DD Singh, P Kumar and RS Chauhan
Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary and Animal sciences, G.B. Pant
University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar–263 145 (Uttaranchal), *Joint
Director (CADRAD) IVRI Izat nagar-243122. U.P. India
There are number of misconceptions regarding the usefulness of Indigenous cows. As the indigenous cows are low milch breeds, so people hesitate to keep them. Although indigenous cows are low milk producers but are useful in many ways for the families who are dependent on them. Without any biasness, both indigenous (I) and exotic/crossbred (E/C) cows have been compared, here in:
Indian Cow with HumpExotic Cross-bred Cow
Indian cows and bulls have hump, which is quite larger in bulls, useful in drafting.
Their back is without hump and straight so their bulls are less suitable for drafting.
Body length and size are medium or small.
Size and length of body are quite large.
In indigenous cows, dewlap is well developed which is useful for heat tolerance.
Dewlap is less developed so cannot tolerate heat stress.
They have well developed horns.
Hornless or with small horns.
Udder is medium to smaller in size, so less prone to mastitis.
Well developed udder, susceptible for mastitis.
Draft breeds have less milk production capacity but it can be enhanced by using selective breeding, good quality fodder and concentrates.
High milk producing animals. Bulls are quite active and strong enough to be used for agricultural operations and drafting.
Their bulls are not so active and inefficient for agricultural work.
Sound produced by indigenous cows are quite loud with high pitch. Sound slow with low pitch.
Indigenous cows are emotional and faithful to their owners.
They do not have any emotional attachment with owner.
Indigenous cows have originated from real cows. In forests, during grazing if their owner’s are attacked by lion or other wild animals, they make a protection zone around their owner to protect him.
They are originated from deer, chilighum, ketic, antelope etc. like animals. So they can be called as milking animal but not cow, as in our country Neelgay is not a cow, it is of deer family, in the same way, these cows resemble with the meting /sin animals of Burma, Jawa and Bali Islands.
Indigenous cows are acclimatized to Indian conditions so they can survive in any climatic conditions without affecting their performance. They can survive the summer temperature upto 48-50°C and winter as well.
They can survive only in colder regions/countries. In our country their acclimatiza- tion proved to be quite difficult.
Extra arrangements are needed to control the environmental temperature, otherwise their production goes down, rather they become ill and succumb to death.
Rearing of indigenous cows is quite cheap. They can be kept on grazing in grasslands, even with less feed, their performances are not effected. They do not need extra sheds as they live along with the owner in same hut.
As their production is good at low temperature under better hygiene, feed and managemental conditions, so, they need special devices of temperature regulation, sheds and fodder for production which impose extra economic burden on the farmer.
Indigenous cows have strong immunity therefore, outbreaks of different diseases are seen in low profile. They are even less susceptible to Rinderpest, H.S. etc. so there is less economical loss.
As their immune system is comparatively weak so they get infected with infections such as Riderpest, Haemorrhagic septicemia (HS), Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) etc. Frequency of illness is more in these cows.
As they are low milk produce so are less susceptible for udder ailments. Mastitis is occasionally seen that too, can be treated easily due to presence of sufficient macrophages in udder and teats.
As they are high milk, so are more susceptible for mastitis. Bacteria present on the skin and udder surface can easily enter in teat canal to cause disease, so performance get reduced. To prevent mastitis many hygienic and sanitary measures are needed requiring high expenses.
I: Generally they do not transmitt diseases.
E/C: Transmitt a number of diseases through import including mycoplasma, babesiosis, thelariosis, infectious abortion, pneumonia, diarrhoea, rotavirus infection leptospirosis, tuberculosis, brucellosis, clamydiosis, Johne’s disease, herpes virus infection. Many of the above diseases were absent in our country but entered through contaminated semen, milk, cows and bulls. They are causing a great economical hazard to our country.
