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What India should know about Desi Cows, whatever be the political/food preference

Milk, for Indians, is not just another drink. It’s an elixir. Potent and emotional, milk is supposed to be the primary nutrient for the young and the old. 63% of animal protein diet for Indians comes from dairy products.

There is a reason why we are bringing this now. Now, when cows have been reduced to nothing but a political bait. This and 9 more upcoming posts is an effort, supported by VHS, to bring back attention to where it must – the benefits and importance of cows in India’s ecosystem. In this post, we are sharing 8 interesting facts about Desi Cows – Bos Indicus, knowledge of which you could flaunt the next time you notice a cow!

1) Desi Cows (Bos Indicus Cattle), sometimes known as humped cattle or Brahman cattle, are a type of domestic cattle originating in South Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent. They are characterized by a fatty hump on their shoulders, drooping ears, and a large dewlap. They are highly adapted to high temperatures and are farmed throughout the tropical countries.

“Domestic animals have unique genetic traits. Unfortunately, their economic value has not been understood,” says P N Bhat, an officer on special duty at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

2) Indigenous breeds adjust productivity to adverse climatic conditions and availability of food. They are resistant to diseases peculiar to the region in which they have evolved. ‘Elite’ breeds, however, are productive only in ideal, disease-free conditions. In the long run, exotic breeds are economically not viable.

3) Brazil is the biggest exporter of Indian breeds of cows. Gir cow now records over 62 liters/day in Brazil.This majestic cow is from Brazil. Belonging to the Gir breed of Gujarat, this cow — named She-Ra — clocked 62.033 liters of milk in a 3-day milk competition at the 40th Expaja in Brazil, beating her own record of 59.947 liters.

4) Sharma reports that the sale of A2 milk in Britain and Ireland has reached Rs 10- crore in just one year after its launch and is now available in 1,000 stores there. He continues: “In Australia and New Zealand, A2 milk is now the fastest growing with a share of 8% of the milk market, the sales increasing by 57% in a year. Meanwhile, China has emerged as a strong market for A2 milk after the scandal surrounding the sale of spurious baby milk powder some years back.”

5) At the time of independence, India had 111 varieties of indigenous cows. Today, there are just 37 left. You ask why? The reason for this looming biodiversity tragedy is the government’s indiscriminate import of exotic crossbreeds from other countries. The foreign cows have put the native Indian varieties on the brink of extinction. We’ll get to that in the coming post. 

6) Traditionally, India has been home to some of the most varied stock of cows in the world: the red-skinned Sahiwal that milks through droughts, the mighty Amrit Mahal with swords for horns or the tiny Vechur that stand no taller than a dog. Different breeds to suit different climatic conditions. These cows have been the most crucial backbone of India’s rural economy. Low on maintenance costs, their milk yield has not only been a succor and source of nutrition for otherwise impoverished families, their surplus has been sold by small farmers to State-run cooperatives and private companies, which further package and sell them to urban households under brands such as Amul, Vijaya, Verka, Saras, Nestle and Britannia.

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7) Traditional knowledge around deshi cow milk is complex, and it is not clear how much of it has already been lost.  There is a crying need for research on the properties of milk from indigenous cattle breeds, says Sajal Kulkarni, researcher associated with non-profit BAIF Development Research Foundation. “Taking the example of the Gaolao breed, there is a lot of traditional knowledge surrounding the milk quality of and its connection with the various kinds of wild grasses consumed by Gaolao, which has traditionally been an open grazing breed.”

We shall be bringing some light on benefits of unadulterated milk in coming posts. You can follow our Facebook page or subscribe to the newsletter to receive about the same.

8) The hump of a desi cow has a specific vein called Surya Ketu Nadi (yogis know the nadis are channels in the etheric body), which absorbs the energy from the sun and moon. The solar rays produce golden salts in her blood and are present in the products produced (e.g. milk, ghee, curd, butter), thus giving its golden color. The other cow by-products (e.g. dung, urine) have medicinal benefits as well acting as naturally producing manure, pesticide, and insecticide.

Note: Holy Cow! is a campaign sponsored by VHS, an independent organization that works with grassroots communities to promote sustainable dairy ecosystem. Chaaipani has full editorial discretion on the content and has no political association.

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Sarvesh Pande

Co-founder @ Ecomytra. Interested in Green Technology, Organic Agri-Business, Dairy Technology, and Sustainability.

About the Author

Sarvesh Pande

Co-founder @ Ecomytra. Interested in Green Technology, Organic Agri-Business, Dairy Technology, and Sustainability.

Read more from Sarvesh