Jatandeep Singh Sangha
PG Scholar, Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Obstetrics, GADVASU, Ludhiana, Punjab, India
Buffalos have been regarded as a vital livestock animal, giving milk, meat, etc., majorly in the Asian regions. However, in recent years, there have been rising concerns about their reproductive health, female buffalos in particular. It’s important to recognize a few variables associated with reproductive health to guarantee their continuing production. In this article, the complexitiesreproductive biologyof buffalohas been explored by looking into fertility, subfertility, and infertility in female buffalos.
Importance of buffalos in agriculture
Buffalo farming is a crucial part of the agricultural sector. Buffalos are mostly raised in the north and west region. It is worth noting that the proportion of buffalos in the total bovine population in the country has continuously increased since independence. In India, there are more than 108 million Buffalo, accounting for approximately 57% of the global population of Buffalo. These buffalos contribute around 50 million tons of milk, which makes up 55% of India’s total milk production of 92 mt. These numbers highlight the impressive productivity of buffalos. Also, buffalos generate massive amounts of organic waste in the form of manure. In the fields, the excrement serves as a supply for organic fertilizer reducing the need for chemical field fertilizers. Milk from buffalos is high in protein and fat. The dairy business makes significant contributions to the agricultural economy. In India, the Murrah breed is a crucial milk-producing buffalo breed. Therefore, enhancing the growth and genetics of Murrahbuffalos is of great significance in India’s large ruminant industry. However, low reproductive efficiency remains a significant economic problem worldwide, with a higher incidence in Indian states. Various mechanisms involving the interplay of genetic and non-genetic variables impact a species’ reproductive efficiency.
Fertility, subfertility, and infertility in buffalo females: In Brief
Buffalos are one of the most adaptable animals, able to survive in a wide range of adverse conditions. They are majorly divided into two groups: river and swamp. In terms of reproductive traits also, there exist considerable differences among distinct buffalo breeds. To have an understanding of the buffalo reproductive process, it is important to study four stages; proestrus, Estrus, Metaestrus, and Diestrus. For instance, in the case of river buffalos, the approximate estrous cycle duration has been determined to be 22 days, although a fairly large fluctuation has been seen in rural environments.
Buffalos adapt to many challenges, such as social stress, thermal stress, physical ability to graze, and so on. Furthermore, various variables influence fertility, subfertility, and infertility in them. Fertility describes a female buffalo’s capacity to get pregnant and birth viable offspring. When coupled with an adult male during her fertile phase, a fertile buffalo cow can have typical estrus cycles, ovulate regularly, and conceive. Several factors, including age, diet, health, genetics, and management practices, have an impact on buffalo females’ fertility.
However, Buffalo’s productivity is low owing to inadequate management, nutrition, and breeding. Buffalo subfertility and infertility are one of the major problems that are responsible for low production. There are several causes of subfertility and infertility in Buffalo, and so many factors that govern the process. Buffalo subfertility and infertility have been linked to inheritance as well as environmental conditions. Subfertility, in particular, is defined as the reduction in fertility or decreased ability to maintain pregnancy. Unlike normal buffalos, subfertilebuffalos don’t conceive normally. They usually have more chances of embryo loss.
Whereas in the case of infertile buffalos, there is a complete loss of ability to give rise to viable young ones. In this case, Buffalo can’t conceive during the estrus cycle. No matter how many times a buffalo undergoes the mating process with a normal fertile bull, there is always a pregnancy failure. Infertile buffalos, of course, involve certain complications such as genetic disorders, reproductive infections, hormonal imbalances, etc. Additionally, infertilities in buffalos are categorized as; endometritis, dystocia, anoestrus, uterine torsion, and repeat breeding. Regardless of the type of fertility issue, it is important to take appropriate intervention and subject Buffalo to necessary treatment and medications. Besides, it is important to note that all these reproductive variables, fertility, subfertility, and infertility, are influenced and controlled by several factors in buffalos.
Buffalo ovaries are smaller compared to cattle ovaries, weighing around 3-6 grams on average. The buffalo ovary’s typical dimensions are estimated as 24 x 14.5 x 12.5 mm3. Furthermore, the corpus luteum, which is an important structure in the ovary, is typically located deeper within the ovarian tissue.
What are the factors that influence fertility in female buffalos?
Several factors, comprising genes hormones, diet, diseases, age, breeding practices, etc., influence fertility in female buffalos. Some of the major factors are explained as follows:
- Reproductive illnesses: Reproductive tract infections, such as metritis, endometritis, or sexually transmitted illnesses, might decrease female buffalo fertility.
- Hormonal changes: Changes in hormonal balance, for example, progesterone, estrogen, and luteinizing hormone, can disrupt the buffalo reproductive cycle and fertility.
- Genetic Factors: Genetic predispositions or anomalies can have an effect on buffalo reproductive health and fertility. Fertility problems can be caused by genetic illnesses or circumstances that impact reproductive organs or hormone production.
- Nutrition: Inadequate diet, particularly shortages in critical nutrients such as vitamins and necessary minerals, can result in impaired reproductive performance and lower fertility in female buffalos.
It refers to the stage of Buffalo’s life at which Estrus is observed. Generally, buffalo heifers reach this pubertal period at the age of 24-30 months with around 250 kg of body wt. Swamp buffalos, in particular, reach the pubertal period at the age of 20-24 months.
Body weight influences puberty in buffalos more than age. However, other factors, such as nutrition, birth, climate, genetics, management, immunity to diseases, and availability of mature male Buffalo, also control and affect puberty to a certain extent. In comparison to cattle, buffalo heifers mature slowly. One of the issues that contribute to decreased reproductive efficiency in the buffalo species is delayed puberty and, as a result, delayed conception (Sharma et al., 2014).
Veterinary care of female buffalos
Veterinary care and management play a very important role in improving the reproductive health of buffalos. Regular check-ups of the animal, along with physical examinations, are crucial to identify if there is any issue concerned with fertility. Another way of keeping buffalos healthy is vaccination. Give proper time-to-time vaccination to buffalos to protect them against possible diseases such as viral diarrhea, leptospirosis, etc. Plus, regular diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian, if there are chances of sexually transmitted diseases, is necessary to recover the animal from poor health. Besides, make sure buffalos are getting enough nutrition in their diet along with clean surroundings.
Techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryo transfer (ET), as well as artificial insemination (AI) have been found to be effective in reducing the chances of reproductive complications. They have proven to be a potential solution in terms of mitigating reproduction-related issues and in enhancing fertility and efficiency in conceiving. Furthermore, research is still going on to explore more advanced scientific techniques that could improve the reproductive health of female buffalos.
On the whole, Buffalo is an important animal for the agricultural and dairy sector. Continued study and developments in scientific procedures will help to improve buffalo fertility rates and ensure their long-term contribution to agriculture. Reproductive health is not determined by a single cause; from genetics to the environment, several variables influence fertility, subfertility, and infertility. However, the difficulties cannot be ignored. These problems in buffalos are becoming a major source of worry for the agricultural business. To achieve a safe pregnancy, farmers must pay attention to their reproductive health. They should do frequent veterinary examinations and provide suitable care and treatment. This would benefit both animal health and the dairy industry’s economics. Continued study and developments in scientific procedures will help to improve buffalo fertility rates and ensure their long-term contribution to agriculture.