Move over smartphones, clothes and books. The latest product on the online market is the cow.

Forums on the internet have been witnessing a recent surge in the sales of cows, with Tamil Nadu accounting for the largest number — 156 of the 291 recently-posted classified ads on popular forums, are for cows and buffalos from the State.

“Since we have had decent rainfall of late, the sale of cattle will only pick up, because of easy availability of fodder and water. Online advertising is useful as we get informed customers who give us the right price for our cattle,” said K. Vinod of Murugan Dairy Farm in Uppidamangalam, Karur district, who has been in the dairy business for 40 years, but has ventured into the online space only recently.

Many of Vinod’s recent customers have been professionals and businessmen settled in Chennai and other cities, who want to begin dairy farms on their ancestral agricultural land in various villages.

“With the export prices of meat and milk products going up, many well-off businessmen have turned to dairy farming as a side business. The internet is the best way to get in touch with them,” Vinod said.

Entire dairy farms have also been put up on sale. S. Parthasarathy who has been running one for 10 years now in Kumbakonam, has put his farm up for sale on a popular website. “The cattle business has not been doing well for the last two years, with cost of fodder increasing frequently. Barley is barely affordable now, and without the right kind of nutrition, the productivity of the cows has gone down,” he said.

Parthasarathy has one assistant and says he spends at least Rs. 125 on the six kg of feed required for each cow per day. “There are divisions among cows too, as they are classified according to their colour, size and breed. The black Holstein Friesians ones are considered the best and are the most expensive,” he said.

Up until recently, cattle were bought and sold at sandhai (cattle fair) held at frequent intervals across the State. For Parthasarathy, travelling with his cattle to Pollachi or Erode where the fairs were held, and a broker fee of Rs. 3,000 added up to quite a hefty cost.

“A lot of that need not be done now. Earlier, I didn’t know you could use the computer to advertise. My nephew put up the online ad, and in a week, I got five calls from interested people. Since the pictures and information have already been put up, they only want a scanned copy of the doctor’s certificate,” he added.

Ads showcasing a variety of breeds and prices, such as ‘soft natured, 6 months (3 litres during previous lactation) kangayam cow and calf – both can be sold individually – price Rs. 30,000’ or ‘Old Vehur cow – height is 75-87cm, small cow breed, needs less grass and water so small family manage. Gives 3 litres of milk, useful for medicine purpose and poojai purpose, Rs 700,’ are available on the internet.

Cow sellers say the sindhi and Jersey breeds are popular online and get sold quickly. “We keep posting ads about the high-yield cross-bred cows to intimate big farms in Tiruchi and Pudukottai because these animals need very good facilities,” said A. Karunakaran, who is from Vellore and now “arranges buyers for those who want to sell their cows.”

“The failure of the monsoon and the absence of water for irrigation over the years have forced many farmers in Vellore, Thiruthani and Arakkonam to begin buying and selling cattle for meagre profits. Many even post ads for others and earn a commission if the deal works out,” he said.