Bali Cows and Java Bulls Spawn New Calves

PRIGEN

Scientists are celebrating after successfully cross-breeding the domesticated Bali cow with the wild Java banteng.

The indigenous Bali cow is genetically close to its wild counterparts, which while extinct in Bali itself still survive in several national parks in neighbouring Java.

The breeding experiment was conducted at the Taman Safari conservation park south of Surabaya in East Java.

The first success came last week with the birth of a 21 kilo calf. Scientists believe that an input of wild banteng blood will improve the quality of Bali cattle.

Taman Safari manager Tommy Sands Wungkar said that last week’s birth was the first success from attempts to mate 10 domestic Bali cows with a wild banteng bull from the remote Baluran National Park at the northeast tip of Java. More calves are due to be born in coming months, he said.

Ivan Chandra, animal curator at the park, said that concerns have been raised in recent years about the decline in quality of Bali cows, generally regarded as some of Indonesia’s best indigenous cattle, due to inbreeding, with individual animals getting smaller and producing lower quality milk and meat.

“Genetically, the Bali cow is related to the Java banteng, but throughout several decades of domestication, its size and weight have continued to decrease as a result of inbreeding,” he said, adding that the new cross-breeds would likely be much bigger and more productive.

Chandra said that it was also hoped that the half-wild crossbreeds would be immune to viruses that have affected herds in Bali in recent years.

“They’ll have all the advantages of the Bali cow, but with the immunity from disease of the Java banteng,” he said.

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