Holy Cows


The Amritmahal breed is found in Hassan, Chikmagalur, and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka state in southern India. It is a famous draught breed known for its power and endurance. Animals are fiery and active. Bullocks are especially suited for trotting and quick transportation. Cows are poor milkers. Between 1572 and 1636 AD the rulers of Mysore reared these cattle to supply milk and milk products to the palace, and to produce bullocks for movement of army equipment. These cattle consisted of three distinct strains: Hallikar, Hagalvadi, and Chitaldoorg. Amritmahals are gray cattle but their shade varies from almost white to nearly black. In some animals, white gray markings are present on face and dewlap. Muzzle, face and tail switch are usually black but in older animals, the colour looks lighter. Cows are white, bullocks slightly white and bulls dark, rusty white and even interlace to some extent. Typical characteristics of this breed are head shape and horns. Head Amritmahal calf is long and tapering towards the muzzle. The forehead is narrow, bulging out with a furrow in the middle. Horns are long and emerge from the top of the poll fairly close together in backward and upward direction, turn in and end in sharp black points. Sometimes the long, sharp points touch each other and appear like torch light. Eyes are bright. Ears are small, horizontal and taper to a point. Hump is well developed and is carried slightly forward. The dewlap is fine and does not extend very far. Sheath and navel flap are very small and close to the body. Legs are medium in length and well proportioned. Hooves are hard, close together and small. Skin is thin, smooth, tight and jet black with short glossy hair. The udder is small and compact with hard and small teats. An adult male weighs around 500 kg and female around 318 kg. Age at first calving is 1,337.6±115.52 days and milk yield is 572±24 kg. Calving interval is 577.6±24.32 days and lactation length 299± 10 days.


This breed was found in Sitamari and some parts of Madhubani, Darbhanga, Samastipur and Muzaffarpur districts of Bihar but a recent survey has revealed that the original breeding tract has shrunken and the Bachaur cattle are now concentrated in the areas adjoining Nepal border comprising Bachaur and Koilpur subdivisions of Sitamarhi district. It is known for its draught qualities and ability to thrive on poor fodder resources. This breed has very close similarity to the Hariana breed. The cattle are of gray colour, compact with a straight back, well-rounded barrel, and short neck. The face is short, forehead broad and flat or slightly convex. The poll is almost absent, prominent eyes and medium sized horns. Legs are short and thin, medium sized dewlap, short and thick tail and small udder. Tail switch is either black or white. Cows are poor milker and produce around 540 kg of milk (range 495 to 605 kg) in a lactation of around 254 days. Bullocks can work about 8 hours without any break.


Bargur is a draught breed found around Bargur hills in Bhavani taluk of Erode district of TamilNadu and is bred extensively by Lingaiys and Lambadis of that area. This area was earlier a part of Cairn bat are a district. Animals are of Mysore-type, but smaller and more compact. They are very restive and fiery in disposition and are difficult to train. They are light in built and are developed mainly for carrying out agricultural operations in the uneven and hilly terrain. Cattle of this breed are unsurpassed in speed and endurance in trotting. Bargur cattle are of brown colour with white markings. Some white or dark brown animals are also seen. Calves are generally brown in colour. Colour does not change with age as in Kangayam and Umblachery breeds. Animals are well built, compact and medium in size. Head is brownish, well shaped, long and tapering towards the muzzle. The forehead is slightly prominent and has a deep furrow between the roots of horns. The muzzle is moderate and black in colour. Eyes are prominent and bright. Ears are moderately long and erect. Horns are of light brown colour, moderate length, closer at the roots, inclining backward, outward and upward with a forward curve and sharp at the tip. The neck is fairly long and thin. Hump is moderately developed in females and well developed in males. The dewlap is thin and short extending up to sternum only. Navel flap is present in many animals. A sheath is tucked up. These cattle have thin and bony limbs. Thighs are well developed. Hindquarters are well developed and slightly dropping. Cows have small udders applied close to the body. Teats are small and well set apart. Cows are poor milker, and produce 250 to 1, 300 kg of milk in a lactation period of 270 to 310 days.


Dangi is a draught breed found in a small area of Nasik and Ahmednagar districts in Maharashtra state including an area in the Western Ghats known as Dangs from which the breed takes its name. They are well known for their excellent working qualities in heavy rainfall areas, rice fields, and hilly tracts. Dangi breeders are semi-nomadic. They belong to Kandadi, Mahadeo Koli, Thakar, and Maratha communities, who practice seasonal migration and remain away from their villages for about 9 months in a year (January to September). During the hot and dry season, the breeders migrate towards coastal areas where grass, tree fodder and water are available to some extent. During the period of heavy rainfall, they settle down at the foothills for protection from the cold draught. Dangi cattle have distinct white coat colour with red or black spots distributed unevenly over the body. Animals are medium in size with deep bodies. Head is usually small with a slightly protruding forehead. The muzzle is large. Horns are short and thick. Ears are small. The dewlap is slightly pendulous. Hump is firm and medium in size. Hoovers are black, flint-like and exceptionally hardy. Skin exudes an oily secretion which protects the animals from heavy rain. Milk yield averages 530 kg (range 32 to 1,228 kg) in an average lactation period of 269 days (range 100 to 396 days). Average fat in milk is 4.3%.


Deoni is an important dual-purpose breed of cattle in Maharashtra. These animals are mainly found in the Latur district and the adjoining area of Prabhani, Nanded and Osmanabad districts of the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. The name of the breed is derived from Deoni Taluk of the Latur district. Deoni is a medium heavy animal. It is found in three colour variations viz. Wannera (clear white with black colour at the sides of the face), Balankya (clear white with black spots on the lower side of the body) and Shevera (white body with irregular black spots). The body is moderately developed and symmetrical with distinct muscles. The colour of the head is black and white in Wannera and Shevera and completely white in the Balankya strain. The forehead is prominent, broad, slightly bulged and white in all the strains; ears are long and drooping with slightly curved tips; horns are medium, thick, apart and emerge from the sides of the poles; tips of the horns are blunt; and eyes are prominent, bright and alert with black eyebrows. The neck is short, strong and well developed. The dewlap is thick, pendulous, and muscular with folds. It is more pendulous in males than in females. The tail is long reaching below the hock with a black and white switch. The udder is well attached and medium in .size with squarely placed black teats. The animals are docile and calm. Deshpande and Singh (1977A) observed lactation milk yield in Deoni herds ranging from 800 to 1000 kg. Sontakke et al. (1978) reported the average fat percent of 4.29 in 100 samples of Deoni cow milk.


Thin breed is found coastal areas of Ganga, normally Bihar and Varanasi. This is dual purpose breed developed from hariana cattle-breed 10-12 years back, this was on the verge of extinction with the efforts of local people and "Surabhi Shodh Sansthan" this could be perfected and developed. Normally found in white colour. The hump of bulls and bullocks in quite long, brownish in colour near the neck. 10-15 liters of milk - yield per day. Eyes black, face nardo. Horns are short and antenna like. Tail long with back hairs.


The Gaolao is a dual-purpose breed reared for draught (mainly fast transportation) and milk production. This breed is found in Wardha district of Maharashtra; and Balaghat, Chhindwara, Durg, Rajnandgaon and Seoni districts of Madhya Pradesh. There is a close similarity between the Ongole and the Gaolao except that the latter is much lighter with greater agility. Herd size is normally 6 to 8 but some farmers have large herds. Animals are grazed in the grasslands preserved by the forest department. Grazing is usually available from middle of July to the end of October. Sorghum is the principal crop of the area. Grains are used for human consumption while the stover is fed to cattle. Cows and young stock are usually undernourished but bullocks and young male calves ready for sale are well fed. Cottonseed, linseed or groundnut is given as concentrates. Bullocks are particularly trained to run fast. Gaolao animals are white or light gray. Males are generally gray over the neck, hump and quarters, medium-sized, lightly built, narrow and long. Head is markedly long and narrow usually tapering towards the muzzle. The forehead is usually flat, though it appears to recede at the top, giving a slightly convex appearance. Eyes are almond shaped and placed slightly at angles. Ears are of medium size and carried high. Horns are short and stumpy, blunt at the points and curve slightly backward. Hump is well developed, loose and hangs on one side. The dewlap is voluminous but the sheath is moderately developed. The tail is short, reaching just below hocks. Average body weight is around 430 kg in males and 340 kg in females. Average age at first calving is around 1,300 days. Milk production is about 600 kg (range 470 to 725 kg) in a lactation of about 240 days. Fat is about 5.5%. Average service period is around 93 days and calving interval around 387 days.


