CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government’s ban on the crossing of native bulls with exotic breeds has stirred a hornet’s nest among cattle farmers. The state government, bypassing the Tamil Nadu Bovine Breeding Act, 2019, has made it mandatory to get a fitness certificate for bulls from veterinarians, thereby restricting natural crossbreeding between indigenous bulls and cows. The act stipulates Rs 50,000 fine for offenders.
According to the Act passed in the Assembly on July 19 and gazetted recently, farmers, who keep bullsfor natural breeding, have to register with the government and it has to be renewed once in two years.
Moreover, the Act makes a breeding soundness certificate mandatory before inducting a bull. In the event of complaints, the authorised official is also empowered to enter the bull owner's premises without any notice to examine the animal.
“The Act will put thousands including those who rear bulls for jallikattu to hardship. Every farmer, who owns a healthy bull desires to breed. Why should the government official enter into the house of the farmers to examine the bulls?,” said P Rajasekaran, president of the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Federation, which campaigned against the ban of jallikattu, which got revoked in 2017.
“The move will deter rearing of native breeds by individual farmers. At a time when farmers commit suicide for Rs 20,000 debts, how can they pay Rs 50,000 penalty?,” said Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, managing trustee of Senapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation.
He said rights over bull have remained only with owners for several centuries. “State Animal Husbandry is one of the best functioning departments in the country. What is the necessity for it to have new law?” questioned Sivasenapathy.
But sources in the government have justified it by saying that the law was aimed at regulating bovine breeding as there was no legal framework to prescribe standards for frozen semen production and artificial insemination. The rampant violations in cross-breeding through artificial insemination has forced the government to enact the new law, they added.
Official sources pointed out that during cross-breeding with Jersey or Holstein Friesian frozen semen, the exotic breed blood level should not exceed 50 per cent. “But in reality, the exotic breed blood level in cows reaches between 60 and to 62.5 per cent. Such a high level may lead to serious complications,” said the sources.
According to official records, three frozen semen production stations are functioning under the Animal Husbandry department at Eachenkottai, Hosur and Udhagamandalam, which produced 52 frozen semen straws for artificial insemination last year. Each straw is charged Rs 10. About 450 bulls are reared in the stations for producing semen.
Though over 90 per cent of artificial insemination is carried out using the frozen semen doses manufactured by the government, the source of frozen semen straws used by private companies is not known, added officials. “Now private milk companies are bound to reveal the source and contents of the frozen semen,” they said.
The new provisions directing private artificial insemination service providers to get them registered with the government for producing frozen semen will only lead to the privatisation of the dairy industry. “The Act clearly facilitates the entry of corporates into cow breeding business whose net worth may run into several hundred crores,” said Sivasenapathy.
However, senior officials denied the charge and said frozen semen straws would continue to be produced by the government and there was no proposal to involve private companies in it. “Rules for implementing the Act are being finalised. An official notice will soon be issued,” they said.