Livestock Research for Rural Development 18 (9) 2006 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Buffalo: Black gold of Pakistan

M Q Bilal, M Suleman and A Raziq

Department of Livestock Management, University of Agriculture-38040 Faisalabad, Pakistan
Livestockmanagement2005@yahoo.com


Abstract

Buffalo is playing a leading role in the national economy by producing milk, meat and draught power. Out of total milk produced in the country, buffalo contributes about 68 %, followed by cattle (27%) and sheep/goat/camel (5%). Due to high fat contents of buffalo milk, it is the most preferred species in Pakistan. However, there are certain problems related to this species such as late age of maturity, long calving interval and silent heat. These problems can be solved through efficient management. At present, there are 26.3 million buffaloes in Pakistan, having a good production potential. In Pakistan, buffaloes not only fulfill the protein requirements of the human population by milk and meat, but are also have a great share in providing the traction power for various agricultural purposes. No doubt, we have the best breeds (Nili Ravi and Kundi) at world level but they are not producing according to their potential, mainly due to mis- management. In other parts of the world most of the buffalo population is swamp type. They are mainly used for draught purposes. Despite of these problems, there is room for improvement. Due to their versatile qualities they are rightly called as Black Gold of Pakistan.

The aim of this review paper is to point out the production performance of Pakistani buffaloes with a little touch to exotic buffaloes and the suggestions/recommendations to improve their performance to produce more.

Key words: Buffalo, breeds, milk, Pakistan, problems, suggestions


Introduction

Pakistan is primarily an agricultural based country and Livestock plays a pivotal role in its economy by providing essential items of human diet in the form of milk, meat and eggs etc. At present, livestock is contributing about 46.0 per cent of agricultural value added and 10.6 per cent to the GDP (Economic Survey of Pakistan. 2005). Foreign earnings of the livestock sector exceed 35 billion rupees annually. It also provides wool, hair, hide, skin, blood, bones, and farmyard manure and is a principal source of motive power for cultivation and rural transport. The role of livestock in rural economy may be assessed by the fact that 30 to 35 million of the total rural population is engaged in livestock related activities, having household holdings of 2 to 3 cattle / buffalo and 5 to 6 sheep and goats per family, deriving 30 to 40 per cent of income from it (Bilal and Ahmad 2004). These animals produced 29.472 million tones of milk during 2004-05 besides providing 1.115 million tones of beef and 0.740 million tones of mutton (Economic Survey of Pakistan 2004-05). The role of Livestock is also important to convert crop residues, agricultural by-products and wastes into milk, meat, wool, hair etc. In this regard especially buffalo can efficiently convert poor roughages into valuable products, like meat and milk. Otherwise these by-products and wastes would lead to an increase in environmental pollution, which is the most serious issue at present.

A milch buffalo is generally looked upon as a prestigious possession of the family, as the number of buffaloes kept by farmers determines the wealth and status in the society. To the rural poor and landless families, in house buffalo farming provides the only means of subsistence. During the last two decades there has been a growing awareness to develop buffalo-based dairy and meat industry in the near and far eastern regions. (Bilal 2004)

The total milk produce in the country is not fulfilling the human needs. The most important reason for this shortening is that, human population is increasing day by day (at the rate of 3 % annually), but the milk production is not increasing at the same pace. No doubt, milk production has shown an increasing trend over last several years, but this increase in milk production is due to increase in total number of milk producing animals and is not due to increase in per animal production. Presently, Pakistan is importing dry milk and products of worth Rs. 1.1 billion, which is a burden on our economy. The production per animal is less due to several reasons, some of them include, low genetic potential of our animals; late age of maturity; shortage of feed and fodder; high disease incidence; unorganized marketing system and farming on traditional lines (Bilal and Ahmad 2004). Beside of the fact that, when milk is compared with major crops, it is evident that the value of milk is more than the combined value of wheat and cotton and twice that of sugar cane and rice combined. (Bilal and Sajid 2005)


An overview of world buffalo

Important buffalo producing Asiatic countries are India, China, Pakistan, Thailand, Phillipines, Indonesia, Burma, Ceylon and Egypt. Milch buffaloes are, however, mostly found in Pakistan, India and Egypt. In other countries they are swamp type, which are primarily used as draft and meat animals.

