What are the data captured in the Livestock census? What are the findings of the recent livestock census report?

Published: October 21, 2019

The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying has released the results of the latest livestock census which provides headcount data of domesticated animals in the country.

India has been conducting livestock censuses periodically since 1919-20. This is the 20th one and the last livestock census was conducted in 2012.

Data Captured

  • The livestock census counts the various species of animals possessed by households, household enterprises or non-household enterprises and institutions at the site both in rural and urban areas.
  • The census covers all domesticated animals in a given period of time.
  • The census tracks the population of various species of domesticated animals such as cattle, buffalo, mithun, yak, sheep, goat, pig, horse, pony, mule, donkey camel, dog, rabbit and elephant and poultry birds (fowl, duck, emu, turkeys, quail and other poultry birds).
  • The census also counts breed-wise headcount of animals and poultry birds has been carried out in about 6.6 lakh villages and 89,000 urban wards across the country covering more than 27 crore households and non- households.

Findings of the latest Census

  • In 2019, the total livestock population is 535.78 million. Cattle (192.90 million) is the largest animal group in the country followed by goats (148.88 million), buffaloes (109.85 million), sheep (74.26 million) and pigs (9.06 million).
  • All other animals taken together contribute just 0.23 per cent of the total livestock population in the country.
  • The total livestock population has registered a growth of 4.6 per cent over the last census in 2012.
  • The numbers of some animals such as pig, yak, horses and ponies, mule, donkey and camel have come down drastically.
  • The cattle population has grown marginally by 0.83 per cent and the buffalo population by 1.06 per cent.
  • The populations of sheep (14.13%), goat (10.14%) and mithun (26.66%) have risen significantly. This increase underlines the preference of farmers for keeping milch animals.
  • The population of indigenous cattle has come down by 6 per cent. The decrease is attributed to the continuous fall in productivity. This decreasing productivity of indigenous breeds of cattle has become liabilities for farmers, forcing them to desert the unproductive cows.
  • The decrease in indigenous breeds could have long term health and environmental impacts because the milk of indigenous breed has higher nutritional value than that of crossbreeds. Also, there is a danger of losing these indigenous breeds, which have been developed and sustained by generations from time immemorial.
  • West Bengal has emerged as the state with the largest number of cattle in 2019 (Chart 2), followed by Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Tamil Nadu is the leading state in poultry population followed by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Haryana, Kerala and Odisha.

The important takeaway from the census is a decline in the indigenous cattle population and the cow belt of the country shifting eastwards with West Bengal emerging as a state with the largest cattle population, leaving behind Uttar Pradesh.

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