Bringing ‘Attappady Black’ back from the brink

‘Poor man’s cow’: The ‘Attappady Black’ goat.

‘Poor man’s cow’: The ‘Attappady Black’ goat.  

G. Prabhakaran

The Kerala Livestock Development Board has undertaken a project to set up a germplasm centre of this unique goat breed which is facing extinction.

PALAKKAD: The ‘Attappady Black’ goat, reared in the hill tracts of the district by tribal people, is under serious threat of extinction. The breed, known as the ‘poor man’s cow,’ is highly resistant to diseases and can adapt to extreme climatic conditions.

A recent survey by Kerala Agricultural University found that the population of the goat has come down drastically. Now, they number just 5,595. So the Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) has taken up a conservation project to save this breed, says its Managing Director Ani S. Das.

The objectives of the project are to “identify the best Attappady Black goats in their native tract and establish an elite germplasm centre of this goat breed as a genetic insurance against future calamities.”

Retaining purity

The project will encourage the tribes to retain the breed’s purity to conserve its unique characters. Selected bucks of the variety will be distributed for the purpose. Frozen semen of superior Attappady Black bucks will be distributed in their native tracts and in other parts of Kerala. Higher cost of labour has made goat farming increasingly difficult on ‘zero input’ or ‘low input’ basis, Dr. Das said.

The project report says the “wisdom of the tribes who have evolved the sturdy indigenous goat is beyond doubt. They have very intelligently combined the characteristics of meat production, hardiness, disease-resistance and survivability without laying much emphasis on individual productivity.

This goat is found only in the remote hamlets of Pudur, Agali and Sholayur panchayats, which have scanty vegetation. When food is limited, these animals are good at adapting to the available fodder.

The animals are black in colour with bronze-coloured eyes.

The goat has cultural values too. The wealth of a tribal family is measured by the number of goats reared in the house. Many times, they are gifted to newly married couples. They believe that milk and meat of these goats possess medicinal values.

To a certain extent, the milk and meat of the goat act as a bulwark against malnutrition in these remote areas.

The high price of ‘chevon’ (goat meat) in the market has inspired many farmers to go in for indiscriminate breeding of goats. Very little efforts are being made to select superior Attappady Black goat for breeding. If this trend persists, the future will be bleak for the Attappady Black, Dr. Das sums up.

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