World buffalo population has reached to 130 million (FAOSTAT 2005). Of all domestic animals, Asian buffalo holds the greatest promise and potential for production (Cockrill 1994). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO 2000) has rightly termed buffalo as an important but 'an asset undervalued'. The World buffalo population increased by 91% between 1961 and 2001. The buffalo in Far East is called as swamp buffalo and mainly used as a draft animal in paddy crops. This type of buffalo is of small size with compact body and having straight horns. While Mediterranean buffaloes found in Italy, the Balkan states, Turkey and in some part of Russia. This type of buffalo is also of small size giving 1400-1500 liters milk per lactation. Italian buffalo cheese is very much liked by the European people. Buffalo is also found in Iraq, Iran Azerbaijan and in the other countries of Middle East. But the major part of the said buffalo is found in Egypt followed by Iraq. This buffalo is a dual purpose animal mainly used for milk and meat following by traction in the fields. Major proportion of feral buffalo is found in Australia. This animal is mainly found in the forests and not yet domesticated. The water buffalo plays a vital role in the agricultural economy of the South-Asian and Far-Eastern countries, where nearly 96 % of its total population in the world is concentrated. In this vast, sprawling region, and in spite of the changing agrarian patterns, it continues to remain the major source of tractive power, milk and meat. At world level India ranked number one in buffalo milk production, followed by Pakistan, China and Egypt, respectively. However, Albania is the country producing only seven thousand tons of buffalo milk (Table 1).


Table 1.  Buffalo milk producing countries

Rank

 Countries

Production, MT

1

India

50.0

2

Pakistan

19.9

3

China

2.70

4

Egypt

2.55

5

Nepal

0.83

6

Iran

0.235

7

Italy

0.125

8

Myanmar

0.116

9

Sri Lanka

0.068

10

Turkey

0.048

11

Viet Nam

0.031

12

Iraq

0.0276

13

Bangladesh

0.0228

14

Malaysia

0.0073

15

Bulgaria

0.0045

16

Syrian Arab Republic

0.0015

17

Bhutan

0.0003

18

Greece

0.000045

19

Brunei Darussalam

0.000040

20

Albania

0.000007

Source: FAOStat 2005


Buffalo in the country

South Asia has five groups (Murrah, Gujrati, Utherperdesh, Central Indian and South Indian) of buffalo breeds. Of these groups the Murrah group (Nili, Ravi, Nili-Ravi, Kundi and Murra) is the leading one, both in the sense of meat and milk production. Nili-Ravi is the best performing animal of this group, producing more milk than the other breeds of the world (2500 liter per lactation) (Bilal, M.Q 2004) Pakistan is fortunate enough in having two best sub-tropical breeds of buffaloes such as Nili-Ravi and Kundi. The best buffalo animals are found in the canal fed areas of the country, where abundant fodder supply and crops by products are available. Here is an overview of the buffalo milk production compared with other species. In Pakistan buffalo is the major dairy animal contributing maximum in total milk production followed by cattle and sheep/goat, respectively. In last fourteen years a significant increase in total milk production (13.2 to 29.5 Million tons) occurred (Table 2). This increase may be attributed mainly to increase in the population of buffaloes, cattle, goat, sheep and partially to per head milk production increase due to adoption of modern husbandry practices by the farmers at a very limited scale.