The Gir is a famous milk cattle breed of India. The native tract of the breed is Gir hills and forests of Kathiawar including Junagarh, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Amreli districts of Gujarat. The Gir animals are famous for their tolerance to stress conditions and resistance to various tropical diseases. Bullocks of this breed are used to drag heavy loads on all kinds of soil. Brazil, Mexico, USA, and Venezuela have imported these animals where they are being bred successfully. These animals contribute significantly to the total milk production of Gujarat State. The Rabaris, Bharwads, Maldharis, Ahirs and Charans tribes are mainly involved in Rearing of Gir cattle. They move with their cattle from one place to another in search of grazing. The Gir animals are also kept at different Gaushalas (cow barns) in Gujarat State. The coat colour of Gir animals varies from shades of red and white to almost black and white or entire red. Skin colour is dominantly black but in a few animals, it is brown. The forehead is prominent, convex and broad like a bony shield. This overhangs eyes in such a way that they appear to be partially closed and the animal shows sloppy appearance. Ears are long and pendulous and folded like a leaf with a notch at the tip. Horns are curved turning back at the tip. They orient downwards and backward from the base and incline a little upwards and forwards. The tail is long and whip-like, hooves are black and medium-sized, hair is short and glossy, skin is loose and pliable, hipbones are prominent, the body is well proportioned, the udder in cows is well developed and teat tips are round. Heifers received a lesser number of artificial inseminations for successful conception than cows. Singh etal. (1981) observed age at first calving in Gir cows as 52.49 months. Ulmek and Patel (1993a) reported average lactation and 300 days milk yield in 378 Gir cows as 1775 and 1449 kg, respectively.


Hallikar cattle is typical Mysore type of cattle found mainly in Mysore, Mandya, Bangalore, Kolar, Tumkur, Hassan and Chitradurga district of Karnataka. It is one of the best draught breeds of southern India. In the entire tract, bullocks are given special attention. The price of each bullock ranges from Rs. 5,500 to Rs 10,000. This is probably the only consideration for personal attention in the feeding and management of the males. Females are being used for all kinds of farm operations. They can also work in waterlogged fields and contribute to the farming system. The color is gray to dark gray with deep shading on the fore and hind quarters. Frequently, there is light gray marking on the face, dewlap and under the body. Hallikar cattle are medium sized, compact and muscular in appearance. The forehead is prominent giving a slight bulgy appearance and is furrowed in the middle. The face is long and tapers towards the muzzle, which is usually gray to black. Horns emerge near each other from the top of the poll and are carried backward, each in a straight line for nearly half their length and then with a gentle and graceful sweep bend forward and slightly inward toward the tips which are black and sharp. Horns almost touch the neck in front of the hump when the animal is feeding with its head downward. Eyes are small and clear. Ears are small tapering to a point. The dewlap is thin and moderately developed. The sheath is very small and is tucked up with the body. The tail is fine with a black switch which reaches little below hocks. Age at first calving ranges from 915 to 1,800 days with an average of about 1,370 days. Lactation milk yield is around 540 kg ranging from 227 to 1,134 kg. Lactation length ranges from 210 to 310 days averaging of about 285 days. Fat is about 5.7%. Average calving interval is 598.9±27.36days.


Haryana, a prominent dual-purpose breed of northern India, was primarily reared for bullock production. Its breeding tract encompasses large parts of Rohtak, Hisar, Jind and Gurgaon districts of Haryana. These animals are also reared in Jodhpur, Alwar, Loharu and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan. Meerut, Bulandshahar and Aligarh districts of western Uttar Pradesh also have a sizable population of this breed. This is one of the most widely spread breeds in the Indo- Gangetic plains. According to some reports, the purebred Haryana cattle were abundant in Jhajjar, Beri and Jahajgarh pockets of Rohtak district. Haryana animals are white or light gray in colour. In bulls, colour in between fore and hindquarters is relatively dark or dark gray. Skin is black. Haryana cattle have the compact and proportionately built body. They are characterized by a long and narrow face, flat forehead and a well marked bony prominence at the center of the poll. They have small horns. The muzzle is usually black. Eyes are large and prominent. Typical animals have black eyelashes. Head is carried high and gives them a graceful appearance. Hump is of medium size in cows and large in males. Legs are moderately long and lean with small, hard and well-shaped feet. The sheath is small. The udder is capacious and extends well forward with a well-developed milk-vein. Teats are well developed proportionate and medium sized. The tail is rather short, thin and tapering. There is black switch reaching just below hocks. A coat colour other than white or gray, as well as white switch oftail, is considered a marked deviation from the typical attributes and a disqualification from the standpoint of breed registration. Adult body weight is around 499 and 325 kg in males and females respectively. Age at first calving ranges from 1,067 to 1,809 days with an average of 1,567 days. Average milk yield is around 997 kg with a range of 692 to 1,754 kg. Lactation length is about 272 days ranging from 238 to 330 days. Average service period is 232 days (range 126 to 305 days), dry period 255 days (range 133 to 571 days) and calving interval 483 days (range 415 to 561 days).


Kangayam is a draught breed of cattle and distributed in Kangayam, Dharapuram, Perundurai, Erode, Bhavani and part of Gobichettipalayam taluks of Erode district, Dindigul, Karur and Coimbatore district. On the other hand, replacement of Kangayam cattle by exotic crosses is high in Udumalpet, Pollachi, Palladam and Tirupur taluks of Coimbatore, and Erode district. This breed is most closely related to the Umblachery breed of cattle. Kangayam animals are well built and heavier than Umblachery cattle and are found in a drier climate, whereas Umblachery is found in the hot humid tract. Kangayam cattle are maintained under the semi-intensive system of management. They are traditionally reared on grazing in dry lands kept as pasture land by farmers for cattle and sheep in the breeding tract. The coat is red at birth, but changes to gray at about 6 months of age. Bulls are gray with a dark colour in the hump, fore and hindquarters, face, and legs. Bullocks are gray. Cows are gray or white and gray. However, animals with red, black, fawn and broken colour are also observed. Such animals comprise approximately 1 to 2 % of the total population. Horns, muzzle, eyelids, tail switch, and hooves are black. Skin is also black. Animals are strong and active with the compact body. Legs are short and stout with strong hooves. Bullocks are capable for carting with load on a sunny cloudless summer day with an ambient temperature of 30 to 35 degree Celsius. Milk yield ranges from 600 to 800 Kg with an average of about 540 Kg in a lactation of about 270 days. Average fat and SNF is 3.88 + 0.07 and 6.96 + 0.05 % respectively.


Kankrej cattle have had the important impact on U.S. cattle breeding. Kankrej cattle are gray cattle of northern India and have long lyre shaped horns. They are among the largest cattle of India and are prized as powerful draft animals and are moderate milk producers. Having short broad faces with long ears drooping and open to the front. Color varies from light gray to black at maturity. The barrel is generally lighter in color than the rest of the body, especially in bulls. Bulls tend to get darker than cows or steers. Kankrej cattle are maintained as a pure breed in India and Brazil in large numbers, with a few in the U. S. The Kankrej was the most important breed in the formation of the American Brahman. A literature review of these and other Indian breeds in India, Brazil, Mexico and the U. S., would indicate production characteristics similar to the American Brahman and other Bos indicus breeds with lower birth weights in purebreds than Bos taurus breeds. Like all Bos indicus breeds the Kankrej adds environmental adaptability to tropical and subtropical conditions, insect tolerance and some disease resistance, longevity, and maternal ability, especially in crosses with Bos taurus breeds. The cattle are gentle without a disposition problem and are fertile under adverse conditions. The gait of Kankrej is peculiar to the breed, the action is smooth, and there is hardly any movement of the body. The gait is called one-fourth pace (sawai chal) by the breeder. Average milk yield is around 1,746 kg (range 1,097 to 3,194 kg). Lactation length averages 294 days (range 257 to 350 days), calving interval is around 490 days, and fat is around 4.8% (range 4.66 to 4.99%).


The Kenkatha cattle take their name from the River Ken, for they are bred along the banks of this small river in the area of Bundelkhand comprising Lalitpur, Hamirpur, and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh, and Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh. This breed is similar to the Malvi breed. The Kenkatha cattle are small, sturdy and fairly powerful, varying in colour from gray on the barrel to dark gray on the rest of the body. Head is short and broad. The forehead is dished. Horns emerge from the outer angles of the poll in a markedly forward direction and terminate in sharp points. Ears are sharply pointed and do not droop. The body is short, deep and compact. Hump is well-developed. The sheath is somewhat pendulous and ends with a black tip. The dewlap is moderately heavy. Tail grows beyond hocks.


