Academe of Grassland and Animal Science, Yunnan, China
Academe of Grassland and Animal Science, Yunnan, China（Yunnan Beef Cattle & Pasture research Center）was established in 1983 on the foundation of Sino-Australia technology program “Yunnan Livestock and Pasture Development Project”. The center now is a provincial key institute on applicable technology research for beef cattle and pasture production. Locating about 30 km away from Kunming city, the center holds 72 working staffs, among whom 15 are senior researchers (including tutors for master degree graduate student) and 23 of middle-level. In the past twenty years, 25 staffs have been trained in the relevant speciality in Australia, Great Britain, the United States, Japan, Brazil and Holland successively. Under the great support and concerns from all levels of governments and with the cooperation from the experts both abroad and domestic, the center has made many achievements and accumulated a lot of experience on tropical beef cross breeding, technology integration for beef and goats production, beef and goats embryo transplantation, pasture species evaluation, establishment and utilization of pasture, pasture management and collection of pasture resources.
The center has respectively completed ranges of national and international cooperative research programs known as “the Research on Sustainable Utilization for Livestock and Pasture on Yunnan and Guizhou Plateau ” from the Ministry of Science & Technology of China, “the Research on Ufobium Control ” from Agricultural Academy of China, research projects of the Eighth-Five、Ninth-Five and Tenth-Five Year Rolling Development Programs from the Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan province, “Synthesized Development on Agriculture and Forest in North Laos ” aided by Chinese Government to Laos, “the Research on Improving the Productivity of Ag-livestock System in the Tropic of the Southeast Asia” from International Livestock Research Institute and two Yunnan provincial technical programs of “Introduction and Domestication of Quality Livestock Breed from Abroad ” and “Breeding Program for Stud Beef and Goat”. At present, the center has been undertaking and implementing two projects supported by the Ministry of Science & Technology of China and a number of key research and extension projects on livestock technology supported by the Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan Province. The center has equipped with good facilities and a 600-hektare model farm for research, experiment and demonstration. The center owns more than 650 head of Brahman and MBY cattle, 1200 head of Yunnan Black goats and keeps over 850 quality pasture species and germ plasmas. Through years efforts made, the center has not only accumulated abundant experience on livestock and pasture technology research and production extension but also trained a qualified team for the mission of modern livestock development. With more than 10 research achievements made, about 400 technological thesis and 4 specialized publications published, the center has been awarded over ten science and technology praises including one second award of advanced science and technology issued by the Agricultural Academy of China, five second and six third awards of advanced science and technology as well as tow first awards of science and technology extension issued by the Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan Province.
Facing the requirement of research and development, the center is integrated with beef research section, pasture research section, science & technology management section, animal genetic & breeding lab, plant analysis lab and an executive section as its whole structure.
Research on Ruminant Animal
In the ruminant animal research aspect, main efforts have been put on animal nutrition, animal crossbreeding improvement, new breed selecting and breeding, embryo transplanting and sex control embryo production for beef cattle and goat. Since 1983, a number of promising achievements have been made in the ruminant animal program. With over 20 research and production projects supported by the Ministry of Science & Technology of China, Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan Province, the International Livestock Research Institute and Bureau of Agriculture of Yunnan Province successfully completed, it has laid out a solid foundation on the research and utilization of ruminant animal and provided the technology in store for livestock industry development in future. To list a few, these completed research projects are as following：