Table 2.  Share of various species in total milk production (Million tons) in Pakistan

Fiscal year

Buffalo

Cattle

Goat

Sheep

Total

% increase

1991-92

9.50

3.03

0.566

0.042

13.2

 

1992-93

10.0

3.14

0.602

0.044

13.9

4.91

1993-94

10.6

3.25

0.64

0.047

14.6

5.18

1994-95

11.2

3.37

0.68

0.049

15.3

5.17

1995-96

14.9

7.46

0.509

0.03

22.9

50.2

1996-97

15.4

7.6

0.527

0.03

23.6

2.65

1997-98

15.9

7.74

0.546

0.03

24.2

2.69

1998-99

16.4

7.89

0.565

0.03

24.9

2.73

1999-2000

16.9

8.03

0.586

0.031

25.6

2.76

2000-01

17.5

8.19

0.607

0.031

26.3

2.8

2001-02

18.0

8.35

0.652

0.031

27.0

2.93

2002-03

18.6

8.51

0.652

0.031

27.8

2.79

2003-04

19.2

8.75

0.669

0.031

28.6

2.92

2004-05

19.7

9.00

0.729

0.031

29.5

2.96

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2004-05


Trends in buffalo population

Buffalo is the most valuable animal and is being highly liked by the people of the sub-continent. Buffalo milk is preferred more than the cow's milk therefore the demand for buffalo milk is ever increasing. The modernization and economic uplifting due to industrialization and education has also increased the country milk demand especially in the big cities. Therefore the bhens colonies (buffalo colonies) came into being near the metropolis of Pakistan and India. Karachi and Bombay are the best examples. Due to the ever increasing demand in the milk especially the buffalo milk for higher butterfat contents and developed taste of the consumer a big shift of the buffalo is coming in being to fulfill such an increasing demand. Table 3 indicates that buffalo population increased from 17.8 million to 26.3 million during 1990 to 2005.


Table 3.   Age and purpose wise buffalo population (million no.)

Fiscal Years

Buffalos

Bulls
3>

Breeding Bulls

Working Bulls

Buffalos
3>

Lactating
Buffalo

Dry
Buffalo

Buffalo not
yet calved

1990-91

17.8

2.88

0.178

0.142

3.86

6.85

2.13

1.73

1991-92

18.3

2.96

0.183

0.146

3.97

7.04

2.19

1.77

1992-93

18.7

3.02

0.187

0.149

4.05

7.19

2.24

1.81

1993-94

19.2

3.11

0.192

0.153

4.16

7.39

2.30

1.86

1994-95

19.7

3.19

0.197

0.157

4.27

7.58

2.36

1.91

1995-96

20.3

3.28

0.203

0.162

4.40

7.81

2.43

1.97

1996-97

20.8

3.36

0.208

0.166

4.51

8.00

2.49

2.02

1997-98

21.4

3.46

0.214

0.171

4.64

8.23

2.56

2.07

1998-99

22.0

3.56

0.220

0.176

4.77

8.47

2.64

2.13

1999-00

22.7

3.67

0.227

0.181

4.92

8.73

2.72

2.20

2000-01

23.3

3.77

0.233

0.186

5.05

8.97

2.79

2.26

2001-02

24.0

3.88

0.240

0.192

5.20

9.24

2.88

2.32

2002-03

24. 8

4.01

0.248

0.198

5.38

9.54

2.97

2.40

2003-04

25.5

4.13

0.255

0.204

5.53

9.81

3.06

2.47

2004-05

26.3

4.26

0.263

0.210

5.70

10.1

3.15

2.55

Source: Economic survey of Pakistan


Following are the main and elite buffalo breeds, along with their home tract and characteristics.

Nili-Ravi

Home Tract of this breed ranges in the belt between the Sutluj and Ravi rivers of the Punjab province. Actually Nili and Ravi were two different breeds long before, but due to the passage of time and with intensive crossbreeding the two breeds converted into single breed. Some typical specimen of Nili and Ravi are still found in the rural areas of the province. The main areas where this breed is found are Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Okara, Sahiwal, Multan, Bahawalpur and Bahwalnagar. However due to its good dairy characteristics, it is now found in all over the country and even imported by several other countries of the world.