Kherigarh breed is closely allied to the Malvi breed. This breed is mostly found in the Lakhimpur-Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh, but some animals are also found in the adjoining Piliphit district. This breed has been named after the area. The local people, however, do not know anything about its name and just call it as desi. The population of Kherigarh breed has decreased considerably over the last few years because of large-scale deforestation for crop production. The grazing areas are now restricted to roadsides and canal banks only. Kherigarh cattle have white coat colour. Some animals have gray colour distributed all over the body especially on the face. They gray colour might have appeared due to interbreeding among different breeds.These are small-sized, very active animals, reared mainly for draught purpose. The face is small. The forehead is flat and broad. Eyes are large, bulging and bright. Horns are medium (about 15 cm) and upstanding, curving outward and upward. These are thick at the base. Horn formation is typical of the lyre-horned Malvi type. Animals of this breed are much lighter in general appearance than the Malvis. Ears are small and horizontal. The muzzle is black. Neck is short. Hump is small in females and medium sized in males. The dewlap is thin and pendulous, starts from right under the chin and continues up to brisket. Legs are light and straight. Hooves are small and black. The tail is long almost touching the ground and ending in a black switch. The udder is small and tightly attached with the body. Teats are small and cylindrical. Skin is slightly loose and black. Bullocks are very good for draught purposes. They run very fast. Cows are poor milkers. They produce about 1 to 1.5 liters of milk in a day for about one year. A weekly animal fair is held at Dhubagha, Lakhimpur - Kheri for the trade of only male animals.


Khillari breed of cattle is known for quick draught capabilities of its bullocks. This breed is found in Kolhapur, Solapur, Sangli and Satara districts of Maharastra and Belgaum, Bijapur and Dharwad districts of Karnataka. This breed is seemed to have originated from Hallikar or Amrithmahal breed of cattle. A typical Khillar animal is compact and tight skinned, with clean cut features. Appearance is like a compact cylinder with stout, strongly set limbs. There is a slight rise in the level of back toward the hook bones. A groove runs in the center of the forehead from the nasal bridge to of the poll. Face is lean and long with smooth, tightly drawn skin. The ear is small, pointed and always held sideways. Horns are long and pointed. The dewlap is light with very few folds. The hump in male is firm and moderate size. Khillar bullocks are highly valued as fast powerful draught cattle, for they can travel miles without showing any sign of fatigue. Cattle of this breed are exported to North - western Shri Lanka to improve draught qualities of Sinhala breed. The cow producing average milk of 384 kg (range 240 to 515 kg).


KrishnaValley is the draught breed of cattle, braving extreme hot, humid climatic conditions and is able to work well in the black cotton soil in the valleys of Krishna river in Karnataka state in India. It was reported that the Kings of Southern Mahratta country, which lived in the watershed areas of the rivers (Krishna, Ghataprabha and Malaprabha), tried to evolve a powerful bullock for agricultural purposes in the sticky black cotton soil during the last two decades of the nineteenth century (Joshi and Phillips 1953). It was claimed that Gir and possibly Kankrej cattle from Gujarat state, Ongole cattle from Andhra Pradesh state and local cattle having Mysore-type blood were used to evolve the Krishna Valley breed. The king of Sangli, a well-known breeder of Krishna Valley, contributed substantially in making judicious use of all these strains to produce the desired type of animal. At present, only a few hundred animals of true to type are available in and around few villages of Jamkhandi, Mudhol and Athani taluks of northern parts of Karnataka. The reasons for the decline in number are selling of animals of Krishna Valley due to continuous drought in the tract and preference of the farmers for Khillari breed which is more attractive and massive in appearance resulted in a lack of Krishna Valley Breeding bulls. The first step towards conservation of livestock genetic resources is the genetic characterization with respect to phenotypic parameters, unique qualities, and utility. Subsequently finding out the genetic architecture through molecular means and evolutionary relationship with other related breeds would provide valuable information about the breed for taking up conservation measures. The physical Characterization had already been done by Ramesha et al. (2001) in the native tract. Considering these facts, the present study has been carried out to characterize the Krishna Valley breed of cattle using the molecular marker, such as microsatellites.


Red Kandhari breed of cattle in purest form is found in Kandhar, Mukhed, Nanded and Biloli tehsils of Nanded district; some pockets of other districts like Ahmadpur; Parli and Hingoli tehsils of Latur district; and Bid and Parbhani districts of Marathwada region. In Kandhar tehsil the Red Kandhari breed of cattle is more common. It is said that this breed was taken up by the royal dynasty of King Somadevraya as far back as 4th Century A.D. Raja Somdeorai was the son of Raja Kanhar and ruled over Kandhar. The name Red Kandhari appears to be the corrupt name from Raja Kanhar. This cattle breed having red colour also naturally acquires the name Red Kandhari. The breed could have been named by Raja Somdeorai in memory of his father as Red Kanhari, now misnomered as Red Kandhari. Red Kandhari breed supplies bullock power to northern part of Marathwada. In markets like Parbhani and Puna in Parbhani district, and Loha Kundalwadi and Naigaon in Nanded district facilities are available for sale and purchase of these animals. In the last two named markets, bulls and cows of the pure breed are available for the breeding purpose. Red Kandhari is a medium-sized, strong and robust animal. The body is compact, squarely built, but not massive, with well-proportionate limbs. The colour is uniform deep dark- red, but variations from a dull red to almost dark brown are found. Bulls are darker than cows. Forehead is broad between eyes and is slightly bulging. Bullocks are used for heavy work. Average lactation yield is 597.6±18.32 kg in a lactation period of 259.8±4.26 days. Average fat content in milk is 4.57±0.03% and SNF content 8.62±0.01%.


This breed is found in Coastal hilly areas of Karnataka namely Mangalore, Shimoga, Kumtha etc. This is small in size like vechura of Kerala and highly suitable and versatile for hilly areas. Mainly suitable for agriculture highly disease resistant, less diet and nutritious milk is the speciality of this breed. Normally they are found ni brownish black slight yellowish and white colour. Their forehead long and narrow, small horns and long tail normally milk yield is 1 -2 liters per day.


Malvi is primarily a draught breed found in a large area comprising Indore, Dewas, Ujjain, Shajapur, Mandsaur, Ratlam, and Rajgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh, and Jhalawar district of Rajasthan. There are 3 strains of Malvi breed: light, medium and heavy. The Umatware strain bred in Rajgarh and Narsingarh is a heavy type animal; the Sugar strain in the Malwa tract of Madhya Pradesh is a lighter type. In the west adjoining Rajasthan, the breed is larger, while in Madhya Pradesh it is smaller. Malvi bullocks are well known for quick transportation, endurance and ability to carry heavy loads on rough roads. Malvi cattle are gray in males, with neck, shoulders, hump and quarters almost black. Cows are bullocks become nearly pure white with age. Malvi cattle have a short, deep and compact body. Legs are short but powerful, and hooves are strong and black. The dewlap is well developed and the sheath is pendulous. Head is short and broad with the dished forehead. The muzzle is dark and slightly upturned. Horns are strong and pointed and emerge from the outer angles of the poll in an outward and upward direction. Average milk yield is 1,074 kg (range 627 to 1,227 kg). Average lactation length is 306 days (range 411 and 530 days).


Mewati breed of cattle is found in the tract known as Mewat, comprising Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan. These cattle are also found around Mathura and Kosi in western Uttar Pradesh, and Faridabad and Gurgaon districts of Haryana. The breed is sometimes spoken of as Kosi, on account of the sale of a large number of cattle of this breed at the Kosi market. Presently this market has become Buffalo dominated and few cows are being brought for sale. Mewati cattle are similar in type to the Haryana but there are traces of the influence of the Gir, Kankrej and Malvi breeds. Mewati cattle are usually white with neck, shoulders and quarters of a darker shade. The face is long and narrow with forehead slightly bulging. Horns emerge from the outer angles of the poll and are inclined to turn backward at the points. Eyes are prominent and surrounded by a very dark rim. The muzzle is wide and square. The upper lip is thick and overhanging, giving the upper part of the nose a contracted appearance. Ears are pendulous but not so long. Dewlap, though hanging, is not very loose. The sheath also is loose but not pendulous. The tail is long, the tuft nearly reaching the heels. Cows usually have well- developed udders. Mewati cattle are powerful and docile and are useful for heavy plowing and carting.


Nagori is a reputed breed. It is primarily reared for draught quality of its bullocks. It's home tract lies in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan in Western India. A sizable population of the breed is also found in the adjoining Jodhpur district and Nokha tehsil of Bikaner district. The traditional breeding tract covers an area of 17,718 km. Nagori animals are fine, upstanding, very alert and agile, and generally white or light gray. In some cases head, face and shoulder are slightly grayish. Eyelids are white or light gray. Muzzle, hooves, and horns are black. Skin is tight and black. The forehead is flat and not so prominent. The face is long and narrow like that of the horse. Eyelids are heavy and overhanging, whereas eyes are small, clear and bright. Ears are medium in size with pinkish inside. The poll is very small and is almost absent in animals true to the breed. Horns are of medium size emerging from the outer angles of poll. They extend in an outward direction and are carried upwards with a gentle curve to turn in at points. The shoulder blade is prominent. Hump is well developed; back straight; legs long and straight with small, strong and compact hooves. The dewlap is small, fine and buttoned up with the body. Navel sheath is very small, tucked up with the abdomen like a button. The tail is high set and is of moderate length (below hock) ending in a black switch. Cows have a small and shallow udder. Bullocks are big and powerful. They are capable of heavy draught work in deep sands. There is a tendency to legginess and lightness of bone, though feet are strong. This characteristic has given the breed its agility and ease of movement. It runs like a horse. Cows are poor milkers. Average milk yield is 603 kg (range 479 to 905 kg). Average lactation period is 267 days (range 237 to 299 days). The Nagori is mainly a draught breed. It's bullocks are used for transportation and in agricultural operations such as plowing, cultivation and drawing water from well. They are usually broken for light work at about 3 years of age when they weigh around 275 kg. A pair of bullocks cost approximately Rs. 15,000.


