Tropical Animal Genetics: Enhancing Milk Yield through Rich Expertise in Bovine Genetics

Dr. Pravin Kini,  Founder & CEO

Dr. Pravin Kini

Founder & CEO

Milk, one of the healthiest drinks, is a major source of protein for India and other parts of the world. The burgeoning production of milk in India has placed it way ahead of other countries, besides projecting it as a net exporter of milk. Yet, the scenarios are gradually being reversed wherein India is forecasted to become a net importer of milk due to a spectrum of reasons. Well one best way to enhance the milk production is through bovine genetics. Standing as a leading player in bovine genetics and other animal sciences is Tropical Animal Genetics (TAG) that has been unveiling a range of innovative solutions to improve the genetics of bovine population in India. This way, TAG aims to ensure sustainable and affordable production of milk with the primordial goal of helping farmers double their income and also nourish the Indian population.

Into the Bovine World
There are a horde of problems hovering over the bovine world that are posing a grave threat to our future. Firstly, the bovine population is increasing at larger rates in India due to the major presence of unproductive cattle. In fact, this increase in bovine population stands as a serious threat of global warming, as cows belching and flatulence releases methane, a strong greenhouse gas with a GWP 104 times greater than CO2. Besides, cattle require humungous quantities of fodder, which involve huge costs, thus being a burden on farmers’ pockets. The other significant factors impacting the cattle are surging bovine diseases and declining Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) that portrays the amount of milk produced by cows against the fodder they consume.

Thanks to TAG and its long-standing experience and expertise in bovine genetics, the aforementioned problems are seamlessly being addressed and resolved through rigorous innovations across its R&D facilities at UK and India. With a deep rooted objective to enhance the milk productivity, the company is primarily endeavouring to strike a perfect balance between securing the livelihoods of livestock producers and saving the mother earth from drastic climate changes. Dr. Pravin Kini, Founder & CEO, adds, “In this pursuit, we aim to make farming more sustainable and also come-up
with more efficient and productive ways to feed the planet’s growing population”.

Wonders of Assisted Reproductive Technologies!
Let’s delve into the first issue of unproductive cattle. Since a long time farmers have been practicing indiscriminate breeding wherein they breed their existing cattle with the imported Holsteins and Jerseys, with the sole intention of enhancing the milk production. Since incompatible species are being bred here, there might be chances of vigour of progeny’s gene fading and eventually making it infertile. Moreover, the entire breeding process takes around 12 months (three months to attain the pregnancy + nine-month cycle). Even the sex of the progeny is a prime issue as the probability of having a female calf every time the cow gets pregnant is only 50 percent. To resolve these issues, TAG deploys In Vitro Breeding Technology, an Assisted Reproductive Technology(ART), wherein the fertilization of embryo happens at state-of-the-art laboratories. In fact, the company achieves to create multiple embryos by fertilizing multiple oocytes from female cows (with good lactation) with sperms of bulls (whose mother was lactating well) that can produce a female progeny. Hence, there is a 100 percent probability that the progeny will be highly productive and a genetically superior animal.

Bovine sperm sexing technology is another ART leveraged by TAG wherein its team identifies and separates the sperms with X chromosomes and fertilizes them with the oocytes in order to ensure a female embryo. When this embryo is transplanted into the uterus of the cow, there is a 90 percent chance that a female progeny is produced. Post two or more pregnancies, the same cow can transform into a sexually mature animal. But can this cow produce more milk for years to come? To address this, TAG is currently working on Pregnancy Free Lactation(PFL) to induce lactation in older infertile animals by mimicking pre parturition physiological state harmonically, which might restore their lactation capacity by almost 70 percent. Thus, cows will have fewer pregnancies over their lifetime without compromising milk yield and the bovine population can be decreased significantly. On the other hand farmers can relish 2.5 times their usual income and also overcome a range of problems. Dr. Pravin adds, “Assured revenue from assured lactation (PFL) and assured genetics(Embryo Technology) for the farmers is our mantra”.

In the near future, TAG has prospects to develop genetics for aqua and chicken, while its R&D facility at Edinburgh is closely working with Roslin Institute to develop new traits in cows for instance Foot Mouth Disease resistance with gene editing.

“Thanks to TAG’s Artificial Insemination services, high merit calves are being born, which is likely to lead to higher milk production, thereby ensuring profitability for our members. Besides, our cows can return to milk like earlier, which reduces the number of their dry days. We are thankful to TAG for helping increase the income of women in Chittoor District”.
-Jayatheertha Chary, CEO, Shreeja Mahila Milk Producer Company

Having played multiple roles at diverse organizations, Dr. Kini outshines as an inspirational leader who has combined the rigours of human medicine with genomics and assisted reproduction technologies to create a revolutionary species-agnostic animal breeding platform.

Offices:Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi & Edinburgh

•BIRAC Innovator Award 2018 for the Best Biotechnology Company (Agriculture) to TAG’s bioengineering subsidiary – Jiva Sciences for MBLSS bovine sperm sorting
•Bank of America Meryll Lynch recognition as the only Indian player in the genetics landscape for Animal Health Report 2019