Cattle Biodiversity of India
P.K. Singh

National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources
P.O. Box- 129, Karnal (Haryana- India)- 132 001
Email: pksinghmathura@yahoo.com

Indian cattle population is an integral part of the agriculture. Thus the cattle occupy central position and are basis of the Indian rural livelihood security. The cattle biodiversity in India constitutes 33 well-defined breeds of cattle apart from non-descript types and some lesser known breeds which constitute around 75% of the total cattle population (185.18 million as per livestock census of 2003). India is highest milk producing country of the world and total milk contribution of cows is 40% in total milk production of 90.7 million metric tones. The cattle and buffalo account for more than two third of the total output value of the livestock sector. Various indigenous breeds of cattle in the country are the result of thousands of years of selection, evolution and development of the wild species in the process of domestication suiting to the local agro-climatic conditions. These breeds are now losing ground due to stiffer competition from other breeds and due to their poor economic viability under the present system of management.

  The Indian cattle breeds were developed mainly for agricultural operations therefore, majority of these breeds belong to draft category (Nagori, Bachaur, Kenkatha, Malvi, Nimari, Kenkatha, Ponwar, Kherigarh, Hallikar, Amritmahal, Khillari, Red Kandhari, Dangi, Bargur, Kangayam, Ponwar, Siri etc.). The milk production of these breeds is very low therefore uneconomical, if kept for milk purpose only. This resulted in 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. Hariana, 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 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 in to steep decline in the population of the most famous dual-purpose breed of North India, Hariana, Rathi and Nagori breeds also do not seem to have a bright prospect. Breeds in the central India particularly, Malvi and Nimari have also been exploited by introduction of crossbreeding and have shown 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. The Red Kandhari strain of cattle of Maharashtra has also a very small population but it secured due to preference of this breed as draft animal by the farmers of the area. The Kangayam and Ongole still have a good population and some improvement programmes are going on. In the last decade two small sized breeds have been cited namely ‘Punganur’ in Andhra Pradesh and ‘Vechur’ in Kerala, which have a small population and are in threatened category. Some of other draft breeds such as Ponwar, Kherigarh, Krishna Valley and Bargur cattle also needs immediate attention for conservation.

Cattle Population in India: The trend of cattle population in India indicted a decline of 2.8% during 1992-97 and 5.8% during 1997-2003 with increase in buffalo population during same period. This shows that buffalo is accepted as the choice of animal for milk in India.



Category
Population in million
Percent Increase
/decrease 1992-97
Percent Increase/decrease
1997-2003
1992
1997
2003
Crossbred
15.22
20.01
24.48
34.2
22.3
Indigenous
189.37
178.78
160.7
-5.6
-10.1
Total
204.58
198.88
185.18
-2.8
-6.9

As per livestock census 2003, cattle are about 38.3% of total livestock population in the country (484 million). Therefore, it is very important to make judicious use of this cattle wealth in national economy. The population trend of cattle has been depicted in the following figure:

Utility of indigenous cattle genetic resources: The primary reason for cattle husbandry in India has been the draft utility of bullocks for different kind of agricultural operations. As per Singh (1999) with the modernization of agriculture, the use of mechanical power in agriculture has increased but draught animal power (DAP) continues to be used on Indian Farms due to small holding and hill agriculture. More than 55% of total cultivated area is still being managed by using draught animals against about 20% by tractors. India possessed the finest breeds of draught animals and bullocks of these breeds are fit for all kinds of agricultural operation. It is unfortunate that the DAP is not getting due weightage when contribution of cattle to national GDP is estimated. With the increasing demand of milk, some of the breeds were improved genetically for higher milk production and about 40% of the total milk of the country comes from cows. Different utility of cattle in India is given below:

1. They produce motive power for agricultural operations in terms of bullock.
2. They produce milk which supply the essential nutrients to the farmers’ families and cater the requirement of     urban population.
3. It provides considerable job opportunities to the large rural population specially women and youth.
4. They produce fertilizer in terms of compost from freshly laid dung. The dung is also made into cakes, sun dried     and used as fuel in rural sector.
5. The skin of animals form basic material for tanning industry.
6. The products and byproducts of cattle are used in preparation of Ayurvedic medicines.