___“Improvement of Ag-livestock Production System in the Tropical Zone in the Southeast Asia ”
___“the Research on Sustainable Utilization for Livestock and Pasture on Yunnan and Guizhou Plateau ”
___ “Project of Livestock and Pasture Development in Southern Yunnan” From Australian Embassy
____“Research on Beef Breeding and Selection of Crossbreeding Combinations for Tropical and Subtropical Zone in Yunnan”
____ “Research on Utilization of the Advantage of Beef Crossbreed and Its required Technology in Yunnan”
____“Research on Beef New Breeds Breeding Program in Tropical and Subtropical Zone in Yunnan”
____“Research on Utilization of the Advantage of Boer Goat Crossbreed and Its required Technology in Yunnan”
____ “Research on Buffalo Crossbreeding Combinations for its Meat and Milk Performance in Yunnan ”
____“Research on Genetic Diversity of Yunnan Beef Cattle”
____“Introduction of Pure Cattle Breed Gene and Establishment for Embryo Transplanting, Quality Beef and Dairy Production”
____“Research on Storage of Frozen Cattle Embryo and Its Effect Testing System”
____“Research on Improvement of Pregnancy and Calving of Recipient Cows in Embryo Transferring”
____“Research on Beef Embryo Producing and Frozen Technology”
____“Research on In Vivo Ovum Collecting and In Vitro Fertilization” ____“Research on Applicable Techniques for On-ground Silage Making”____“Research on Applicable Techniques for Forage Making with Artichoke”
____“Introduction and Domestication of Simmental, Shorthorn and Australian Brahman”
The major projects undertaken by the center at present are those of following：
____“Research and Establishment of Technical System for Quick Extension of MBY Breed”
____“Research on Key Technology and Integrated Demonstration for Mutton Goat and Beef Cattle Industry in Yunnan”
____“Research on Key Technology for Utilization of Bos frontalis Crossbreeding and Its Breed Extension”
____“Research on Techniques for Improving the Number of Available Embryo of MBY”
____“Research on Sexual Behavior of Semi-wild Bos frontalis in China ”____ “Research on Technology of Buffalo Crossbreeding Improvement for Its Meat and Milk Performance”
____“Extension on the Techniques for On-ground Silage Making ”
____“Facilitating the Breeding Program of the Tropical Beef MBY by Implementing the New Techniques of Group Selecting and Breeding”
____“Embryo Transplanting of Rubian Goat and Pure Rubian Gaot Demonstration and Extension”
____“Improvement of A.I System of Cattle”
With the implementation of above programs, it will certainly promote the livestock industry in Yunnan developed soundly and stably.
The most promising achievements from ruminant animal research are the breeding of tropical beef new breed MBY, performance improvement of Yunnan Black Goat and application of beef and goat embryo transplanting technology. The most promising achievements from ruminant animal research are the breeding of tropical beef new breed MBY, performance improvement of Yunnan Black Goat and application of beef and goat embryo transplanting technology.
MBY breeding program is based on the crossbreeding of three breeds as Murray Gray, Brahman and Yunnan Yellow Cattle with the finisher breed containing one-second blood from Brahman, one-fourth Murray Gray and one-fourth of Yunnan Yellow Cattle. The crossbreed turns out a new breed well adapted to the tropical and subtropical environment with character of Brahman in good resistance to babesiosis disease caused by ticks, quality beef producing performance of Murray Gray and precocity and adaptability of Yunnan Yellow Cattle.
The MBY breeding program was commenced during the Sino-Australian project life, which has been continued as a key technology program listed in the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Five Years Rolling Development Programs of Yunnan province till present. The excellent performance of MBY breed has been fixed through years breeding and selection.
Performance improvement of Yunnan Black Goat was conducted by selecting the quality stud goat and controlled mating in the optimized breeding program, which efficiently improved the performance of the flocks and promoted the development of the goat production in the Yunnan.
The first application of cattle embryo transfer technology in Yunnan province was implemented by the center in 1988 with the first calves (a twin calves of a male and a female dairy cattle) successfully born after embryo transferred in the year. At the same time, the embryo transfer technology was applied on Boer, Rubian goat breeds and buffalo for the production demonstration, with which the abundant experiences on control of simultaneous heating, ultra ovulation, embryo producing, frozen embryo storage, in vitro ovulating and in vitro insemination, sex identification, sex control, cloning and embryo segmentation have been achieved from the practical activities.
The pasture research aspect in the center is conducted on species evaluation, pasture resources collection, plant nutrition, pasture establishment, pasture ecology and management, plant analysis, pasture seeds production and demonstration and extension of improved pasture as well as the technology required for pasture establishment in the different zones. More than 800 cultivars or germ plasmas covering 94 species and 53 families were introduced from 18 countries of regions outside of China for the experiments in 21 trail sites with over 2000 trail plots in total located in the different climate from temperate, subtropical to tropical zone in Yunnan province for evaluation and selection of the adaptability, productivity and grazing persistence. After the experiments conducted, 48 cultivars of the best competitive, adaptable and tolerant to disease and grazing have been found together with 6 species mixture combinations. Later 5 pasture species out of the 48 were registered in China as the national pasture species, significantly contributing to the pasture improvement and establishment in Yunnan.