The body of the animal is massive and wedge shaped with black color but often has white markings on the muzzle, lower parts of the legs, fore head and switch of the tail. Due to these typical markings, animals of this breed are often termed as Punjkalian. They have small curly horns, wall eye and a large, strong udder. Males attain maturity at 30 months of age and female at 36 months of age. Milk yield is 1800-2500 liters with a 6.5% fat. Due to these remarkable milk production abilities it is called as The Black Gold of Asia. Body weight of the males reaches to 550-650 Kg; while that of the females is 350-450Kg. (Shah 1994).

Kundi

Home Tract of the Kundi breed of Buffalo lies on the both sides of river Indus from Kashmore to Shah Bandar (Sindh). These are found mainly in Haiderabad, Karachi, Larkana, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas and other parts of Sind, in Quetta and adjoining areas of Balochistan province. Physical Characteristics of the breed include the massive jet-black body, horns are broad at the base and taper up ward and in ward (fish hook shape), broad fore head, short neck and medium sized ears. The head is relatively small. The forehead is broad and somewhat prominent. Animals with white markings on the forehead are discriminated against in the showing. Dewlap is absent. Legs are short and straight. The udder is moderately developed and is well tucked up. Typical Kundi animals are seen only in remote villages. Production Parameters are described as the males reach to maturity at the age of 30 months and the females at 36 months of age. Milk yield of the breed is 1700-2200 liters with a 6% butterfat. Body weight of the male is 500-600Kg, while 300to 400 Kg of the female. (Shah 1994).


Milk production

It would be seen that the Pakistani buffaloes are the best milch buffaloes in the world. There is considerable genetic variation, which could be judiciously exploited by selective breeding for higher production. At present there is no milk recording organization in Pakistan for the buffaloes and as such several good producing animals are likely to be overlooked. Nili-Ravi breed has the potential to produce more as compared to Kundi as it matures earlier, has shorter calving interval and dry period (Table 4).


Table 4.  Production performance of buffalo breeds

Traits

Breeds

Nili Ravi

Kundi

Age at first calving, days

1390

1640

Lactation period, days

322

325

Lactation yield, liters

2430

2315

Average milk /day, liters

7.5

6.8

Calving interval, days

512

551

Dry period, days

190

226

Source: Haq 2000


Pakistani buffaloes have the potential of giving over 5000 liters of milk per lactation through efficient breeding, feeding and health care program. Nili Ravi is the best breed at national and international level in terms of its production potential. No doubt, average milk yield per lactation is 2430 liters but such animals of Nili Ravi breed are also available, producing 3000-5000 liters/lactation.

Milk and meat products form integral parts of human diet and account for 70 per cent of animal protein intake. The availability of milk is relatively high in Pakistan when compared to other regional countries. Pakistan produced 29.472 million tones of milk and 1.115 million tones of beef during 2004-2005. The population of the country was 148.72 million (Economic Survey. 2004-2005). Out of the total milk produced, 68 per cent is contributed by buffaloes, 27 per cent by cows and the remaining 5 per cent by sheep, goats and camels. Keeping in mind such a big contribution in the country's milk production, buffalo becomes the most important animal of the country.


Figure 1.   Buffalo milk vs total milk production


On the whole milk production basis, keeping in view the present population 192.46 liter milk is available per capita per annum. (The milk availability was calculated by dividing the produced milk of the country (28.624 million tonnes) by the total human population (148.72 million) of the country). A hypothesis is there that 20% of the milk is fed to the calves (5.724 mil ton), therefore 22.900 mil ton milk remains and only 153.98 liter milk /capita/annum is available. Generally it is said that 300 liters milk/capita is annually needed. According to the requirement Pakistani citizen is deficient of 146 liters milk per annum. Pakistan is the fifth largest milk producing country in the world. (EC, United States, India, Russian Fed and then Pakistan). The largest number (over 80%) of buffaloes in Pakistan calve during the period of July to December. Thus the buffalo dairymen in the country are confronted with the problem of seasonal surplus milk which is usually converted into various products and short supply during the slack season. Daily yield of the lactating buffaloes in Pakistan may be as low as 2-2.5 kg in a poor village animal and as high as 20.0 kg on a well managed farm. Buffalo milk is much richer than cow's milk with an average butterfat content of over 7%. The SNF content is around 9-10.5 % and is generally slight higher than that of cow's milk. The milk is very popular throughout the country and sells at a higher price than cow's milk due to its high fat and solid contents. The milk provides the basis for dairy produce such as ghee, dahi, butter, milk powder and baby food. (Banerjee.1983). Viscosity of buffalo milk is 2.04 as compare to that of cow milk, which is 1.86 only. The average fat globule size of buffalo milk is large than that of cow milk (Table 5).


