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Opinion

Saturday, 13 January 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

Get river buffalo for dairy industry

ABOUT 90% of the milk and dairy products consumed in Malaysia are imported.

An attempt was made in the 1980s and 90s by the Veterinary Services Department (VSD) to develop our dairy industry to reduce our dependence on imported products. This involved rearing and breeding the pure-bred Frisian, which is well known for producing large quantities of milk.

But the attempt was not successful as the Friesian, a temperate breed of cattle, had poor heat tolerance and resistance to tropical cattle diseases, including heavy tick infestation and tick-borne diseases.

Subsequently, it was decided to import the Friesian-Sahiwal, offspring of the Friesian cross bred with the Sahiwal, a tropical breed of cattle. This cross-bred cattle had better heat tolerance and resistance to tropical diseases but produced less milk compared to the pure-bred Friesian.

There was massive importation by the VSD of this cross-bred cattle from Australia.

One important disadvantage was that when these cross-breds were mated together, their offspring, unlike their parents, produced far less milk and were thus not suitable as dairy cattle. Therefore, there was a need to continuously import them from Australia at great cost to keep our dairy industry running.

We should consider river buffaloes which, unlike our swamp buffaloes, produce large quantities of milk. Reared in Mediterranean countries, India and Pakistan, they have good heat tolerance and can adapt well to our climate provided they are bathed (hosed down) during hot weather. Their offspring would have the same milk-producing capacity as their parents too.

M. GANESHADEVA

Retired veterinary surgeon

Kuala Lumpur