Owning a virile bull can land you in jail.

The Kerala Livestock Improvement (Amendment) Act, 1968, prescribes a nominal fine of Rs. 100 for keeping a non-castrated bull. If caught for the second time, the Act says the owner can be jailed up to one month or slapped with a fine up to Rs. 500 or both.

The law was introduced for supporting a project aimed at improving milk production in the State. It also aims to support the drive to create generations of high-yielding cross-bred cattle and prevent the propagation of undesirable breeds. The transfer of ownership of non-castrated bulls was also banned by the law.

The piece of legislation, originally passed in 1961, suggested that only castrated bull should be kept in the State and a licence should be obtained for keeping the castrated animal.

The licensing officer can also order any person keeping a bull to submit it for inspection by himself or by any officer or person deputed by him for the purpose. The refusal or failure of the owner of the bull to submit it for inspection is also a punishable offence.

The law also suggests that licence of the bull shall be revoked if it appears to be of “defective or inferior conformation and consequently likely to beget defective or inferior progeny.”

However, bulls dedicated to a mutt or temple “in accordance with any religious usage or custom and directly maintained by that institution” were exempted from the law.

Jose James, Managing Director, Kerala Livestock Development Board, felt the law had lost its relevance in the State as it had achieved the highest rate of artificial insemination for cattle in the country. Though the law had not been repealed, there was no information about anyone being punished by invoking the legislation, said Dr. James.

Oommen V Oommen, chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board, said law had resulted in genetic pollution of cattle breeds of Kerala.

It has hit the genetic diversity of Kerala cattle. He said the Board had initiated steps for conserving the Kerala’s cattle varieties such as Vechur, Kasaragod Dwarf and High Range Dwarf. It would extend financial support to projects for conserving the cattle breeds of Kerala, he said.

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