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 stands 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.
However, the indigenous Indian cow — one of the country’s biggest assets — will soon cease to exist. The government in the 1960s started crossbreeding Indian cows with imported bulls and semen and the program went out of control.
On the one hand, it has set off a systemic destruction of the indigenous Indian cow, which includes precious breeds developed over a millennium. On the other hand, the new exotic crossbreeds have not adapted to Indian conditions and they suffer from various diseases. Unlike the indigenous cow, they also need to be kept in very high-cost, air-cooled, all-weather shelters, and require expensive stall feeding and medical care.
NOT ALL IS LOST
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