Nutritional and Management Support to Reproduction in Dairy Buffaloes Under Tropical Conditions

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Dairy buffaloes contribute 86.57 million tons of milk out of which India’s contribution is the highest
(59.21%), followed by Pakistan, China and Egypt (20.37, 2.90 and 2.30%, respectively). The South-Asian region
supports 93.38% of the world buffalo population with a growth rate of 12.91% during the last decade as compared to
26.01% and 35.06%, in Pakistan and Italy, where special focus has been made on buffalo research and development.
The buffalo production system of the rural and peri-urban types expose them to a variety of management, feeding and
environmental stresses. Reproductive cyclicity and a normal pregnancy will only continue when there is no thermal,
nutritional or productivity stress. Buffalo reproduction is characterized by delayed puberty, silent estrus, long postpartum ovarian inactivity, and, on the whole, poor fertility. In peri-urban dairy farms in Pakistan during 150 days after
calving, 68.63% buffaloes were found in estrus. Postpartum ovulation interval was 59.37±4.76 days. A decline in
calving interval from 42 to 36 month during the period from 1975 to 2005 has been reported in Italian buffaloes. The
digestibility of crude protein is higher in buffaloes than high-yielding cows and they possess 5% higher efficiency of
utilization of metabolizable energy for milk production. Purine derivatives in buffalo urine are 50% of the other
species showing better nitrogen utilization due to lower glomerular filtration rate leaving more time for recycling to
the rumen and metabolized by bacteria. Response of buffalo is low and inconsistent to multiple ovulation and embryo
transfer (MOET) treatments, impeding the application of various biotechnologies aimed to enhance genetic progress
through the maternal contribution. The viable embryo production has increased significantly from less than 1 per
flushing to 2.5-3.0 in general and over 4 in isolated cases and conception rate following embryo transfer improved
from about 10% to about 30-40%. Ovarian inactivity associated with poor nutrition could be an important cause of
low reproductive rates in swamp buffalo cows, and that the condition could be prevented by adequate feed intakes.
Seasonality of reproduction is evident from the shortest postpartum ovulation interval noted during autumn with
lowest incidence of silent ovulations. It coincided with the minimum intake of crude protein and maximum intake of
metabolizable energy (ME). Photoperiod has a marked influence on buffalo reproduction in certain areas of the world,
however in some tropical areas nearest to the equator the light seems to have a minimal or no effect on the
reproductive cues however the nutrition and heat stress measured throughout temperature-humidity-indexes play an
important role in the reproductive functions of buffaloes. Body condition score (BCS) has been used as a good
indicator of energy status and the animals receiving more ME above requirements during prepartum period were able
to maintain a relatively good BCS despite mobilization of body reserves. Concentrates supplementation raised milk
progesterone levels (MPL) in high and low yielding buffaloes. Growth and development of follicles during periods of
negative energy balance lead to impaired development of the CL and a reduction in progesterone secretion. MPL
showed a pattern opposite to atmospheric temperature. It may be concluded that nutrition intervenes in reproductive
functions at almost all stages and it also interacts with other environmental parameters. A proper strategy is needed to
keep the animal productive, healthy and fertile with minimum input costs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-909
JournalPakistan Journal of Zoology
VolumeSupplement No.9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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