Meanwhile, the center has successively completed more than ten the international cooperative research projects and projects designated by the Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan Province, which has technically provided a solid foundation for pasture establishment and management in Yunnan . The list below are some of the projects finished： ____“Comprehensive Control and Utilization of Eupatorium”
____“Research on the Key Technology in Introduction and Establishment of Annual Quality Pasture”
____“Research on Species Evaluation and Planting Techniques under Different Ecology Zone in Yunnan”
____“Research on Turf Species Introduction in Yunnan and Guizhou Plateau”
____“Research on Yunnan Native Pasture Resources Collecting, Storing, Evaluating and Utilizing”
____“Quality Pasture Species Introduction, Breeding and Extension”
____“Research and Application on Techniques of Comprehensive Control on Eupatorium”
The pasture research projects on going in the center at present, only to name a few, are as following：
____“Demonstration and Industrialized Production of Quality Pasture Seeds with Yunnan Special”supported by the Ministry of Science & Technology of China Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan Province
____“Research on Characters of Dehong Pennisetum alopecuroides and Its Planting Techniques”supported by the Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan Province
____“Research on Flowering and Seeding Characters of Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. ex Chiov. cv. Whittet and Its Seed Threshing Techniques” supported by the Bureau of Science & Technology of Yunnan Province
With the great concerns and support from the provincial government, it was available that 87 Murray Grays and 130 Brahmans were imported from Australia and over 800 pasture cultivars and germ plasmas were introduced from all over the world. Through over twenty years’ experiment and research activities, the center owns the most resources of tropical pasture species in China. The Brahman herd in the center has become the largest and the only pure breed herd in China. It also trained a strong technical team from more than twenty years research effort with remarkable achievements made. The MBY beef bred by the center is the only one new tropical beef breed in China available for stud animal semen for any livestock improvement tropical and subtropical zones, making a great contribution to livestock industry in Yunnan and southern China in the same climate as well.
1. Beef Breeding
1.1 BMY Breed
Since 1984, the center has been devoted itself to the tropical beef breeding program which is conducted by crossbreeding among three breeds of Murray Gray, Brahman and native Yunnan Yellow cattle. More than ten crossbreed combinations were selected out from the program, of which the Murray Gray and Yunnan Yellow crossbreeding (MY), Brahman and Yunnan Yellow crossbreeding (BY) and Murray Gray, Brahman and Yunnan Yellow crossbreeding (MBY) had good performance on tick and heat resistance, body weight gain and precocity, especially with the MBY crossbreeding performed the best in all aspects. Through the long-term research aimed at the characteristic of BMY, especially the projects carried in the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Five Year Rolling Program till now, the development on the breeding of BMY as a new breed has greatly achieved.
BMY breed performs high tick resistance as Brahman, high reproductive as Murray Gray and good adaptability as Yunnan Yellow with ideal body shape and black or brown colour usually seen.
BMY breed also performs well in quick growth, precocity and fattening, especially at early fattening. The body weight of BMY breed reaches over 360kg at age of 12 months, over 480kg at age of 18 months and over 650kg at age of 24 months.
The meat performance of BMY breed is quit significant. The dressing rate of BMY breed approaches 58.8 % with the rate of boneless meat up to 47.6 % at age of 12 months, 59.51 % with 48.07% and 61% with 49.7% in that of dressing and boneless meat rate at age of 18 months and 24 months respectively. The quality beef produced from BMY breed is about 60.99%, making the breed shared high quality beef producer.
With shining skin, tick and heat resistance and good adaptability to the environment, BMY breed performs well through the critical tick infecting period in hot summer and the same in snowy cold winter.
The performance of BMY breed in the actual production is quite promising. With the successful experience obtained abroad that crossbreed bull can be used as stud bull, there are a lot of efficient results achieved by using BMY breed bull for the livestock production. Only in the period of the Tenth Five Years Rolling Development, 608 BMY bulls have been provided for the livestock improvement in Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Henan provinces, speeding up the conversion of research achievements into the practical production.
Brahman is new beef cattle bred from four types of Indian Zebus with some pure British breeds by the breeding experts in the United States. It is characterized by its large drooping ears, skin and hump on the shoulder with gray and brown colour usually seen. The body weight of Brahman is about 780 to 1060kg of adult bull, 500 to 600 kg of adult cow and 27 to 29kg of birth weight. Though the birth weight of Brahman is not heavy, the lactating ability of the cow is sufficient to ensure the high survival and later growth of the calves, resulting in quite high weaning weight of calves. The meat producing performance of Brahman is exllent with the dressing rate coming up to 60% and the rate of the boneless meat up to 53% normally.
