Amrit Mahal breed of cattle belongs to the State of Mysore in Karnataka. Amrit Mahal has a majestic appearance. People refer them as the mighty Amrit Mahal with swords for horns. They originate from the Hallikar breed which was cross-bred with Hagalavadi and Chithradurg.
In mid 1800,the rulers of the erstwhile Mysore State developed Amrit Mahal breed. The breed was to suit the local area. The bullocks were classified as gun bullocks, pack bullocks, etc. to transport war equipment. Amrit Mahal means the department of milk. Unfortunately these cows being poor milk-yielders, are instead classified as draught breed.
- Amrit Mahal cattle has a colour of various shades of gray. These shades vary from white to black with white-gray markings on the face and dewalp. The muzzle, feet and tail switch are generally black, but lighter in older animals.
- A well shaped head which is long and tapering towards the muzzle.
- The forehead bulges out slightly and is narrow and furrowed in the middle.
- The horns emerge from the top of the head. The horns are fairly close together in an upward and backward direction. They terminate in sharp black points.
- The eyes have bloodshot appearance.
- The ears are small, in horizontal position, yellow inside and taper to a point.
- The dewlap is thin and does not extend very far.
- The sheath and navel flap are very small and close to the body.
- The hump is well-developed and shapely in the bulls, with about 8 inches height.
- The body is compact and muscular with well-formed shoulders and hindquarters.
- The neck is strong and fairly long, back is level, with broad loins and level rump.
- The legs are of medium length and well-proportioned.
- The fetlocks are short and the hooves are hard, close together and small.
- The skin is thin, mellow and jet black in colour, with short glossy hair.
- The average height of this breed is 50 to 52 inches.
- The average lactation yield is approximately 1000-1200 kilograms.
- The average calving interval is approximately 600 days.
Well-to-do cultivators and large breeders generally own Amrit Mahal cattle. and maintain herds in the vicinity of the hills with ample pastures for grazing. During the 19th Century, they grew popular on account of their great endurance and speed. These cattle show a wild disposition and are dangerous at times as they are maintained in the pasture areas without restrictions and handling. Once trained, they are extremely fine bullocks, and used particularly for quick transportation.
Bullocks have a working life of 7 to 8 years. Even though Amrit Mahal cattle has poor milking qualities, recently some attention has been paid to systematically milk these animals. The breed popular during the reign of Mysore rulers, is now on the verge of extinction. Small groups formed in villages protect this breed. Farmers farm the Kaval land to rear this breed of cattle.
Amrit Mahal cattle stand a class apart from the rest of the cattle for they maintain their stamina and health even after consuming meagre amount of food and also never express tiredness. Animal Husbandry Department has taken steps to preserve these varieties, and unfortunately it has not proved to be of great help.
Government should accelerate the efforts to preserve this breed and we, at Surabhivana whole-heartedly support this endeavour. May this breed flourish!