Table 5.   Physio-chemical constants of milk

Parameters

Buffaloes

Cows

Density at 20 C

1.02

1.02

Viscosity

2.04

1.86

Refractive index

1.345

1.33

Specific refractive index

0.206

0.205

Surface tension, dynes/cm

55.4

55.9

Acidity, %

0.13

0.15

pH

6.7

6.6

Freezing point depression

0.560

0.570

Average size of fat globules, micron

5.01

3.85

Number of fat globules, million/mm3

3.2

2.96

Phosphate activity, units/100

28

82

Fluorescence under UV light

Greenish yellow

Pale bluish

Source: Eckles et al 2001


The colour of buffalo milk is different from that of cow under UV fluorescent light (buffalo milk greenish yellow and that of cow is pale bluish). The buffalo milk has added value as it has low cholesterol and high calcium levels as compare to other species (Table 6).


Table 6.   Buffalo milk composition compare to others

Constituents

Cow

Goat

Sheep

Buffalo

Protein, gm/100gm

3.2

3.1

5.4

4.5

Fat, gm/100 gm

3.9

3.5

6.0

8.0

Carbohydrate, gm/100gm

4.8

4.4

5.1

4.9

Energy, K cal

66

60

95

110

Energy, K J

275

253

396

463

Sugars (Lactose), gm/100gm

4.8

4.4

5.1

4.9

Fatty Acids:

 

 

 

 

Saturated,gm/100gm

2.4

2.3

3.8

4.2

Monounsaturated, gm/100gm

1.1

0.8

1.5

1.7

Polyunsaturated, gm/100gm

0.1

0.1

0.3

0.2

Cholesterol, mg/100gm

14

10

11

8

Calcium, IU

120

100

170

195

Source: Eckles et al 2001


Buffalo Milk also contains high levels of the natural antioxidant Tocopherol. Peroxidase activity is normally 2-4 times that of cow's milk. An unfortunate sign of the times is the growing number of people who suffer from cow's milk allergy (CMA).

Fortunately this is not the case with Buffalo milk which is suitable for many suffer from CMA. The high milk solids of Buffalo milk not only make it ideal for processing into superb dairy products but also contribute to significant energy savings in conducting that process. Yogurts are natural thick set without recourse to adding addition milk proteins or gelling agents as with lesser milks. Unlike the modern dairy cow the buffalo can thrive without the need to use high levels of concentrated feed. Grass, clover and straw make up the bulk of a buffaloes diet. No bone meals, fish meals or genetically modified feeds are ever fed to our buffalo.

Buffalo meat production

Buffaloes are kept primarily for milk production in Pakistan. The males and dry buffaloes are used for work in carts and various agricultural operations. The adult animals are normally slaughtered when they are un-economical for milk production or work. As compare to cow calves, the buffalo calves have higher live weight at birth, show faster growth and can utilize low quality fodder more efficiently. The average gain in live weight per day is 1.87 lb up to one year and 1.46 lb up to two years of age. It may incidentally be pointed out that this gain is under ordinary conditions of feeding and management. They were not specifically raised for beef production. If fed on balanced economical rations and properly cared for, a daily gain in wt. of 2.25 lb in healthy male calves would not be difficult to achieve.

