Expressing concern over the sale of large numbers of calves, R.Rathinagiri, president, Tamil Nadu Livestock Welfare Society, said selling calves would have a telling effect on cattle wealth.

Nearly 1,500 cattle are traded at the weekly shandy at Vadakku vasal in Thanjavur, every Friday. Come Friday, lorries and vans arrive at the shandy and carry the animals to other States, particularly Kerala.

Price of the cattle is still decided in the traditional way, where the buyer holds onto the fingers of the seller under a towel.

Rs.200 incentive

While most of the cattle are purchased for meat, cattle are also purchased for domestic use . But a worrying feature is the sale of large number of calves which are brought for sale due to the inability of farmers to rear them.

Expressing concern over the sale of large numbers of calves, R.Rathinagiri, president, Tamil Nadu Livestock Welfare Society, said selling calves would have a telling effect on cattle wealth.

A farmer from Urnipuram village near Thanjavur, who brought his calf to the shandy said that he had to sell the calf as he had two more to tend to and he doesn't have the resource to maintain all of them. According to Rathnagiri, sale of calves can be prevented by giving incentive or subsidy of Rs.200 per calf to poor farmers to maintain them. Women self help groups can be trained in maintaining cattle.

Veterinary centres

Veterinary centres and veterinary sub-centres in villages can train them. Thanjavur cattle shandy has been in existence since 1942 at Vadakku vasal. Steps can be taken by the municipality and district administration for organising the shandy properly. Lorries and vans move haphazardly after loading the cattle. Vehicle parking can be separated from the trading site.

A farmer who came to the shandy on Friday said that he lost his cow a few days back and he has come to the shandy in the hope of finding it as stolen cows are brought to the shandy for sale.

Rathnagiri said every year 60 lakh cattle are taken from Tamil Nadu to other States, the majority for meat. The population of cattle in Tamil Nadu is 2.41 crore.