Nimari breed is found in Nimar tract of Narmada valley in Madhya Pradesh comprising Khandwa, Khargon and Barwani districts. Some animals are also found in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. Animals are active. Bullocks are known for their draught work but cows are poor milkers. The Nimari breed seems to have originated from a crossing of the Gir and the Khillari. Gir blood has contributed to its coat colour, massive body structure, and convexity of the forehead, and Khillari blood to its hardiness, agility and temper. Khamla found in Satpura ranges of Madhya Pradesh and Khamgoan in Berar are very similar to Nimari and may be its strains. Nimari cattle are red with large splashes of white on various parts of the body. Head is moderately long with a somewhat bulging forehead. It is carried alertly and gives the animal a graceful appearance. Horns usually emerge in a backward direction from the outer angles of the poll, somewhat in the same manner as in Gir cattle, turning upward and outward and finally backward at the points. Occasionally, horns are also like those of Khillaris in size and shape, copper coloured and pointed. Ears are moderately long and wide but are not pendulous. Muzzle in many animals is either copper or amber-coloured. Dewlap and sheath are moderately developed, though the sheath has the tendency to be pendulous. A hump in bulls is well developed and sometimes hangs over. The tail is long and thin with the black switch reaching to the ground. Hooves are strong and can stand rough wear on stony ground. Skin is fine and slightly loose. Cows usually have a well-developed udder. Average milk yield is about 360 kg (range 310 to 495 kg). Average lactation length is 237 days (range 220 and 260 days). Milk fat is around 4.9%.


Ongole is the dual-purpose breeds from the southern part of India. Ongole breed contributed to the development of some of the exotic breeds like 'American Brahman', 'Santa Getrudis' etc. and is used extensively for beef purpose in Latin American countries. It is also called the Nellore breed since the Ongole taluka was earlier included in Nellore district but now it is included in Guntur district. Ongole have a glossy white coat called padakateeru by the breeders. Ongole is large and heavy with a loosely knit frame, great muscularity, and long limbs. They have majestic gait. The forehead is broad between eyes and slightly prominent. Face moderately long and coffin shaped. The hump in males are well developed and erect filled up on both side and not concave or leaning to either side. The dewlap is large fan-shaped, fleshy and slightly pendulous. Farmers identify the Ongole breed with 3 lengths (legs, shoulder and back), 7 shorts (muzzle, ear, neck, dewlap, flank, sheath and tail) and 9 blacks (muzzle, eyes, tip of ear, knees, fetlocks, sheath, switch of tail, anal region and tip of tests). Average milk yield is 688 kg (range 475 to 1,000 kg) in a lactation period of about 230 days (range 160 to 270 days). Average fat is 4.2% (range 4.1 to 4.8%).


The Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh is the breeding tract of Ponwar cattle. The main area is the Puranpur Block in the Pilibhit district comprising Mainakot, Mazara, Bhirkhera,Faizulaganj and Rajpur Semra villages. A few animals of this breed are also found in Lakhimpur-Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh. This breed is also known as Kabri ( a mixture of colours) in the breeding tract. The Ponwar seems to be small hill type breed. Critical examination of the animals reveals that this breed may be a mixture of hill and plain cattle. The landless laborers and marginal farmers mainly keep these animals. The progressive farmer keeps no animal of this breed. Purebred animals are available in the interior area of the breeding tract. The Tharu tribe is mainly involved in rearing pure Ponwar animals. Some animals have also been maintained by Pasi and Yadav communities. The coat color of these animals is brown or black with white patches in varying proportions. The colour of the muzzle, eyelids, and hoofs is generally black. The tail switch is white in black animals and black in those having a greater proportion of white patches. The horns are small to medium and curve inward with pointed tips. The ears are small and erect with a sideways orientation and have pointed tips. The face is small and narrow with a slightly concave forehead, which is narrow and has a white marking. The body is small, compact and non-fleshy. The skin is tight, the dewlap is medium and the hump is small in females and developed in males. The tail is long and reaches to below the hock. Cows have small udders and teats and milk veins are small. The animals of this breed are aggressive.Cows produced little milk about 0.5 to 2.5 kg per day for 8 to 10 (average 8.9±0.1.) months. Lactation milk yield averaged 462.5±12.1 kg. Age at first calving ranged from 40 to 60 months (average 52.2±0.5) and the inter-calving period averaged 12.6±0.1 months. The service period in Ponwar cattle varied from 60 to 100 (average 76.0±1.1) days. The approximate Ponwar population in the entire breeding tract was estimated as 10667 based on the figure available for total cattle population in Puranpur block (49800).


Punganur breed is short-statured cattle found in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. It's home tract is Punganur town of Chittoor district. This breed was developed by Rajahs of Punganur. Hence this breed is known as 'Punganur'. These are reared for milk. There are very few animals left in the breeding tract. This breed is almost on the verge of extinction. These animals were used for agricultural operations on light soils. Punganur cattle are white, gray or light brown to dark brown. White mixed with red or black colour animals are also available. A combination of white with brown or black patches is not uncommon. Skin, muzzle, eyelids and hooves are black. Animals of this breed are compact with comparatively tighter skin, extensive hanging dewlap, short legs, and long body with well-sprung ribs. The forehead is concave and broad. Horns are black, small and crescent-shaped, and often loose curving backward and forward in males and lateral and forward in females. Horns are stumpy in males and slightly longer in females. Horn length ranges from 10 to 15 cm. Forehead is broad and prominent. Hump is of small size in females and medium but inclined to be dropping in males. Bulls are more docile than females. Lactation milk yield is 546.0±30.6 liters (range 194 to 1,099 liters), lactation length 263.4±16.5 days (range 98 to 445 days), and calving interval 452.4±18.7 (range 317 to 832 days). On an average milk of Punganur cows contains 5% fat (range3.11 to 10.0%) and 9.5% SNF (range 7.69 to 10.56%).


The Rathi is an important milch breed of cattle found in the western part of Rajasthan. It takes its name from a pastoral tribe called Raths who are Muslims of Rajput extraction and lead a nomadic life. The home tract lies in the heart of Thar desert and includes Bikaner, Ganganagar and Jaisahner districts of Rajasthan. These animals are particularly concentrated in the Loonkaransar tehsil of Bikaner district which is also known as 'Rathi Tract'. Rathi is a medium sized breed with a symmetrical body. The animal is usually brown with white patches all over the body, but animals having completely brown or black coats with white patches are often encountered. The lower body parts are generally lighter in colour as compared to the rest of the body. The face is broad between eyes and slightly dished. Muzzle and hooves are black. Eyelids are brown or black in colour. Horns are short to medium in size, curving outward, upward and inward. Ears are of medium length, while dewlap is voluminous. Navel flap is large. Hump is of large size in male and sheath pendulous. The tail is long, fine, tapering to a good black switch well below the hock. The udder is well developed with prominent milk-vein. Females are docile and average milkers. Milk yield is 1,560 kg (range 1,062 to 2,810 kg). Average lactation length is 336 days (range 306 to 431 days).


Red Sindhi breed is mostly found in Karachi and Hyderabad districts of Pakistan. Some organized herds of this breed are also found in India in the states of Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Kerala, and Assam.Red Sindhi is considered to have originated from Las Bela cattle found in the state of Las Bela, Baluchisthan. The original herd was established at Malir outside Karachi. Red Sindhi cattle are somewhat similar to Sahiwal and may also be related to Afghan and Gir cattle. Red Sindhi is one of the important dairy cattle breeds in Indian sub-continent. Realizing its potential, the Government of India established Central Cattle Breeding Farm at Chiplima, Orissa on 15.01.1968. Red Sindhi cattle have been exported to Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Sarawak, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in Asia; Tunis, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles and Mauritius in Africa; the United States of America, Brazil and Cuba in the Americas and Australia. This breed has distinctly red colour. Red shades vary from dark red to dim yellow. Though patches of white are seen on dewlap and sometimes on the forehead, no large white patches are present on the body. In bulls, colour is dark on the shoulders and thighs. Hair is soft and short, and skin is loose. Milk production is around 1,840 kg(range 1,100 to 2,600 kg) and lactation length 296 days (range 26010330 days). Fat is around4.5% (range4.0 to 5.2%).