Origin, Distribution and present population status of Indian cattle breeds:
The origin, distribution and present status of Indian cattle breeds have been depicted in the following Table:
Table: Origin, distribution and present status of Indian cattle breeds

S.NO
Breed
Category
Breeding tract
Approximate population
Reference
1.
Amritmahal
Draft
Hassan, Chikmagalur and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka
25,000
Network Project on AnGR-2000-2002
2.
Bachaur
Draft
Sitamari and some part of Madhubani, Darbhanga Samastipur and Muzaffarpur districts of Bihar
10,948
Network Project on AnGR-2000-2002
3.
Bargur
Draft
Bargur hills in Bhavani taluk of Erode district of Tamil Nadu
NA
 
4.
Dangi
Draft
Nasik and Ahmednagar districts of Maharastra
1,08,197
Network Project on AnGR-2000-2002
5.
Deoni
Dual
Marathwada region of Maharashtra State
1,18,945
Network Project on AnGR-1998-2000
6.
Gaolao
Dual
Wardha and nearby districts of Maharastra
NA
 
7.
Gir
Milch
Gir hills and forest of Kathiawar comprising Junagarh, Bhavnagar and Amreli districts of Gujrat
9,17,081
Network Project on AnGR-1998-2000
8.
Hallikar
Darft
Mysore, Mandya, Banglore, Kolar, Tumkur, Hassan and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka.
About 20 Lakhs
AHD, Karnataka
9.
Hariana
Dual
Rohtak, Hisar and Gurgaon districts of the Haryana State.
NA
-
10.
Kangayam
Darft
Kangayam, Dharapuram, Perundurai, Erode, Bhavani districts of TamilNadu.
4,79,200
AnGR of India- Cattle & Buffalo
11.
Kankrej
Milch
Southeast Rann of Kutch of Gujrat and Barmar and Jodhpur districts of Rajsthan
NA
-
12.
Kenkatha
Draft
Bundelkhand comprising Lalitpur, Hamirpur and Banda districts of UP.
NA
-
13.
Kherigarh
Draft
Lakhimpur-Khari district of UP.
15,709
NBAGR Pilot project- 2002
14.
Khillar
Draft
Kolapur, Solapur, Sangli and Satara district of Maharashtra.
8.12 Lakhs
Network Project on AnGR-2004-06
15.
Krishna Valley
Draft
Solapur, Sangli and Satara district of Maharashtra
Approx. 250
-
16.
Malvi
Dual
Indor, Ratlam, Mandsaur, Dewas, Sajapur, Ujjain and Rajgarh districts of MP.and Jhalawar district of Rajsthan
53,700
JNKVV Research Bulletin DRS/2002/01
17.
Mewati
Dual
Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajsthan and Mathura and Kosi in western UP.
NA
-
18.
Nagori
Draft
Nagaur and Jodhpur districts of Rajasthan.
1.73 Lakhs
NBAGR Research Bulletin No. 6- 1997
19.
Nimari
Draft
Narmada velly in M. P. and some also found Jalgaon district of Maharastra
1.10 Lakhs
JNKVV Research Bulletin DRS/2001/9
20.
Ongole
Draft
coast from Nellore to Vizianagaram, Chittoor, Kurnool, Cuddapah, Anantapur, Nalgonda, Mahabubnagar and Khammam districts of AP.
7341 in 60 villages under survey
Network Project on AnGR-1998-2000
21.
Ponwar
Draft
Piliphit district of UP
10,667
NBAGR Pilot project- 2002
22.
Punganur
Draft
Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh
In hundreds only
-
23.
Rathi
Milch
Bikaner, Ganganagar and Jaisalmer districts of Rajasthan.
NA
-
24.
Red Kandhari
Draft
Kandhar, Nanded, Latur and Parbhani districts of Marathwara region
14,000
Maharashtra AHD census
25.
Red Sindhi
Milch
Karachi and Hydrabad districts of Pakistan
NA
-
26.
Sahiwal
Milch
Fazilka and Abohar towns of Ferozepur districts of Punjab
NA
-
27.
Siri
Draft
Bhutan, Sikkim and West Bengal
10,000
AHD, Sikkim
28.
Tharparkar
Dual
Thar desert Tharparker district of southeast Sindh in Pakistan
NA
-
29.
Umblachery
Draft
coastal plains of Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts of Tamilnadu.
2.83 Lakhs
Network Project on AnGR-1998-2000
30.
Vechur
Draft
Kottayam distric of south Kerala
In hundreds only
-
31.
Gangatiri
Dual
Eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh and western parts of Bihar(Mainly Varanasi, Chandauli, Ghazipur, Ballia, Arrah (Bhojpur), Buxar, Chhapra, Sasaram and Bhabhua (Kaimur) of Bihar.)
67,000
NBAGR Pilot survey
32.
Malnad Gidda
Draft/Mannure
Maland area of Karnataka (Mainly in Shimoga, Belgaum, Chikmaglur, North and South Kannad districts) More than 10 lakhs AHD Report, Karnataka
33.
Tho Tho
Draft
Nagaland
89,337
Network Project on AnGR-2004-06

Some Lesser Known Cattle Breeds are Vatakura and Kasargod (Kerala), Alambadi, Pulikulam (Tamilnadu), Trinket (A&N Islands), Bengali (WB), Binjharpuri, Ghumsuri (Orissa), Kumauni (Uttranchal), Purnea (Bihar). Some cattle strains like Frieswal, Karanswiss, Karanfries, Sunandini, Jersind are also present but in limited number at organized herd.

