Belahi is a ‘desi’ breed of cattle and are also known as Morni or Desi. It is a dual type cattle breed, reared for milk and draught by the Gujjar community in the foothills of Haryana. Belahi cow produces about 3.25 Kg milk per day. This breed is named after the term ‘Belaha’ – a term used to describe a mixture of colours. The breeding tract of Belahi lies in the foothills of Shivalik in Haryana State and includes Ambala, Panchkula, Yamunanagar districts of Haryana and Chandigarh.
These are hardy, enduring cattle, resistant to endo-ectoparasites and other contagious diseases and mastitis.
The Belari cattle are housed in the open during migration. During winter months when the cattle do not migrate, they are housed mostly in pucca houses. These cattle are exclusively kept on grazing. Only some of the milch cows are provided with concentrate feed at the time of milking. These cattle are kept in herds of hundreds of females with two to three bulls which are replaced every 3-4 years. The young calves are usually sold for agricultural purpose. Females, though kept in herd, are never sold. Because of high replacement of this cattle, its livestock strength is increases year after year.
- The cattle are medium-sized, symmetrical in stature, with a soft and tight skin.
- These have a uniform but distinct body colour pattern and are generally found in reddish brown, grey or white colours.
- The face and extremities are white and different degrees of white colour can be seen on ventral part of body.
- The head is straight, with slender face, broad forehead and a prominent poll.
- The horns are sickle shaped, curving upwards and inwards.
- The muzzle is black, and the dewlap is white and well-developed.
- The hump is small to medium in size and is more prominent in males as compared to females.
- The tail is long and fine with a black switch.
- The hooves are black or greyish in colour.
- The udder is medium, round shaped, properly placed with prominent milk vein.
- Height of the male averages at 131 cms., and that of the female at 120 cms.
- Body length of the male averages at 125 cms., and of the female at 117 cms.
- Body weight of the male averages at 305 kgs., and that of the female at 267 kgs.
- Average chest girth of a male is 163 cms and that of the female is 157 cms.
- Average milk yield per lactation is 1014 kgs.
- Average milk fat is around 5.25 %.
According to the last count, there are more than 20,000 cattle heads in the breeding tract where this breed needs conservation due to the continuous decline in pastures and water bodies in its native tract. The breed is under threat due to stray bulls of the breed particularly the exotic cow bulls during migration and non-resident halts. Nevertheless, the breeders are constantly maintaining the pure-bred animals.
The Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Haryana has launched the scheme for conservation and development of indigenous cattle (Gausamvardhan) 2017-18. The three-pronged purpose of the scheme is to identify top quality germplasm for sustainable genetic improvement, procurement of pedigreed young indigenous male calves for further supply in the State or Country and encouraging the farmer to rear better yielding Belahi cattle.
Surabhivana continues to conserve and develop our ‘desi’ breeds of cattle.