The Sahiwal is one of the best dairy breeds of zebu cattle. Though its original breeding tract lies in Montgomery (now Sahiwal) district of Pakistan, yet some herds are also found in India along the Indo-Pak border in Ferozepur and Amritsar districts of Punjab, and Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. Sahiwal breed, because of its desirable traits, is being utilized widely for improvement of local stock or for initial crossbreeding of the indigenous stock before undertaking to upgrade with European breeds in many warm humid countries of the world. It is known to have been introduced into 17 other countries, besides Pakistan and India. These are Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Brazil, Jamaica, Trinidad, Australia and New Zealand. Coat colour is usually reddish dun but pale red or brown occasionally mixed with white spots is also not uncommon. The Sahiwal is a heavy breed with a symmetrical body and loose skin. Animals are long, deep, fleshy and comparatively lethargic. Horns are short and stumpy. The udder is generally large, bowl-shaped, pliable, and firmly suspended from the body. Average milk yield is 2,326 kg (range 1,600 to 2,750 kg). Average lactation length is 318 days (range 285 to 375 days). Fat is 4.8 to 5.1% (average 4.93%).


The Siri is small sized zebu cattle of hilly region and is found in upper reaches of Darjeeling district in West Bengal and Sikkim Districts in India. There are some related types of Siri cattle. Kachha Siri: This is a Nepal x Siri cross, and is very similar to the Siri, but is distinguished from it by the colour pattern and position of hump and horn. Tarai: This type is found in Nepal and is sometimes referred to as Siri. Animals are either black with white patches or brown with white patches. In some cases, they're totally black or brown. Skin is gray, and muzzle and eyelids are black. Black and white pattern is similar to that of Holstein-Friesian. Tail switch is black or white and hooves are black. The forehead is convex, wedge-shaped with white patches. Horns are of medium size and curved outward, forward, slightly upward and inward with a prominent hairy poll. Ears are of medium size and horizontal. Abdomen and inner part of legs are generally light in colour. The udder is small size with firm attachment. Milk yield is around 2-6 kg/day with lactation length of about 210 to 274 days. The fat content is 2.8 to 5.5 %, SNF 7.56 to 9.37%. A large variation is observed in the performance of Siri animals. The performance can be improved further by proper selection and distribution of Siri in breeding tract.


The name Tharparkar has been derived from the place of its origin - the Thar desert. Home tract of this breed is in the Tharparkar district of southeast Sind in Pakistan, These animals are found along the Indo-Pak border covering western Rajasthan and up to Rannof kutch in Gujarat. Tharparkar is not a homogeneous breed but it has the influence of the Kankrej, Red Sindhi, Gir and Nagori breeds. On the western side of the habitat the influence of the Red Sindhi is prominent and on the north and northeast of the Nagori. In other parts influence of the Kankrej is predominant. A sprinkling of the Gir is also evident. In spite of all the heterogeneity, a medium type breed adapted to the desert conditions has been developed. Animals are white or light gray. Face and extremities are of a darker shade than the body. Hairs are fine, short and straight, but in males, they are slightly curly on the forehead. The forehead is broad and flat or slightly convex above eyes. The front of horns and face are practically in one plane. In bulls, the convexity may be slightly more pronounced. The face is lean, fine and slightly dished to muzzle. Lips are muscular and jaws strong. Eyes are full and placed. Ears are somewhat long, broad and slightly pendulous. Tharparkar cows calve for the first time at an average age of about 1,247 days (range 1,116 to 1,596 days), milk yield is 1,749 kg (range 913 to 2, 14.7 kg) and calving interval 431 days (range 408 to 572 days) fat is about 4.88% (range 4.72 to 4.90%) and SNF 9.2% (range 8.9 to 9.7%).


Umblachery breed of cattle, one of the best draught breeds of Tamil Nadu, is found in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagappattinam districts. It derives its name from its home tract, Umblachery, a small village 10 km away from Thiruthuraipoondi town in Nagapattinam district. This breed is considered to be developed by crossing Kangayam with local animals' of Thanjavur, and is very similar to Kangayam except in the appearance of head and smaller size. These are light built draught animals developed for work in the marshy paddy fields. About 60-70% of cattle in this area belong to Umblachery breed. Umblachery calves are generally red or brown at birth with all the characteristic white markings on the face, on limbs and tail. This colour changes to gray at about 6 months of age. Tn adult females, the predominant coat colour is gray with white markings on face and legs. Bullocks are gray in colour. All the legs below hocks have white marks either 'socks' or 'stockings' even a portion of hooves is white. The forehead is fairly broad, sometimes with a slight groove in the middle. It is well pronounced with a white star. The face is short and straight. The muzzle is broad and black. Eyes are prominent and bright with black eyelashes. Ears are short, erect and laterally placed. Horns are very small, curving outward and inward and sometimes spreading laterally. These are thick in bulls and thin in cows. Hump is medium in size, not fleshy, generally erect. The dewlap is thin and short extending to the sternum. In cows, udder is moderately developed with small and squarely placed teats. Milk-vein is not prominent. Bullocks are small, swift and suited for agricultural operations. Umblachery bullocks are used for plowing, carting, thrashing and paddling. The bullocks are capable of doing work for 6 to 7 hours under the hot sun. A pair of bullocks can pull a total load (including cart weight) of 2 to 2.2 tonnes over a distance of 20 km in about 7 hours. Daily milk yield is around 2 kg. The female produces 300 to 500 liters of milk in lactation. On an average, milk contains 4.94± 0.06% fat and 7.80±0.03% SNF.


The Vechur cow has now attracted international recognition and attention. The credit of saving the Vechur cattle from the brink of extinction goes to a conservation program undertaken by the Kerala Agriculture University (KAU). the Vechur cattle are now recognized as the smallest cattle in the world. The maximum height of a Vechur cow is 91 cms. This diminutive cow, weighing on an average 107 kgs. can give an average yield of 3 liters of milk per day. Proportionate to its body weight, the Vechur cow yields maximum milk in the world. The local people preserved the purity of the breed by selective breeding. The extremely small size, low feed requirements, high disease resistant and lovable nature of the cute animals made the Vechur cattle the attractive. The dwarf cattle were well adapted for the hot, humid tropical climate of Kerala. Vechur bulls, though small in size (maximum height at hump level 105 cms), were very strong and these lightweight animals were used for plowing marshy paddy fields typical of Kerala. Infant mortality has been found to be almost nil in Vechur cattle under farm conditions, quite resistant to foot and mouth disease and mastitis. Compared to crossbred cows, significantly lower incidences of respiratory infections have been reported from Vechur cattle. The percentage of fat and total solids in the milk of Vechur cows is higher compared to crossbred cows. But a more significant aspect is the size of the fat globules. The small size of fat globules means high phospholipid content because of greater surface area. Phospholipids are important in the development of brain and nerve tissues and also play a vital role in the absorption and digestion of fat. Thus the Vechur cow milk and its products are suitable for infants and the sick.

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Red Sindhi - Few cattle only at organized farms

Breeds of cattle in India

A breed is a group of related animals with similar characters like general appearance, size, features and configuration etc. Often, breeds resemble each other with slight morphological differences, but because of constant inbreeding in one locality, independent breeds have evolved. In general, the cattle from drier regions are well built and those from heavy rainfall areas, coastal and hilly regions are of smaller build. There are total 231 breeds of cattle in the world out of which 37 are in India. Most indigenous cattle breeds in the tropics are multipurpose (milk, meat, draught) and that only a few breeds have good milk potential. Indian cattle breeds of cattle are classified into three types as under:

Milch breeds: The cows of these breeds are high milk yielders and the male animals are slow or poor workers. The milk production of milk breeds is on the average more than 1600 kg. per lactation. The examples of Indian milch breeds are Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Gir and Deoni.

Dual Purpose breeds: The cows in these breeds are average milk yielder and male animals are very useful for work. Their milk production per lactation is 500 kg to 150 kg. The example of this group are Ongole, Hariana, Kankrej, Deoni, Rathi , Mewathi, Dangi and Nimari.

Draught breeds: The male animals are good for work and cows are poor milk yielders and their milk yield on an average is less than 500 kg per lactation. They are usually white in colour. The example of this group is Hallikar, Amritmahal, Khillari, Bargur, Nagori, Bachaur, Malvi, Kenkatha, Kherigarh, Kangayam, Ponwar, Siri, Gaolao, Krishna Valley.


Breed Habitat Age at First Calving (Yrs) Calving Interval (Months) Lactation Length (Days) Average Lactation Yield (Lts) Fat Content (%age)
Gir Kathiawar (Gujrat), Gir forest and adjoining areas of Rajasthan & Maharastra 4 14 - 16 240 - 380 1225 - 2268 4.5 - 4.6
Sahiwal Montgomery (Pakistan), Punjab, Hariana, U.P., M.P., Bihar, West Bengal 3 - 4 13 - 18 290 - 490 1134 - 3175 4.0 - 6.0
Red Sindhi Sindh & Karachi (Pakistan) 3 - 3.5 13 - 18 270 - 490 683 - 2268 4.0 - 5.0
Tharparkar Sindh (Pakistan), Jaisalmer, Jodhpur (Rajasthan) 3.5 - 4 14 - 18 280 - 440 680 - 2268 4.2 - 4.7
Hariana (Dual Purpose) East Punjab, Kissar, Karna, Delhi, Gurgaon 4 - 4.5 19 - 21 263 - 320 635 - 1497 4.0 - 4.8
Ongole (Dual Purpose) Ongole tract of Andhra Pradesh Guntur, Nellore 4 - 4.5 16 - 18 300 - 330 1179 - 1633 5.1


The European breeds of dairy cattle belong to the species of Bos taurus. They are humpless generally large spread with a fine coat, short ears, without a pendulous dewlap. They are less heat tolerant and less disease resistant as compared to Indian cattle, but are superior in milk production, The exotic breeds of cattle have been used in India on a fairly extensive scale with a view to improve the milk yielding capacity of the indigenous cows. The important European breeds of dairy cattle are Holstein Friesian, Brown Swiss, Jersey, Guernsey and Ayrshire.

