The Punganur Cow – India’s Shortest Humped Cattle Breed
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently fed Punganur cows from Andhra Pradesh at his Delhi residence on the Pongal/Makar Sankranti festival. These indigenous cattle have unique characteristics.
Origins and Features
The Punganur is a dwarf breed native to parts of Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema region. They are considered the world’s shortest humped cattle. Their small size allows easy household rearing.
Punganur cows can be white, gray, light brown or dark brown. They have small, crescent-shaped horns of 10-15 cm length that often curve backward on males and sideways on females. Females also have slightly longer horns.
By 2012, Punganur numbers had dwindled to less than 3,000 heads across India. However, focused conservation efforts have increased their population.
The 2019 Livestock Census recorded 13,275 Punganur cattle, up from just 2,828 in 2012. Most are found in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana through government breeding and promotion programs. The Centre has also allocated funds to establish special breeding centers in these states.
Despite their small size, Punganur are valued for higher milk yields compared to other Indian cattle. Their milk has high fat and SNF content.
Additionally, Punganur cattle are known for their docile nature, disease resistance and low fodder requirement – making them an efficient livestock choice for small and marginal farmers.
Wider Native Cattle Conservation
Beyond Punganur, the Andhra Pradesh and central governments have undertaken various initiatives to conserve other native Indian cattle breeds at risk of extinction.
Strengthening India’s indigenous livestock diversity holds crucial economic, cultural and environmental importance – especially amidst changing climate scenarios.