Animal identification is the basis for keeping accurate production records of the herd/flock as important as animal management. Accurate records provide the farmer with enough information to make individual or whole herd/flock management decisions. Identification helps claiming insurance and other benefits in case of the death of the animal. In Indian context, with large number of animals, many of the breeds of domesticated species are yet to get a distinct identity.
Traditional animal identification methods such as ear notching or methods like radio frequency IDs are not able to provide accurate and secure animal identification due to possibilities of damage, theft, falsification and duplication especially for small animals like pigs and goats with highly scattered distribution of ownership in very small herds. These animals are extremely valuable for the livelihood and nutritional security in the North Eastern India. Also any method used to apply a marker to an animal entails some degree of stress and tissue damage. There is demand of a method which would identify the individual animals reliably and permanently with no adverse effects even in remote scattered herd.
Biometric methods which are non-invasive, economical and not amenable to any change are ideal for these needs. In the present proposed project, unique morphological trait(s) most suitable biometric markers will be identified in pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) and goats (Capra circus). Some leads are available in animals like rabbits. Necessary algorithms will be developed for unique identification. A database will be established for storing and quick retrieval of the images on a regional basis for use by all relevant agencies.
There are quite a few goat and pig population groups in the NE India with unique features and which represent our unique genetic wealth but have been not properly identified, described and documented and so is highly vulnerable to loss of claims of right, lack efforts for conservation and use in genetic improvement. There are so far, only two officially described and accepted breeds each of pig (Ghungroo and Niang Megha) and goat (Black Bengal and Assam hill goat) in the Eastern and North Eastern Region of India. This project will develop image based morphometric database these animal groups and with suitable algorithms classify into hierarchical groups up to the level of breeds and these will be authenticated by DNA markers. It is expected to develop tools for image based real time map of the indigenous goats and pigs, their distribution, emergence, diversity and migration patterns.
Creation of image of based warning systems for diseases with visible external symptoms and/or behavioural for timely clinical intervention at the farmers’ level in remote and difficult to approach regions will also be attempted in this project. This will be a very useful tool in veterinary public health management system.
The individual animal identification methods for animals will be useful in census and accurate documentation of livestock wealth for planning, protection and implementation of various schemes.