Breed Habitat Age at First Calving (Months) Body Colour Average Lactation Yield (Lts) Fat Content (%)
Holstein Friesian Holland 25 - 27 Black and white 6150 3.5
Jersey Island of Jersey in the English channel 23 -24 Fawn with our without white markings 4000 5.5
Brown Swiss Switzerland 27 - 29 Distinctly 5250 4
Ayrshire Scotland 25 - 27 Light to deep cherry red with or without shades 4840 4.1
Red Dane Denmark - Red or Reddish brown 2500 - 3000 4

Guinness World Records- For the record

  • Who: Diana
  • What: Smallest Cow (Height)
  • Where: Kerala
  • When: 09 November 2010

The shortest cow is Diana; a seven-year-old “Vechur” cow is a rare breed of Bos Indicus cattle, who measured 77 cm from the hoof to the withers.

The Indigenous cattle breeds were developed mainly for agricultural operations, therefore, a majority of these breeds belong to draft category (Nagori, Bachaur, Kenkatha, Malvi, Nimari, Ponwar, Kherigarh, Hallikar, Amritmahal, Khillar, Red Kandhari, Dangi, Bargur, Kangayam, Pulikulam, Siri etc.). The milk production of these breeds is very low therefore uneconomical if kept for milk purpose only. This resulted in the decline of many cattle breeds in the present day production system. The mechanization and commercialization of agriculture has influenced the utility of these breeds as draft animals. Dairy type cattle breeds are Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Gir, Kankrej and Rathi. Cows of these breeds are high milk producers but bullocks are of poor draft quality. The dual-purpose cattle breeds viz. Haryana, Ongole, Tharparkar, Krishna Valley, Mewati, Deoni and Gaolao are fairly good milkers and bullocks provide good draft power. There are three breeds (Punganur, Vechur and Malnad Gidda) which of lesser body weight and suitable for hilly regions. The cattle breeds of North West region adjoining to Pakistan viz. Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Tharparkar have their breeding tract in Pakistan and very few animals are available in the country. The situation is critical for Sahiwal and Red Sindhi animals, which can be put in a category of threatened breeds. The population of Tharparkar is more than these two breeds but it also calls for conservation through genetic improvement. Due to the mechanization, the use of bullocks as draft power has reduced resulting into steep decline in the population of the most famous dual-purpose breed of North India, Haryana, Rathi and Nagori breed also do not seem to have a bright prospect. Breeds in the central India particularly, Malvi and Nimari have also been exploited by an introduction of crossbreeding and have shown a decline in the population. Dangi, Deoni, Red Kandhari, Khillar and Gaolao breeds in Maharashtra region and Gir and Kankrej in Gujarat region have a better population status due to their economic viability, but the productivity is also low in comparison with Gir in Brazil and other countries. The Red Kandhari strain of cattle of Maharashtra has also a very small population but it secured due to the preference of this breed as a draft animal by the farmers of the area. The Kangayam still have a good population and some improvement programs are going on. Present status of Ongole cattle in India is very dismal. Breed in its pure form is scarcely available even in its native tract. Most of the indigenous cattle in its pure form are scarcely available even in its native tracts. The Scientific Reason being Cross-breeding with exotic cattle, inbreeding, and urbanization had reduced the number drastically. In the last decade, two small sized breeds have been cited namely ‘Punganur’ in Andhra Pradesh and ‘Vechur’ in Kerala, which has a small population and is in the threatened category. Some of other draft breeds such as Ponwar, Kherigarh, Krishna Valley and Bargur cattle also needs immediate attention for conservation.

Lost Indigenous Cattle: 27

Those are Alambadi- Arunachali- Bengali- Burmese Gaur - Cutchi- Devarakota – Devni – Gayal- Gangatiri- Ghumusari- Goomsur– Gujamavu– Hissar –Jellicut- Kppiliyan –Khamala –Khasi- Krishnagiri- Kumauni– Ladakhi– Manapari -Mampati – Mhaswad –Nagami – Nakali– Purnea- Ramgarhi– Sanchori- Shahabadi- Son Valley– Sunandini- Tarai- Taylor- Thillari– Tho Tho– Zosial

Worldwide Distribution of Indigenous Cattle

  • The second most successful group of breeds (in terms of their worldwide distribution) has Indian ancestry. They include the Brahman (ranked ninth overall and found in 45 countries), Sahiwal (29 countries), Gir, Red Sindhi, Kankrej and Ongole/Nellore. These breeds are all of the humped Bos Indicus type, rather than the humpless Bos Taurus. Outside their home area, Indian breeds have been most successful in tropical Latin America and Africa. The Sahiwal, the best Indian dairy breed, originates from Pakistan and India. It has been introduced to 12 African countries. Several Indian breeds have been more successful abroad than at home presumably because abroad they are prized for their meat, milk, and exports (unlike in many areas of India, where cattle are mainly used for milk and draught, and for cultural reasons often cannot be sold for slaughter).
  • Pure Indian breeds have had little influence in most developed countries. However, breeds based on Indian stock have had a major impact in the warmer parts of the United States of America and in northern Australia, where they have been bred primarily for beef production. From there, they have been exported to many tropical countries. The Brahman, for example (developed in the United States of America based on stock originally from India), is found in 18 countries in Latin America and 15 in Africa – figures similar to those for the Simmental, the most widely spread European dual purpose breed in these regions.
  • Indian cattle have also made a major contribution to composite breeds used elsewhere in the tropics. These include the Santa Gertrudis (descended from Shorthorn × Brahman crosses, and found in 34 countries around the world), Brangus (Angus × Brahman, 16 countries), Beefmaster (Shorthorn and Hereford × Brahman), Simbrah (Simmental × Brahman), Braford (Brahman × Hereford), Droughtmaster (Shorthorn × Brahman), Charbray (Charolais × Brahman) and Australian Friesian Sahiwal (Holstein-Friesian × Sahiwal). Virtually all this breeding work has been done in the southern United States of America and in Australia, beginning in the twentieth century. Many of these breeds have been re-exported to other countries, especially in the tropics, where they generally perform better than the European pure-breeds.
  • Other Indian cattle breeds have not broken out of their home region. They include the Haryana, Siri, Bengali, Bhagnari, Kangayam and Khillari breeds – which are found in two or more countries in South Asia – along with numerous local breeds.
  • Nellore Cattle: The Nellore originates from Indian Zebu-type Ongole cattle which Brazil started to buy from India in the early 1900s. In Brazil, the breed came to be known as Nellore, after the district of Nellore in present-day Andhra Pradesh, India. The breed thrived in South America, and in the 1950s Argentina started its own breeding program for the “Nellore Argentino”. The Nellore was later exported to the United States of America and there became one of the progenitors of the “Brahman”. In 1995, the breed made up more than 60 percent of Brazil’s 160 million cattle, and in 2005 some 86.5 percent of Brazil’s 190 million cattle, had Nellore blood. Ironically, while the Ongole has been successfully established in a number of countries in North and South America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Australia, its population has greatly declined in its original range in coastal Andhra Pradesh, and it is qualitatively inferior to the population in Brazil.
  • Specifically, with the Ongole indigenous breed, known as the Brahman breed existing in 45 foreign countries, the cattle population is now estimated at 400 million. Other countries are benefiting from the growth in popularity of one of India’s prized indigenous cattle breeds. Currently, the biggest exporters of Indian indigenous cattle in the world are USA, Canada, Australia and Brazil.
  • Comparatively, in India the Ongole cattle breed population is now estimated at 700 to 750 cattle and is presently in endangered status. The famous Gir cows of Gujarat are fast approaching extinction. The cows, which were around 1,500,000 in 1967, have just been reduced to 5,000 today. On the other hand, Brazil which took Gir in the 1890s now has around 4,000,000, Brazilians have shown their respect to Gir as a coin depicting the image of Gir cow was released in Currency of Brazil.
  • The Gir of Brazil high yield milk production is 20 times that of the Gir in India present day. Ongole from various other countries high yield milk production is 10 times that of the Ongole in India present day. Indigenous cattle breeds’ milk yields are breaking world records in Brazil, USA, and Canada. In Brazil, the world record holder of milk production, the GIR cattle breed which has been recorded to produce 62 liters of milk in one day. In fact, this record-breaking cow is worth Rs.10 crores.
  • When these two indigenous breeds of cattle are compared to the exotic crossbred cows in India, the top milk producers for Gir produce 8 times more milk and the top producers for Ongole produces 4 times more milk. Further advantages are that the indigenous breeds’ milk is more nutritious with higher levels of micronutrients; indigenous breeds are especially known for qualities of heat tolerance, resistance to diseases and ability to thrive under extreme nutritional stress. Global warming is likely to increase incidences of animal diseases, particularly viral and protozoan diseases in crossbred cattle.
  • Not many people know that India is the world leader in milk production and that it has about 3 times as many dairy animals as the USA, although over 80% of the animals are herds of 2-8 animals. In fact, India has the highest number of small scale dairy farms in the world, although India leads the world in milk production, there is a dramatic difference in milk yields per animal when comparing to the average annual milk yield of Indian cattle is 1,172 kg, much lesser to cattle from New Zealand (3,343 kg), Australia (5,600 kg), UK (7,101 kg), US (9,332 kg), Canada (9,774 Kg), Israel (10,214 kg) and Brazil (18,000 Kg GIR), the average per day milk production of indigenous cattle being 2.14kg, which is much lower than the crossbred that gives 6.87 kg.

