If the Gir breed has been at centre of attraction amid government’s focus on indigenous bovine, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is also pushing its lesser-known cousin for farmers in Vidarbha and Marathwada.
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Source: Shimbhuistock

The Rathi breed from Bikaner in Rajasthan may not have got all the limelight as the Gir, but the NDDB feels that it may be better suited for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. Both the areas are arid giving a perfect climactic condition for the breed.

As there is a mandate to boost Indian breeds, Rathi was found to be more adaptable to the climate of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, said a source and added that both the areas have dry climates and open grazing land for summers.

It began with an experiment with three cows brought from Bikaner to villages in Amravati and Wardha districts in 2018. After the initial success, 200 cows were procured for private farms in Nagpur and Amravati through NDDB’s help.

“The results have been encouraging so far. One of the cows has yielded average 8.3 litres milk and another has over seven litres. The peak output has touched 15 to 16 litres too. This is good enough for a medium yield animal and better than the local cows,” the source said.

The breed has been covered for induction under the Vidarbha Marathwada Dairy Development Plan. With this, farmers buying the breed can get 25% subsidy.
The Gir from Saurashtra region has become a brand name these days. The breed is being pushed as a source of A2 milk by brands. Though experts deny the A2 and A1 milk theory.

With its unique features like red coat, round head and turning horns, the Gir breed has also become a fad among many enthusiasts amid the hype over indigenous bovine. “On other hand, the Rathi breed has flat forehead, short horns and a straight face. They are usually in complete black or brown coat with patches,” said the NDDB source.

The Gir has been in Vidarbha with the migrant herdsmen from Saurashtra settled here since decades. “The cow may be found here but the breed may perform well in humid climates like coastal area of Saurashtra. Rathi is used in arid pocket. Though there is no bias against Gir too,” said the official.

The state government runs a centre on conserving the Gaolao breed which is native to Vidarbha in Wardha.

State’s animal husbandry minister Sunil Kedar finds the Saanen goat, a Swiss breed, as a means to beef up farmers’ income. A project to import the livestock and breed them in Maharashtra has been mooted. Since it allows imports of livestock, an approval from Centre is awaited, said a source.

Activist Sajal Kulkarni stresses focus should be on the local breeds found in different districts. Some have not been registered too. Along with cows, buffalo breeding also needs some attention.

Australians are being warned of another price hike, with the cost of milk set to go up.

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