In Balochistan and North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) buffalo meat is preferred to the cattle beef , as it is considered to be free of disease due to buffalo water preference( buffalo swims in water and the diseases are washed). With proper fattening practice of male for beef can make the buffalo meat industry a valuable meat business inside and outside the country. We can fulfill the ever increasing meat demand inside the country and can earn a handful foreign exchange by exporting buffalo meat as free of mad cow disease (BSE). But the current situation is not appreciable with respect to the buffalo meat production. Almost 50 % of the male calves die during the first week of their life. The remainders are mostly sold to the butchers at one week of age to cash more and more milk for harvesting the higher prices of the milk. If some male calves remain alive and not sold to the butcher even then they remain weak and emaciated due to milk deficiency in the early life and malnutrition in the rest of life. Buffalo growth rate is compatible with other exotic cattle breeds. 

Buffalo meat is very popular in most buffalo loving countries although it comes from culled animals or surplus males. Of 242 630 374 tonnes total world meat, 3 089 875 tonnes comes from buffalo (FAOSTAT 2003). A Swamp buffalo with 592 kg average live weight yields 277 kg carcass and 215 kg meat (Thu et al 1995). Calves slaughtered at 18 months of age have dressing percentage of 50. Eating poor quality roughage, buffalo grow faster than cattle because of their better digestibility (Sebastian et al 1970). The cost of fattening per kg bodyweight is therefore much lower for buffalo than cattle (Chantalakhana 2001). The 'Landhi Cattle Colony' of Pakistan has the world's biggest concentration with approximately 250 000 buffalo/cattle (Younas and Yaqoob 2002). Buffalo meat has little cholesterol as compared to the cattle beef. The color of the buffalo meat is slightly dark reddish with comparison to the cattle beef.

The buffalo meat is of good quality as compared to the cattle beef because of the low cholesterol. Therefore it may be preferred over the cattle beef for the cholesterol sensitive people. Meat of the buffalo is free from the worries of BSE and therefore may be recommended for export to the Gulf countries, as the Gulf countries have banned the import of the European beef because of the contamination with the BSE. Buffalo milk is very white and beautifully smooth. It is significantly lower in cholesterol and higher in calcium than cows, sheep or goat milks. Buffalo milk has 43% less cholesterol than cow's milk on the basis of per gram butterfat basis. It has 58% and 40% more calcium and protein than cow's milk respectively. In addition to the significant cholesterol and calcium benefits Buffalo Milk is also a rich source of iron, phosphorus, vitamin A and of course protein.

Buffalo meat is popular in a number of developing countries including Pakistan. In general the meat is richer in protein in comparison to meat of beef. Meat from much elderly animals have a poor flavor, while from young ones, it is lean, tender, less fatty, palatable and considered a delicacy. Buffalo meat contains white fat as the beta carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), which is golden yellow in color, is fully converted into vitamin A, which is colorless. The crude protein level of buffalo meat is 20.2 %, which is higher as compare to that of cow meat as indicated in table 7.