By the Vedic philosophy of this land, it is believed that Holy Cow is the mother of all beings in this world, The Universal Mother. If The Cow is protected it protects us and all beings. A cow is an integral part of Indian culture since times immemorial. All Yajnas and rituals are considered complete and sacred with the presence of cow. The cow is given a divine status in our scriptures. So much so Lord KRISHNA himself served and worshiped cow and identified it as 'caretaker' thus the status of 'MOTHER'. A cow is the source of progress and prosperity. In many ways, it is superior to one’s mother.

In earlier days when modes of transport were not so developed the rivers demarcated the boundaries which helped in maintaining the purity of different breeds of cows. Gradually with the growth in trade; the exchange of different breeds increased as well. Many farmers/traders did not bother much to maintain the purity of breeds. Resultantly, due to cross breeding, the purity of breeds declined but more or less the purity of Indian cows remained intact. Bull's pride, big horns and high raised back (HUMP) used to describe the style of Indian cow! As the trade expanded more attention was being given to the benefits derived from the cow rather than its sacred status and the main focus was given to milk, meat, and leather. The best and strongest bulls and cows of India began to disappear and some were sent overseas. As the number of good cows decreased the milk production also declined; hence exotic breeds were introduced. To increase the quantity of milk time to time the government at center/state level has introduced various schemes under 'white revolution' and 'operation flood.' Under these schemes to increase the supply of milk from a cow the successive governments have and are importing Semen of exotic breeds and also Bulls of exotic breeds to improve indigenous cows. The farmers/ dairy owners/ cattle owners are encouraged to rear exotic breeds or increase the population of cross-breed cows with the help of these methods. But with the implementation of these schemes, our own Indian milk cattle pure-breeds are on the verge of extinction. Even if we want cross-breed cows at least for that pure Indian breeds are the prerequisites.

In India the purity of the breeds are not maintained and also a lot of inbreeding happens which leads to further deterioration of the Indian cow standards and thus bringing the status of cow further down.


There are 37 Indian breed of Cows; which includes both milk, draught and dual breeds. GIR, SAHIWAL, RED-SINDHI, RATHI, HARYANA, THARPARKAR are considered to be very good milk yielders. Many of these breeds have lost their purity and only a few hundred cattle of pure blood-line are left in India. With good management practices, our own Gir cow is giving record milk yield up to 62 liters/day in Brazil and Mexico. Sahiwal cows in Pakistan and Australia have recorded around 30 Litres/day yield. And these breeds are very easy to rear and maintain without any major diseases and are good tolerant to the tropical environment.

To spread the awareness of the importance of our own Indian cow and of course to save and improve the Indian breeds, ANKUSH’ has come forward for conservation, research and high genetic breed improvement of indigenous cattle. We feel that till we do not improve the standard of breeds we shall not be able to restore the glory of Mother cow (Gomata).

The Society have established a model breeding project and spread awareness amongst our villagers/farmer brothers for bringing prosperity and health. The project aims towards holistic development of villagers. The improved indigenous cows rearing and processing of cow products are the major activities for sustainable income and employment generation. The key resource here is Indigenous cow.


  • To Increase the number of Indigenous quality cows which are on the verge of extinction.
  • To popularize indigenous breeds.
  • To raise standard of Indian breeds.
  • To make available good bulls for procreation.
  • To introduce/popularize modern dairy management in indigenous breeds.
  • To make public aware of importance of ‘PANCHGAVYA’ (cow-milk, curd, ghee, urine & dung).
  • To popularize vermi compost usage in agriculture.
  • To popularize Indian cow-urine therapies and cow-urine medicines.
  • To establish breeding farms (Native Breeds) at different places throughout the state.
  • To restore the worship and importance of the Indian breed cows.
  • To make the public aware of the benefits of Indian cows by organizing separate cattle shows/ exhibitions for native breeds in different parts of the nation.
  • To introduce bull exchange program to avoid inbreeding.
  • To increase awareness in maintaining pedigree records in Indigenous cows.
  • To start and strengthen Indigenous cow breeders association and establish its branches all over.
  • Integrated cycle of cow products and it’s backward- forward linkages for income and employment generation in rural areas
  • Generation of biogas for cooking, lighting and electricity generation to achieve self sufficiency in energy demand

The tropical climate of our country does not suit exotic breed cows and hence these breeds of cows are prone to many diseases and we are not able to get very good yield from these cows. In addition to this the upkeep of these breeds cost very high and there are many social stigmas which do not allow killing or culling of cows in our country.

So there is a yearning need to save and improve our own milk breeds for proper nutrition and employment, thus making our villagers/farmers economically sound.

Although cross breeds are economically viable the second or third generation populations have shown deterioration and decrease in milk yield. To maintain the performance of these cross breeds at desired level, a large number of progeny tested bulls is required. Indigenous breeds can be made commercially viable within few generations but no organized efforts have been made to improve the genetic potential of indigenous breeds. Cross breeds are more productive as compare to indigenous breeds but their tendency to wilt under Indian conditions of low input and harsh climate, susceptibility to tropical diseases warrants the conservation and development of indigenous breeds. Usefulness of various indigenous breeds has not been fully explored. The non-renewable energy resources are bound to exhaust sooner or later if this happens then we may have to fall back on our animal wealth for providing draught power and hence we cannot take risk of letting these breeds go extinct. The domesticated breeds are integral part of our eco-system, culture and heritage. Thus there is imperative need to develop our indigenous breeds for milk production, draught power etc.

What makes Indian cow special:

  • Indigenous cattle breed make an enormous contribution to food production and food sovereignty. Their mobility and hardiness allow them to access distant and remote grazing areas especially in deserts, marginal lands and mountainous regions that could otherwise not be put to productive use. They convert the vegetation in these areas into milk, meat and other products that sustain the urban population.
  • Indigenous cattle breed can utilize small and dispersed patches of vegetation, for instance along roadsides, and many types of household and crop wastes, a capacity that is of crucial value to the economic empowerment and dignity of women.
  • Indigenous cattle are essential components of organic/natural farming systems through the production of manure. Outside organic production system too, their manure decrease the need for artificial fertilizer and they thereby mitigate climate change.
  • Indigenous cattle breed are important source of draught power which saves on fossil fuels.
  • Indigenous cattle act as insurance against drought and have the capacity to adapt to climate change due to their tolerance of climate extremes.
  • Indigenous cattle breeds are the basis for sustainable livestock production in the future since they are independent of grains and do not compete with humans for food.
  • Indigenous cattle are an integral part of the environment and in many cases necessary to sustain wildlife biological diversity as well as balancing ecosystems.
  • Indigenous cattle are the product of traditional knowledge and sustainable lifestyles. They represent biological diversity whose survival is intimately tied to traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices. They, therefore, fall under the domain of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to which India is a signatory.
  • Indigenous cattle are tolerant to heat and can tolerate up to 48-50 degree Celsius and remain healthy.
  • Indigenous cattle’s body size is small to medium. So the food requirement is less.
  • Indigenous cattle has HUMP which helps in plowing fields.
  • Indigenous cattle have a bigger dewlap which helps in tolerating high temperature.
  • Indigenous cattle has smaller udder hence mastitis disease is uncommon.
  • Indigenous cattle repel flies and Mosquitoes and remain clean. Foreign cows remain dirty and flies are hovering on them.
  • Many drugs are prepared with Indigenous cow urine. Domestic cow’s milk and urine cure many ailments. Even if the chemical infested feed is given to indigenous cows its effect in milk is negligible as indigenous cows take all ill effects on its body.
  • Milk (A2) of indigenous cows is more beneficial, micronutrients like cytokines and minerals present to enhance the immune system. Exotic breeds have more milk (A1) but fewer nutrients.
  • Beta-casein is a type of protein that makes up one-third of the protein in milk. It is a high-quality milk protein that is a source of essential amino acids, as well as peptides. Most dairy milk today contains 2 main types of beta-casein protein, A2 and A1. A2 milk is rich in A2 beta-casein protein, which helps them produce healthier milk it may assist with your digestive wellbeing. The A1 milk is considered to be associated with diabetic, obesity, cardiovascular diseases.

