Guwahati: Scientists at the National Research Centre on Mithun, in Nagaland, have successfully produced a calf from a cryopreserved embryo for the first time through embryo transfer technology.
Chandan Rajkhowa, director of the research centre, said till now, successful results based on pregnancy rates have been obtained with cryopreserved cow, sheep, goat, and horse embryos, but no work has been done on mithun.
The calf has been named Mohan and was born on May 12 at the institute.
“As the population of mithun is not high, the embryo transfer technology will definitely help to propagate quality germplasm of this magnificent species of animal,” he said.
The embryo was preserved in liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees Celsius) for 100 days.
This is the third successive birth of a mithun calf through embryo-transfer technology.
The first calf named Bharat was born in March 27 and is in good health. However, the second calf, Prihivi, which was born on May 11, survived only for two days because of premature delivery.
“Cryopreservation of embryo is a means of a long-term storage of valuable strains. This technique can be used to safeguard different valuable strains and also reduces animal housing costs,” Rajkhowa said.
The department of biotechnology has funded the project.
“Additionally, the standardised protocol for cryopreservation of mithun embryo will be of great help in the conservation and propagation of mithun in the field level,” he said.
Mithun (Bos frontalis), a domesticated form of wild gaur, is mainly confined to four states — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — in the Northeast.
According to the 2007 census, the mithun population in Arunachal Pradesh is 2,18,931 and 33,385 in Nagaland.
Currently, mithun is considered a meat animal and is sacrificed occasionally at religious and social ceremonies.
Scientists of animal physiology laboratory of the institute, K.K. Baruah, principal scientist and M. Mondal, senior scientist, under the leadership of Rajkhowa, had initiated the embryo transfer technology programme around five years back, and this is the third success in the similar field related to mithun.
Embryo transfer technology can be used successfully for improving the mithun population. By using this technology one can get several offsprings from a single female.
Normally, a female mithun gives birth to eight to 10 calves throughout its life span, but by using this technology one can get up to 100 calves.
The working group on animal husbandry and dairy constituted by Planning Commission said though primarily used for meat, mithun has great potential for quality meat, milk and leather production and there is a great scope to promote this animal as an organic meat and milk producer.
There is an urgent need of scientific intervention for proper management as well as conservation of this beautiful hill animal through implementing an effective conservation and improvement programme because of denudation of free range along with the various stresses,” the report said.