I: Milk of indigenous cows are more nutritionally or scientifically beneficial, as some chemicals and micronutrients like cytokines, minerals and interferons present will enhance the immune system of consumers.
E/C: Due to large quantity, their milk is thinner in consistency and thought to be less nutritious.
I: Males of indigenous cows are used for agricultural and draft purpose. Their strength, working efficiency and adaptability are the boon for agriculture and drafting. They, not only plough our field but increase the production of field through their dung and urine. On the other hand, tractors which are driven by petrol/diesel pollute the field having harmful effects on our body in the form of residues.
E/C: Working efficiency of these bulls are less than indigenous ones, hence they are not much useful for agricultural purposes.
I: Drafting bulls were mainly used for ploughing, water pumping, carriage of grains and luggage from rural to urban areas but presently these works are being performed by buses, trucks and tractors, which are driven by petrol/diesel. These vehicles creates a lot of pollution and increasing our dependency on foreign countries for fuel.
E/C: They are not used for such works.
I: Expired air of indigenous cows contain some amounts of oxygen which is useful for human beings as well as for environment.
E/C: They have no such property. Their expired air have lot of carbon dioxide.
I: As indigenous cows are quite resistant, so the spread of zoonotic diseases like tuberculosis and brucellosis are less even though owner and cows live under same roof.
E/C: Exotic and crossbred animals are much susceptible to infections such as tuberculosis, mycoplasmosis, leptospirosis and several viral infections and also transmit them to human beings through their milk, urine, dung, contact and air.
Diagnosis of such diseases are quite difficult but surveys showed that most of such diseases spread from animal to man.
I: Indigenous cows are acclimatized according to environments. They are capable to produce lesser amount of carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and ammonia after digestion of feed and fodder.
E/C: They produce excessive amount of these harmful gases that destroys the ozone layer leading to green house effect. So these cows are harmful to our environment and are helpful in increasing the ultraviolet radiation on earth.
I: Different types of medicines are prepared from milk, curd, butter, ghee, urine and dung of indigenous cows, which are drug of choice for different incurable diseases.
E/C: Their products and by products do not have such properties.
I: Desi cows are kept for milk, calf and their products like cow urine, dung etc. and there is no need of oxytocin injections for let down of milk.
E/C: Exotic or crossbred cows are mainly kept for milk so oxytocin injections are frequently used to enhance the milk let down, which is hazardous for human health.
I: Desi cows are faithful towards owners, if there is any thief, smoke or wild animal they make a lot of sound to awaken their owner.
E/C: These cows do not have such property.
I: Desi cow’s urine is quite useful therefore, being added in Panchgavya and Panchamitra. Current studies showed that it enhances reproductive performance and immunity of our body.
E/C: There is no such property in their urine.
I: Desi cow’s dung protect houses from ultraviolet radiation. Many bacteria and microorganisms present in the dung which act as probiotics.
E/C: Dung of exotic or crossbred have no such property.
I: There are believes that tuberculosis can be treated by sleeping near to the desi cow and it also enhances the mental equilibria.
E/C: They transmitt a lot diseases to accompanying persons.
I: The urine and dung of grazing desi cows have many medicinal properties and dung of such cows are free from foul smell.
E/C: Their dung and urine have no medicinal property as they are fed on high concentrate ration so there is foul smell in their dung.
I: Desi cow dung is used to treat cholera bacteria infection.
E/C: Their dung has no such property.
I: Desi cow remain healthy and can survive and produce in unhygienic and contaminated environment.
E/C: Exotic and crossbred cows show good production performance in hygienic and sanitary conditions but under poor hygiene, death rate and infertility increases.
I: Management of desi cow is quite easy and cheap.
E/C: Management of exotic and crossbred is quite complex and expensive.
Many of these characters of desi and exotic/crossbred cows are scientifically proven and some are under investigation. Information mentioned in this paper is based on scientific experiences and studies. Some of them have found places in journals and books, many more are still in the process, which require systematic and continued scientific investigation.