India is home to more than 56% of world buffalo population. Although we have a huge livestock population, we are facing acute shortage of feed and fodder resources. Another major problem is the scarcity of the superior quality of animals and a majority of our buffaloes is low producer. This is posing huge challenges in substantially increasing country's milk production. Out of around 100 million milch cattle and buffaloes in the country, 47 million are buffaloes, 11 million are crossbred cows and 45 million belong to indigenous cattle breeds.
Scientists of National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal have developed the landmark technique i.e. “Handguided Cloning Technique” and have produced the world's first and second cloned buffalo calves. This technique is simpler and is an advanced modification of the “Conventional Cloning Technique” which was used for the production of the cloned sheep “Dolly”. The conventional technique required sophisticated and expensive equipments like micromanipulators etc.
This new technique is less demanding in terms of equipment, time and skill. In this technique the oocytes isolated from abattoir ovaries were matured in vitro, denuded, treated with an enzyme to digest the zona and then enucleated with the help of handheld fine blade. Then somatic cell from ear of a donor buffalo was propagated to be used as donor-nuclei. The enucleated oocytes are then electro fused with donor-nuclei, cultured, grown in the laboratory and the resultant embryos were transferred to recipient buffaloes for the production of the calf of desired gender. One of the biggest advantages of this technique is that the calf is of desired sex. This technique will lead to an new era of faster multiplication of superior germ plasm and help boosting the growth rate of milk in India.
The world's first buffalo calf through the “Handguided Cloning Technique” was born on February, 6, 2009 at NDRI, Karnal which died within 7 days after its birth. Subsequently, the second cloned calf “GARIMA” was born on 6th June, 2009 with the birth weight of 43 kg. The calf was fed her dam’s colostrum for first 5 days and thereafter was maintained on buffalo milk at the rate of one tenth of her body weight upto 3 months. Thereafter milk replacer/ concentrate supplement and the quality green fodder were also gradually introduced in the diet of the calf. She is presently consuming 5.0 kg milk in addition to about 1.5 kg concentrate mixture and about 8-10 kg green fodder. The calf has grown at the rate of over 800 grams a day which is higher than the growth rate of around 500 grams for the normally born calves of the similar age. At present the calf is weighing 202 kg (6.5months of age). The behavioural and the physiological parameters of the calf are normal. The technology of “Handguided Cloning” will go a long way to face the challenge of increasing demand of milk in view of growing human population in the country. There is an acute shortage of outstanding bulls and this technology can decrease this gap and supply the elite bulls in the shortest possible time.