The Scientific Evidence:

Dr. Keith Woodford, Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, Lincoln University, New Zealand brings together at least eight strands to the evidence, with more than 100 relevant papers in the peer reviewed medical and science literature.

National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, Karnal, Haryana screened the status of the A2 allele of the beta-casein gene in 22 indigenous cattle breeds and the two dominant foreign breeds Holstein Friesian and Jersey. The frequency of this A2 allele was 100 percent in the top five indigenous milch breeds –Red Sindhi, Sahiwal, Tharparkar, Gir and Rathi, A2 allele gene which helps them produce healthier milk – and around 94 percent in other indigenous dual and draught breeds, its status was merely 60 per cent in Holstein-Friesian and Jersey. Indian cows produce more nutritious milk than the exotic breeds like Jersey and Holstein-Friesian.

A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) review, which canvassed the claims that milk containing A2 beta casein was less likely to cause health problems than the milk containing the A1 form, said that different types of cow's milk were safe to drink and no one type of milk was safer than another.

The issue is expected to attract new attention in the wake of recent Indian research which showed local cow and buffalo breeds possessed a rich A2 allele gene that "provides a better and healthier quality of milk than foreign breeds".

A1 versus A2:

Milk of European breeds is addictive, triggers schizophrenia, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

In July 2007, Dr Keith Woodford, a professor of farm management at New Zealand’s Lincoln University published in the Proceedings of the 16th international farm management association Congress a paper titled A2 Milk, Farmer Decisions, and Risk Management (Eds S.O’ Reilly, M. Keane, P. Enright. ISBN: 978-92-990038-3-1) that reported how “approximately 500 New Zealand dairy farmers are converting their herds to eliminate production of A1 beta-casein within the milk” responsible for “Type 1 diabetes, heart disease and autism”.

Dr. Woodford went on to explain: “The alternative (to A1) is A2 beta-casein, and the associated milk is known as A2 milk. Originally all cow milk was of the A2 type. However, a genetic mutation, probably between 5000 and 10,000 years ago, has resulted in a proportion of cows of European breeds producing a casein variant called A1 beta-casein. A1 beta-casein is absent in the milk of pure Asian and African cattle.”

He offered “eight strands of the evidence” to the ill-effects of A1 beta-casein: countries with high intakes of A1 beta-casein are the countries with high levels of Type 1 diabetes and heart disease; A1 and A2 beta-case in digest differently and only A1 beta-casein releases beta-casomorphin7 (BCM7) which is a powerful opioid(addictive) and causes arterial plaque; rabbits fed A1 beta-casein develop considerably more plaque on their aorta and rats show higher incidence of Type 1 diabetes; evidence from American and European investigations show that autistic and schizophrenic persons typically excrete large quantities of BCM7 in their urine; and many who are intolerant to milk are able to drink A2 milk.

Dr. Woodford was worried that most consumers and dairy farmers worldwide remained unaware of the issues surrounding A1 and A2 milk. Within four years, Indian scientists at the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) came up with their own study. “The A2 allele gene in Indian milk breeds of cows and buffalos are 100 per cent, while in foreign breeds, it is around 60 percent,” it said in 2011.

According to Dr. Keith Woodford, the major consumer market for A2 milk is in Australia where it is available in some 800 supermarkets and 200 convenience stores. Currently, A2 Corporation has only one market where they are profitable. That market is Australia where A2 Corporation now claims a 6.8% market share by value of milk sold in supermarkets and similar stores. These sales have increased tenfold over a 5 year period from September 2007. In the most recent 12 months through to September 2012, sales increased close to 50%. A2 milk has been available since October 2012 in some 700 UK supermarkets (Tescos, Morrisons, and Budgens), with more supermarkets coming online in 2016. There will soon also be A2 infant formula on sale in China, with market entry planned for June 2016 using A2 milk. In an increasingly health conscious world, this creates a huge potential for global demand for the A2 milk of our indigenous breeds.

Dr. Keith Woodford says: December 14, 2011 at 10:10 pm; “The issue of A1 and A2 is important for India, because all of the Indigenous cattle are A2, but I doubt whether I would have much influence with your Government”.


The domestic or water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) belong to the family bovidae, sub-family bovinae, genus bubalis and species arni or wild Indian buffalo. Buffalo are believed to have been domesticated around 5000 years ago in the Indus Valley. The water buffalo can mainly be classified as River (Chromosome no., 2n=50) and swamp type (Chromosome no., 2n=48). The domestication of swamp buffalo took place independently in China about 1000 years later. The movement of buffalo to other countries both east and westwards has occurred from these two countries. Some of the well-known dairy breeds of buffalo found in India and Pakistan are Murrah, Nili-Ravi, Kundi, Surti, Jaffarabadi, Bhadawari, Mehsana, Godawari and Pandharpuri. Despite potential advantages, little attention has been paid to Buffalo improvement programs. The Buffalo is known as water buffalo. There are a number of buffalo breeds in India but true to type and descriptive breeds are Murrah, Jaffrabadi, Niliravi and Mehsana. The swamp buffalo are concentrated mainly in south-east China, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippine, and Vietnam. The skin colour is gray, dark gray to state blue. White animals occur frequently. Animals have swept back horns and are similar in appearance across the countries except for the size. The horns grow laterally and horizontally in young animals and curve round in a semi-circle as the animals get older. Animals are massively built, heavy bodied with a large belly. The forehead is flat; orbits are prominent with a short face and wide muzzle. They weight from 300 to 400 kg when fully grown. Swamp buffalo are primarily used as work animal in paddy cultivation, for pulling carts and hauling timber in jungles. Milk yield is 1-2 kg per day.

BREEDS: On the basis of regions the well defined buffalo breeds are:


  • Murrah
  • Nilli Ravi
  • Kundi
  • Godavari


  • Surti
  • Jaffarabadi
  • Mehsana


  • Bhadawari
  • Tarai


  • Nagpuri
  • Pandhepuri
  • Manda
  • Jerangi
  • Kalhandi
  • Sambalpur


  • Toda
  • South Kanara
Breed Habitat Population size AFC (mnth) Calving Interval (Days) Average Lactation Yield (Lts) Fat (%) Characteristics
Murrah Rohtak, Kamal, Hissar, Gurgaon, Punjab, Delhi, U.P 200000 42.52 334.537 1360 - 2270 6.9 Black in colour Massive and stocky animals heavy bones, horns are short and tightly curled. Placid.
Jaffarabadi Gir forest of Kathiawar, Jaffarabad, Junagarh, Jumnanagar, Kutch (Gujarat) 60000 40 - 45 447.0 1300 - 1400 9 - 10 Black coloured coat. Massive and long-barreled confirmation. Horns are long, heavy and broad and sometimes they cover the eyes.
Bhadawari Bhadawari estate (Agra), Gwaliar, Etawah 3000 50 -52 453.6 1100 - 1300 7 - 13 Copper coloured coat, scanty hair which is black at the roots and reddish brown at the tip. Sometimes it is completely brown. The neck presents the typical white colour ring. Tail switch is white or black and white. Horns are short and grow backwards.
Surti Anand, Baroda & Surat (Gujarat) 50000 36 - 38 461.1 1300 - 1400 7.5 Black colour coat, skin is black or reddish. They have two white chevrons on the chest. Animals with white markings on forehead, legs and tail tips are preferred. Horns are flat, of medium length, sickle shaped and are directed downward and backward, and then turn upward at the tip to form a hook. The udder is well developed, finely shaped and squarely placed between the hind legs. The tail is fairly long, thin an flexible ending in a white tuft.
Nili Ravi Firozpur (Punjab) 650000 40.7 - 53.2 445 - 525 2000 6.5 This breed is similar to the Murrah in almost all characteristics except for the white markings on extremities and walled eyes; horns are less curled than in the Murrah; the udder is well shaped and extend well forward up to the naval flaps. Black in colour, short horns.
Mehsana Mehasana District (Gujarat) 40000 1287 days 16mnts 1800 - 2700 6.6 - 8.1 Characteristics are intermediate between Surti and Murrah. Jet black skin and hair are preferred. Horns are sickle-shaped but with more curve than the Surti. The udder is well developed and well set. Milk veins are prominent.
Nagpuri Nagpur, Wardha and Berar districts of Madhya Pradesh 360000 36 - 40 - 825 7.0 Black in color, sometimes there are white markings on the face, legs and switch. Horns are 50 - 65cm long, flat - curved and carried back near to the shoulders. Nasal flap is mostly absent and even if present is very short.