Brazil on an embryo hunt for Ongole breed

Finding Brahman

Brazil on an embryo hunt for Ongole breed

The Brazilian government has sought permission from the Andhra Pradesh Biodiversity Board to take 5,000 embryos of the famous Ongole breed of cattle, also known as the “Brahman”.

Brazil already has 2.5 crore cows of this breed but wants to breed more through surrogacy and has offered to pay $500 per embryo. The request is pending with the Ministry of Animal Husbandry of Andhra Pradesh.

“Brazil, which has smuggled Ongole bulls and cows from India since 1960s, has been selling beef to almost 26 countries. The Ongole cows also give a record 45 litres of milk per day, making them the most productive cattle in the world,” former chairman of the AP Biodiversity Board Dr Hampaiah said.

The hardy and disease-resistant Ongole breed saved the South American country when the “mad cow disease” wiped out all the other American and European breeds.

However, sources said the Andhra Pradesh government is concerned about the illegal trade of the Ongole bull in the international market through the annual cattle competitions in different parts of the country. The government has noted that during such cattle competitions in Nandyal, Emmiganur and Tadipatri, agents from Ahmadabad have offered up to Rs 40 lakh for the winning Ongole bull.

“These competitions are the gateways for such illegal cross-border cattle trade,” said an official from the Animal Husbandry department.

As a result of the illegal transport of embryos and semen to Brazil and other countries, the real Ongole breed has disappeared from India. Most of the Ongole cattle here are cross breed of the Holstein Friesian or Jersey breeds because of flawed artificial insemination policies in the name of increasing milk production and the belief that Indian breeds are aggressive and the foreign ones are docile.

“In recent months, a farmer from Kurnool tried to buy a pure Ongole from Brazil and they demanded Rs 7 crore per bull,” Hampaiah said, stressing the need to further develop the breed which is in demand world over.

Ongole (also known as “Nellore”) cows are beautiful, majestic animals with light grey hair coat, upward pointing horns and a shorter ear compared to the “American Brahman”. According to Mullapudi Narendra Nath, the Secretary of the Ongole Cattle Improvement Society, the Ongoles are no longer restricted to the six districts of AP but are now an international breed, spread across the Americas, a few countries in Africa, the Far East and Australia.

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