Now, skewed sex ratio hits cattle Charu Chhibber Tribune News Service Ludhiana, October 2 Those who think the problem of a skewed sex ratio is limited to humans only, think again! The problem is as grave among cattle. In fact, more so if one goes by figures. And, the situation surely is alarming in Punjab. The only difference is that while among humans the number of females is on the decline, among animals it is the other way round. Female cows and buffaloes are given preference over males because of their ability to produce milk and progeny, while large-scale mechanisation in the farm sector and scientific methods of breeding have rendered male animals redundant. This has led to a drastic fall in the number of male cattle and buffaloes in the state over the last few years. The problem of a skewed sex ratio among cows and buffaloes is known to have persisted since a long time. But, a startling fact that has come to light is that dairy farmers are in the state are increasingly resorting to killing the male calves. Starving them by denying their share of the mother’s milk and a healthy diet, the dairy farmers manage to “get rid of the unwanted animals which are nothing but a burden on their resources,” disclosed Dr AK Jain, senior dairy scientist, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU). Dr Jain further said the figures of male animal versus female in the state were shocking. “During a survey done in the year 2007, there were 17.61 lakh cows in Punjab. Out of which 13.37 lakh were females and just 4.24 lakh males; thus, a sex ratio of 3:1,” he disclosed. The situation is worse among buffaloes. As the easiest option available to dairy farmers is to send the male buffaloes, even few days’ old calves, to slaughter houses to get rid of them. Out of the total 50.01 lakh buffaloes in the state in 2007, 45.19 lakh were females while the number of male buffaloes in the state was a paltry 4.82 lakh in 2007, revealed Dr Jain. The sex ratio of buffaloes in Punjab is 9:1. “The situation has only worsened over the last two years. Everyday scores of male animals are killed by dairy farmers not only across the state but all over the country,” he remarked. Meanwhile, Dr Sandeep Jain, member, Animal Welfare Board of India, said the authorities were aware of the goings-on but in the absence of any formal complaints, no action can be initiated against the erring individuals. “However, the accused can be booked under Section 429 of the IPC and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960,” he said.