Table 7.   Chemical composition of buffalo meat as compared with that of cattle

Characteristics

Cattle

Buffalo

Moisture, %

76.2

74.4

Crude protein, %

19.2

20.2

E E, %

1.13

1.03

Ash, %

1.10

1.11

NFE, %

2.28

3.24

Total pigment, mg/gm

2.30

4.10

Myoglobin, mg/gm

1.50

2.50

Cholesterol, mg/100gm

54.8

64.0

Source: Banerjee 1983


Draught power

As indicated earlier there is a definite trend in Pakistan to rear male cow calves particularly those of draft breeds for work and female buffalo calves for milk production. On the whole the buffalo males are somewhat sluggish and are incapable of doing hard work continuously in summer during hot parts of the day because of poorer heat regulation mechanism. However, during winter months and cooler parts of the day, they are as good as the bullocks and quite often work side by side with them in pulling carts or ploughing fields. Other things being equal an average bull has more traction power, is more sure footed, is better suited for work in rice fields and swampy areas, has greater stamina under favorable weather conditions and is more docile. A well built healthy buffalo bull can pull as much load in a two wheeled cart as a pair of average bullocks. Long two wheeled carts drawn by one buffalo bull are quite common in the cities of NWFP and the Punjab. The buffaloes possess strong large feet, strong legs and powerful quarters, which enable them to maintain balanced traction and overcome the opposing forces of ploughing in hard soil, sticky mud or pulling heavy loads in low land rice field. An average pair of buffalo bulls can haul 2-2 ½ tons of load in a cart fitted with peren numatic tyres over a distance of about 20 miles working 6-8 hrs a day. The buffalo males are particularly useful for steady work in Persian wheel, oil expellers, and threshing of harvested crops. They are so trained, that they work automatically. They have broad backs and can carry an 8-10 mounds of load as pack animals over 25-30 miles working for 8-10 hrs a day. The average speed is 3 miles an hour. Buffaloes as a draft animal, has working capacity of 0.75 HP. In hot humid weather it is necessary to let working buffaloes cool off preferably by wallowing.
 

Other products

Horns

When the horns are properly handled and processed, they provide a variety of practical and decorative articles including buttons, toggles, combs, spoons, forks, knife handles, napkin rings, wall decoration, shoes, horns, etc.

Hides

The hide of water buffalo is an important item both for export and for local industry. Pakistan is one of the world's largest producers of good quality hides and skins, and about a million water buffaloes are slaughtered annually. Leather is considered to be the most important raw material in the country's economy.

Faeces

Tremendously used as fuel and organic fertilizer by the rural people.

Hairs

Buffalo hairs are twice as thick as those of the bovine breeds, which render them suitable for brush production rather than felt.


Problems

Buffaloes have the potential to produce more but certain mal-practices are deteriorating their potential day by day. The use of oxytocin for milk let down and BST to increase milk production is a common practice all over the country particularly in Landhi colony, Karachi, resulting the animals to become infertile. Such animals fail to conceive and are sold to the butchers. In this way hundreds of elite buffaloes are slaughtered each year (Bilal et al 2005). The high incidence of mastitis in buffaloes is also one of the major contributory factors towards lower productivity. The longer teats of this species and habit to sit in dirty muddy places along with milking with folded thumb and use of calf for milk let down increases the risk of mastitis (Bilal et al 2004)

Another set back to the buffalo is the illegal shift to the neighboring countries to cash the highest prices. Keeping in view the above facts, it is very easy to understand the negative growth rate in buffalo population.

Buffalo silent heat is the major limiting factor of the buffalo milk production. A reasonable number of the buffalo fail to conceive due to silent heat. Buffalo comes in heat mostly in hard summer season while the animal is already in stress due to heat. Buffalo due to its black color is more sensitive to the heat than the indigenous cattle of the country. Therefore sound and research oriented steps may be taken to minimize the non producing portion of the buffalo population.

Dairy animals of Pakistan particularly buffaloes are severely deficient in feed and fodders, resulting in low production as compared to actual potential.

At national level a very few farmers are adopting the recommended management packages and most are followers of traditions.

Despite of all efforts against buffaloes from the policy maker's side, the buffalo continues to gain popularity. The buffalo was discriminated against due to her late age at first calving, long calving interval and some breeding problems. Actually, this state of affairs reflects on the professional incompetence and can be surmounted through professional competence and research.. As mentioned earlier, the potential of buffalo could not be exploited due to certain personal biases against the species. There has been deterioration rather than improvement of the stock due to indiscriminate breeding without considering the genetic merit of animals, particularly that of buffalo bulls.

In the absence of systematic milk recording in the country, the selection of animals particularly that of males has never been possible on scientific basis at the farmer's level. Even at the organized farms, the selection of males is based on pedigree and type, and also from high yielding buffaloes and cows. The bulls have never been assessed for their breeding values on the performance of their daughters. Along with certain other factors, the selection of bulls merely on the basis of pedigree and type has also been speculated for this impaired situation. Such bulls are in widespread use for artificial insemination in this country.


Suggestions

To obtain improvement in the productivity of buffaloes following line of action is suggested.


References

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Received 31 May 2006; Accepted 21 July 2006; Published 13 September 2006

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