The life of reproductive of Brahman is 50% longer than that of most European cattle breeds, which can produce 50 to 60 % more calves than that of European in whole life. This economical performance is a valuable genetic as beef cattle.
Brahman now is broadly distributed in about 60 countries in the world and extensively used for breeding and crossbreeding improvement. The beef breeds containing Brahman blood are those like Santa Gertrudis， Droughtmaster，Braford，Brangus，Sinbrahm，Cherbrahm, Simbrahm ect. The successful breeding of the above breeds has not only brought the prosperous of the beef industry in the United States but push forward the beef industry in the world.
The center introduced 87 Murray Grays in 1984 , Brahman semen in 1988 and 130 Brahmans from Australia in 1993 and 1998 separately, all of which facilitated strongly for the breeding of BMY breed in Yunnan.
2. Pasture Research
Five pasture species have been registered in China as national pasture species from the center.
2.1 Brachiaria decumbens cv. Basilisk
The species was introduced from Australia in 1983, planted in the tropical and subtropical zone in Yunnan with good performance. After evaluated by China Pasture Evaluation Committee, it has been registered as one of pasture species in China. The species is classified as a perennial pasture of Brachiaria decumbens enduring high temperature and humidity climate, adaptable to the tropical and subtropical area at altitude of 1400 meters with annual rainfall from 500 to 2500mm and annual temperature over 16oC. The plant of the species is 1 to 1.5 meters in height of thickly growth with strong competitive growth, good palatability and rich nutrients. Annual dry matter yield per hectare of the species is 6.5 ton and the seed yield per hectare is 120 to 130kg.
2.2. Setaria sphacelata Stapf cv. Narok
The species was introduced from Australia in 1983, planted in the subtropical zone in Yunnan. With good performance, it is broadly extended over 1500 ha. After evaluated by China Pasture Evaluation Committee, it was registered as one of pasture species in China in December 1997. The species is classified as a perennial pasture of Setaria sphacelata Stapf cv.,enduring warm temperature and humidity climate, adaptable to the subtropical area at altitude less than 2000 meters with annual rainfall from 800 to 2000mm and annual temperature over 13oC. The plant of the species is 1.5 to 2 meters in height of standing growth with low requirement to the soil, good palatability and high feeding value. Annual dry matter yield per hectare of the species is 5 to 20 tons. The species is ideal for mix- sowing with Kenya white clover and Haifa clover. It has been planted on Xiaoshao Beef Farm for twenty years so far.
2.3 Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. ex Chiov. cv. Whittet
The species was introduced from Australia in 1983, performing well in the tropical and temperate zone in Yunnan. After evaluated by China Pasture Evaluation Committee, it was registered as one of pasture species in China in December, 2002. The species is classified as a perennial grass of Pennisetum cv., enduring warm temperature and humidity climate, adaptable to the tropical, subtropical and temperate area in Yunnan. Under the natural growth environment, the plant of the species is about 40 to 50cm in height of creeping stalk growth with good palatability and strong fibrous root deeply rooted into the soil, making it resistant to trampling and a top choice for soil erosion control. Annual dry matter yield per hectare of the species is 6.57 tons. Because of the high nutrient and palatability, it is a quality forage not only for the cattle but also for feeding fish as well.
2.4 Trifolium repens cv. Haifa
The species was introduced from Australia in 1983, performing well in the temperate zone in Yunnan. After evaluated by China Pasture Evaluation Committee, it was registered as one of pasture species in China in December, 2002. The species is classified as a medium sized perennial legume, enduring drought and poor soil with high seeding ability, suitable to grow in warm temperate and subtropical area at altitude from 1400 to 3000 meters with annual rainfall from 650 to 1500mm in Yunnan. The plant of the species is persistent to heavy grazing, growing as a dominant component in pastures over twenty years. Annual dry matter yield per hectare of the species is 3.82 tons and the seed yield per hectare is 560kg. With good palatability, high nutrition and rich mineral contained, it is quality forage for all kinds of livestock.