There is nothing wrong with crossbreeding but it needs to be implemented with caution. The need to utilize between-breed genetic differences via crossbreeding (where it is appropriate) is fully appreciated but there is an urgent need to give greater emphasis to the locally adapted animal genetic resources. Indigenous breeds survive, produce and reproduce in the environmental conditions under which they have developed. Crossbreds can produce more milk but they need more and better feed, and resources to exploit the potential. There is not going to be any major change in the production system-involving medium to low input in foreseeable future. Hence, under these conditions, locally adapted indigenous breeds should be favoured. Further, relative variability amongst animals for the traits of interest is often very much higher in the locally adapted breeds. This between animal variability can be exploited for higher genetic gains through well planned and executed breeding programmes. Breeding policy should be framed as:
   · Recognized breeds of Indian cattle especially milch breeds should be left out of crossbreeding programme to be improved through selective breeding only. These breeds should be used to upgrade local cattle in areas having low availability of feed, fodder and other resources.
 · Crossbreeding should be implemented only in potential areas having availability of quality feeds at relatively low prices, demand for cow milk, low demand for draught animals and accessibility to veterinary facilities. Only the non-descript or low producing animals should be bred through crossbreeding.
Artificial Insemnation: Artificial insemination is a tool to implement breeding policy in cattle and buffaloes in India. India has the world’s largest A.I. infrastructure consisting 73 frozen semen stations keeping around 2500 bulls and having capacity to produce 36 million doses of frozen semen annually. The total AI done in the country is something around 27 million during 1999-2000. AI for cattle and buffalo is one of the most important services provided by State Govt. Different AI centers and mobile units are also working in the country by milk cooperatives and NGOs. The growth in AI is steady, however the AI coverage on a national level is around 12% and in many parts of the country is far from satisfactory. The Govt. of India has proposed to increase the coverage of AI from the present 12 to 40 percent in the coming 10 years. State Governments have to ensure the quality of semen from collection to insemination so as to develop the faith of farmers in AI programme. Further, the semen of extraordinary bulls/progeny tested bulls should be used to get good results in succeeding generations. In India, so far preserved frozen semen of exotic breeds of cattle and only the important breeds of cattle is available. The following breeds of cattle has been taken up under AI programme so far:
Amritmahal, Deoni, Gir, Hallikar, Hariana, Kangayam, Kanjkrej, Khillari, Malvi, Nagori, Ongole, Rathi, Red kandhari, Red Sindhi, Sahiwal, Tharparkar and Umblacherry.
Rest of the cattle breeds should also be included in AI and genetic improvement programmes of respective states.
Present genetic improvement programme for cattle and buffalo in India:
A new comprehensive scheme, National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding (NPCBB) has been formulated with following innovations over previous programme:
1. Integration of states’ breeding policies with breeding programmes for better implementation of policy.
2. Developing synergies of all major players including ICAR-SAU system, NGOs and Gaushalas.
3. Institutional reforms in organizations undertaking cattle and buffalo breeding activities and more autonomy to implementing agencies in the states.
4. Promoting use of registered quality bulls for breeding.
5. Increased use of indigenous breeds for grading up non descript stock..
6. Promoting breed organizations.
7. Improving quality and coverage of AI through mobile AI services.
8. Programmes for areas covered under natural service and replacement of inferior bulls.


Recommendations:
1. Accurate breed wise census of all the cattle breeds and lesser-known breeds should be carried out by the department of Animal Husbandry.
2. A Breed Registration Authority should be constituted at national level so as to register all livestock and poultry breeds.
3. The performance recording of field animals along with breeding and health parameters recording may be planned with the involvement of Government and non-government agencies. The data and information collected from the farmers must be accurate and properly documented for future use.
4. Every State must develop its livestock breeding policy, review and revise the same periodically. The livestock policies and programmes to be adopted by State should be developed by a group of experts and thoroughly discussed with all stakeholders before its release as government order. Based on State breeding policy, species and breed wise breeding schemes, breeding plans and breeding operations must be framed and implemented.
5. The genetic improvement and conservation programmes should be formulated and implemented. Immediate action is needed for endangered breeds from respective state government.
6. Recognized breeds of Indian cattle should be left out of crossbreeding programme and should be improved through selective breeding only. These breeds should be used to upgrade local cattle in areas having low availability of feed, fodder and other resources. Crossbreeding should be implemented only in potential areas having availability of quality feeds at relatively low prices, demand for cow milk, low demand for draught animals and accessibility to veterinary facilities. Only the non-descript or low producing animals should be bred through crossbreeding.

References:
Singh, G. 1999. Draught animal energy research in India. Proceedings of the workshop of Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA) held 20-24th September 1999, South Africa 344p.