. Therefore, it was decided to organise the training programme in the CFP complex itself. Arrangements for boarding, lodging, of the trainees were made and training material etc. was also arranged for theoretical training.
Theoretical knowledge is not enough
Only a theoretical training giving “gyan” to AI workers would not have been sufficient to launch the program, Therefore arranging practical training in AI became a very important activity to equip the AI workers with necessary skills to be effective in the field. For this we needed a cow or a buffalo.
After a lot of brain storming, we approached a slaughter house located in an area normally people would avoid going to. However, since I had been a past student of Bihar Veterinary College, Patna, as a part of my practical classes, I happened to visit this slaughter house on many occasions. I therefore, lined up with them.
They agreed that we bring our trainees to the slaughter house itself and do practice on the cows coming for slaughter. But this arrangement was very cumbersome. Also the slaughter house guys too, we noticed, were not feeling very comfortable as it was a practice that was violative of their privacy.
“Necessity is the mother of inventions” would perhaps be the right proverb to quote here as we did another round of brain storming to find a solution for which we NDDibians were famous.
Practice to learn skills
And the solution we arrived at was to arrange for cows from the slaughter house on rental basis and conduct practical training in our cattle feed campus itself.
I talked to the slaughter house people. They straightway rejected our proposal. However, after great persuasion, they finally agreed for outright sale of the cows as and when we needed. Finding no alternative, reluctantly, we bought one cow. We, however, were not allowed to select the cow.
The first cow which we brought to the campus for training purposes was very weak and dry. She had a history of being infertile and that was the reason that it got sold for slaughter. We had no choice but to buy that cow for practical training. This cow was fed properly for some days and no practical was carried out.
Only after some days when we found that she has become familiar to the surroundings and had improved her health, that the trainees were allowed for ‘ back racking ‘. Back racking is the process of manipulating internal genitals of a cow through her rectum. Gradually, that cow also got used to this exercise. She used to be let loose in that big campus which was full of green grasses.
Since that cow was looked after well, it started reflecting on her health. In addition, manipulation of her genitals, caused resumption of hormone secretion. This altogether made her to come in her oestrus cycle like any other normal cow. We, therefore, decided to inseminate her when she comes in heat next. And eventually, during her next heat she was inseminated.
We then stopped her back racking and brought another cow for practical training. To our surprise and wonder, the cow which was once dry and infertile, in very first insemination, became pregnant.
We finally sold her out, for good money, to one of the trainee AIW after she completed three months of pregnancy.
It would perhaps be very much appropriate to quote here the statement which our great leader, late Dr.V.Kurien used to make about Veterinarians.
He used to say, in lighter vain, that if a Veterinarian is around, one need not worry for any thing. He is the one who can set right any thing and every thing.
I salute him for his love for the veterinarians.
I also find this occasion befitting for greeting all senior veterinarians who contributed in making the Operation Flood program a great success.