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FARMER'S NOTEBOOK

Vechur cattle: ideal for household rearing

M.J. PRABU

The animals are docile, disease resistant and require less feed


Infant mortality is practically absent in this breed and new born calves are generally robust

— PHOTO: KAU

BOVINE BOUNTY: Cows give 2.5-3.5 litres of milk a day, which has a high fat content of 4.5-5 per cent

THE CENTRE for Advanced Studies in Animal Genetics & Breeding (CASAGB), Kerala Agricultural University has been conducting extensive research on Vechur, a dwarf breed of cattle, which was very popular at one time as a household breed in Kerala.

"Till the early 60's this variety was very popular in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts. Extensive crossbreeding of native cows with exotic bulls for higher milk production slowly saw this breed disappearing,'' said Dr. K.V. Raghunandnan, Director, CASAGB.

Easy maintanence

"The animals are docile, short and disease resistant. Compared to other cross-bred species, these animals are easy to maintain," he said. Being small their food requirement is also low.

"Adult females give 2.5-3.5 litres of milk a day, which has a high fat content of 4.5-5 per cent," Dr. Raghunandnan said. The milk is used in the preparation of ayurvedic medicines.

Breed characterestics

Vechur cattle are the smallest of Indian cattle breeds. They are mostly light red or black in colour with a long and narrow face. The legs are short. The tail is long and tapering, almost touching the ground.

According to Dr. Raghunandnan, the bulls reach a height of 85-95 cm and females, 80-90 cm.

The animals have a small hump on their back, which is more prominent in males. The bulls, though small in size, are strong and used for ploughing fields.

Robust calves

"Infant mortality is practically absent in this breed and new born calves are generally robust and strong," said Dr. Raghunandnan.

"The cattle are also resistant to mastitis (blockage of teats in the udder), and foot and mouth diseases and respiratory infections," he pointed out.

Breeding programme

With a view to popularise this breed , "a vigorous breeding programme has been undertaken by the centre to produce many pure Vechur cattle," explained Dr. Raghunandnan.

"A stock of about 10 bulls and 80 cows is now being maintained in two farms at KAU," he said.

"About 40 field units have also been established with the animals supplied from this stock in various parts of the state. "The centre provides Vechur semen from its semen bank for inseminating Vechur cows throughout the state.

"The cost of insemination of Vechur cows comes to Rs. 25 per dose," said Dr. Raghunandnan. The centre also supplies calves (below 6 months of age) at Rs. 5,000.

For more information, readers may contact the Director, CASAGB, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala 680651, phone 0487: 370461, email: raghukv_kau@yahoo.com

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