Bovine Cattle in India – Cow & Buffalo The Distinguishing Characteristic

Human civilization is expected to be more than 2 million years old. After living life of nomads and hunters primitive humans began to settle in small colonies and started domestication of animals for their use. DNA traces cattle back to small herd domesticated animal 10,500 years ago. Firstly domesticated were dogs, due to the natural similarity of human social system with wolves, all dogs are descendent of wolves. Then came cows, pigs, sheep , goat, horses etc.

The domestication of cow started with the use of Ox. Humans found that strength of an ox can be used in dragging sledges, carrying heavy loads and later on ploughing the agriculture fields. With invention of wheels came the use of bullock carts.

Buffalo is better supplier of milk than cows in India so much so that India has put buffalo in milk category. Buffalos have said to be originated and domesticated in India about 5000 years ago, after then in China about 4000 years ago.

  • Total bovine population in India as per 19th Livestock census was 512.05 million.
  • Total Cows population [female] was 122.9 millionTotal Buffalos [female] was 92.5 million
  • Total milk production inn 2016-17 was 164 million tones
  • Total Cows total milk production in 2015-16 was 73646 thousand tonne
  • Total Buffalos total milk production in 2015-16 was 76459 thousand tonne

[ As per Government data – community.data.gov.in ]

Milk and farming is the basic necessity for humans behind domestication of the cows and buffalos. Humans always used both species for his requirements of milk and ploughing of fields, even today in small agricultural fields.

The term cows refer to the reproductive females cattle. Few of the female cattle are also called cows. Indigenous breads of cows have horns and with intestine length of 160’ to 180’ while fancy breeds do not have horns and with intestine length of 115’ to 120’.

Buffalo means both male and female and not one type only. The word buffalo refers to bull, female buffalos and calves. In India buffalo means Asian water Buffalo. All buffalos have horn thatcurve down and back.

Cows as well as buffalos are both bovine category but with distinctive differences that could be understood by following points

Now the focus of this article comes to the point that which dairy cattle is more profitable and easy to maintain in terms Indian context.

Although cows are sacred but buffalos are more preferred by Indian farmers in general. The cows are considered to be holy and their uses were more past independence period. The cows are mother of bullocks that used to help in ploughing of fields, draw water from wells, oil from spellers, thrash grains by trampling, and use of their dried dung as fuel. The bullocks are more stronger to buffalo bulls and were used in many different works. Today tractors or mechanized implements are used in place of bullocks for most of the agricultural work.

Cows account for nearly 45 % of total milk output in India. In which major portion comes from exotic or cross bred animals like Holstein Friesian, Jersey and Brown Swiss. The native indigenous breeds only produce fifth of total milk. More than 55% of total produce is buffalo milk. Reason for increase in preference of buffalo in dairying is that buffalo is pure commercial animal whether in milk, calf or after sale as buffalo has no holiness tag attached to it.

While buffaloes constituted 34.6 per cent of the country’s total bovine animal population (male plus female) as per the latest 2007 Livestock Census, the corresponding percentages were higher for Haryana (79.3), Punjab (74), Uttar Pradesh (55.8), Andhra Pradesh (54.2), Gujarat (52.4), Rajasthan (47.8) and Bihar (34.8). Most of these states are in the Vaishnav-Jain-Arya Samaj heartland, where the cow is specially revered. On the other hand, the buffalo shares were the lowest in Kerala (3.2), West Bengal (3.8) and the North-East states (4.6) that have no blanket laws prohibiting cow slaughter or sale of beef.

Buffalo can survive on low quality feeds or coarse fodder. In India livestock survives largely on crop residues, not many farmers in India can afford seprate land for forage cultivation and costly compound concentrate feed.

Resulting buffalo as more favourable cattle for poor Indian farmers.

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