2.5 Trifolium semipilosum var. glabresecns cv. Safari
The species was introduced from Australia in 1983, performing well in the planting in Yunnan. After evaluated by China Pasture Evaluation Committee, it was registered as one of pasture species in China in December, 2002. The species is classified as a perennial legume, better enduring drought and hot weather than any other clovers, suitable to grow in warm temperature and subtropical area at altitude from 1000 to 2500 meters with annual rainfall from 650 to 1500mm in Yunnan. The plant of the species is characterized by it creeping stem which can regenerate new roots and new stems. Annual dry matter yield per hectare of the species is 3.43 tons and the seed yield per hectare is 164kg. Because of the high nutrient and palatability, it is much valuable forage for the cattle.
When the livestock and pasture research were going on, the center paid much attention to the technology application and extension in accordance with the requirement to speed up the development of livestock industry requested by Yunnan provincial government. The center has initiatively conducted technology extension and demonstration in Simao, Wenshan, Baoshan and Degong prefectures and Nanjian, Yongping, Tengchong and Xuanwei counties in Yunnan for the purpose of solving the practical problems in the livestock and pasture development in those tropical cropping area. As to improve the efficiency of Ag-livestock productivity, the center provided, according to the local conditions, with technology required for pasture species selection, species combination, land treatment, pasture management and utilization of the improved pasture by conducting the field day to guide the work on the spots for those area when the pasture improvement went on there. With the activities carried in the area, it effectively promoted the new techniques adopted by the local farmers for their own livestock production, making it possible that farmer could gain more cash income by means of livestock activities, which in return would accelerate the whole livestock development in Yunnan.
On the extension of pasture research, the center extended 48 species and six species combinations six million mu pasture improvement achieved in many years’ efforts from the species evaluation and selection. The center demonstrated and extended the techniques of less cultivation sowing and direct sowing for pasture establishment, which brought down dramatically the cost of pasture establishment. Having cooperated with foreign partner, the center first successfully started the pasture product development in the province to shoot the feed shortage in Winter and early Spring season, especially for dairy cattle, gradually turning the pasture product the supporting industry for the development of livestock and making the feed for the livestock development evenly supplied.
Concerning of livestock improvement, the center was dedicated on new breed breeding, new breed extension and application. In order to solve the problems poor growth and performance of the beef cattle in southern Yunnan, the center, together with the joint effort put by other relevant departments in the province, firstly went through the investigation on present economical status of practical livestock production to find out what would be the key factors in restricting the livestock development in the local area. Then, the breeding improvement was followed as a major program with technical treatment suggestions provided to the cattle breeding demonstration site, which was followed up for the further information feed-back as it was usually done to support the farmers in the developed countries outside. The price of crossbreeding cattle produced from the program is three or four times higher than the native one and the growth period of the crossbreeding cattle is much shorter compared that of the native one. As a result, it significantly increases the profit for the livestock breeding farmers. This successful experience is highly appraised by the experts both from domestic and abroad.
There is a historical transform in the new development of buffalo in China from traditionally meat and draft purpose to the meat and milk. Meeting the requirement of the new development on buffalos, the center conducted the buffalo improvement by introducing Indian Morlar buffalo and Pakistani Luffy buffalo into the native ones. The progeny of the crossbreeding is only with large in body size, high performance for meat producing but also with high lactation, making the new use of buffalo available. Through the extension of penned goat feeding conducted by the center, the problems of environment caused by traditional goat grazing was settled, which increased the benefit of goat raising and protected the environment at the same time.
Many research results achieved by the center have been converted into the practical production such as the techniques for on-ground silage making extended is broadly accepted by the farmers because it sharply reduces the cost of silage making in the rural area and the techniques of planting pasture on the interval cropping field extended makes sufficient use of land resources, especially the Winter interval cropping field, which brings down the production costs and performs as a promising industry for legume hay product development in Yunnan to serve the balanced forage supply in Yunnan as well.
Viewing on future
To sum up what has been achieved, the center has devoted to the research on the livestock and pasture development and technology extension with great achievements made in pasture, beef, goat and dairy buffalo, contributing its speciality to the livestock industry development in Yunnan. Viewing on the future, the center will continuously strengthen the infrastructure construction and strengthen the international technology cooperation through widening the field for the cooperation. It will be great honour to work together with the scientists and experts both domestic and abroad in research on the aspects like tropical and subtropical beef breeding, tropical pasture species and resources collection, selection and breeding, embryo transfer on cattle and goat, embryo segmentation, sex controlled embryo production and animal nutrition etc. The center will continuously make its contribution to the livestock industry development in China, especially in the tropical zone in China.