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Gir cattle: shining example of virtues of local breeds

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ROBUST NATURE: The animals have a big head with prominent bulging shield like forehead and a long face.
ROBUST NATURE: The animals have a big head with prominent bulging shield like forehead and a long face.

M.J. PRABU

The breed is known for its high milk yield and docile temperament

CROSS BRED cattle yield higher milk, but are difficult to maintain because they are prone to diseases, cannot be used as draught animals and their lactation reduces with each generation. On the other hand, indigenous breeds are fully adapted to Indian conditions, yield milk of a higher fat content and the bulls can be used as draught animals.One such cattle breed is the Gir cattle of Gujarat. The breed is known for its high milk production potential, heavy build and docile temperament.

Body size

The origin of the breed is in the Gir forest region and surrounding districts of Saurashtra region of Gujarat State. It is a moderate to large size breed. Cows weigh 400-475 kg and bulls 550-650 kg. The body colour is shining red to spotted white. Skin is soft, thin, and glossy. Occasionally animals which are predominantly white with red spots are also seen, according to Dr. J. V. Solanki, Dean, Veterinary College, Anand Agricultural University (AAU), Anand, Gujarat.The animals have comparatively large dewlap big head with prominent bulging - shield like (convex) forehead and a long face. The ears are long (like leaves of banyan a tree) and pendulous. The tail is long and slender. The udder is well developed.

Oestrus cycle

"The cows come to heat (oestrus) once in 21 days. The oestrus period lasts for 24 hrs with prominent oestrus signs, unlike in other breeds where the oestrus period can be detected only by trained farm hands or veterinary personal,: said Dr. Solanki. The cows are bred either by artificial insemination or natural service by stud bulls.

Gestation period

A well-fed Gir heifer can come to first oestrus around its 20-24 month and can have its first calf as early as of 36 months of age. Gestation period lasts for 280-285 days. After calving the animal gives milk for about 310 days. In a year, a cow gives milk for about 10 months. This breed does not have problems of short lactation, he noted.Many cows yield more than 12 lt of milk a day during peak milking time with a fat content of about 4.5 per cent. Gir cows live for 12-15 yrs. and can produce 6-10 calves. There are many cows that produce more than 12 calves during their lifespan. "The calf can be sold for Rs.7,000 to 10,000 after four years," he said. The cows are not susceptible to any infestation and have good general resistance to disease and mastitis.The animals are well adapted to hot and moderately humid climate. Bullocks are comparatively slow but have good draft power.

Animal feed

Farmers generally keep 2-4 cows. The cows can be fed with dry fodder, green jowar, bajra straw, groundnut cake, and a mixture of concentrate cake made of (ground nut cake and cotton seed cake).In an effort to preserve this breed a pure breeding programme has been implemented by the station progeny-testing programme at the cattle-breeding farm, Junagadh Agricultural University, Junagadh (Saurashtra). More than 12 batches of bulls have been tested and male progenies of the farm have been distributed to the surrounding villages, explained Dr. Solanki.The National Dairy Development Board, Anand has also launched breeding programmes for preserving this breed.Semen from Gir bulls is available at the Department of Animal Husbandry (A.I Station Rajkot) and Sabarmati Ashram Gaushala Project - Bidaj, P.O. Gujarat, Pin. 387 120.For further details contact Dr. J. V. Solanki, Dean, Veterinary College, Anand Agricultural University, Anand-388001, email: jvsolanki@aau.in, phone: 02692-261486.


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