Kerala is gearing up to become a key player in pig farming through genetic improvement of the swine population.
The Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) has started importing boar semen from Canada for artificial insemination of pigs. As many as 340 doses of high genetic value semen of Large White Yorkshire, Landrace and Duroc breeds were imported in the first phase of the project to be implemented at KLDB’s pig breeding centre at Edayar, Koothattukulam.
“It is the first such venture by a State government department,” says Jose James, Managing Director, KLDB. The semen imported from Polar Genetics, Canada, was delivered to the PBC late March after quarantine and screening for probable swine diseases.
A Canadian team comprising Alfred Wahl, President, Polar Genetics, and Chris Crump, AI expert and trainer, were at the PBC for training of veterinarians. The team used the imported semen to inseminate 11 sows at the farm. The KLDB expects a 30% conception rate in the pilot phase.
The pig population in Kerala has registered a drop from 76,000 in 2003 and 59,000 in 2007 to 55,780 as per the 2012 census figures. “The gradual decline is a worrying trend since the State has to depend more on meat imported from other States,” says Dr.James.
Pig farming is a profitable venture but non-availability of fattener piglets is a problem for farmers. Breeding farms find it difficult to get parent stock of popular exotic breeds.
“The project seeks to ensure genetic improvement of the swine population by producing a nucleus breeding stock and supplying quality fattener piglets to farmers,” Dr.James explains.
“Since the technology of freezing boar semen is currently not available in India, we have to depend on imported boar semen for some more time,” he said.
The PBC at Koothattukulam has a well defined breeding programme which depends on three lines of similar productivity and growth as the nucleus herd. The programme involves crossbreeding of two lines to produce hybrid females with better growth and reproductive traits. The two-way crosses are then bred with the third line to increase the hybrid vigour.
Dr.James said other States would have to adopt similar breeding programmes to develop pig farming as an industry.