Deoni is a popular dual purpose cattle breed originating from the Marathwada region of Maharashtra as well as found in adjoining parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Variedly known as Dongari, Dongarpati, Surti or Deccani, As a matter of fact, this breed has evolved during the last two hundred years and is claimed to have been developed from a strain descended from the mixture of Gir, Dangi and the local cattle.
Erstwhile Nizam Kingdom considered Deoni to be the best milking variety. Deoni is not only tough and resistant,in addition constitutes an important cattle genetic resource of India. The bullocks are good for heavy work and consequently suitable for intensive cultivation. Empirical studies show that one pair of bullocks can pull the medium plough for about seven to eight hours a day and can plough about half an acre of land.
- Generally it has three colour variations viz. Wannera (clear white with black colour at the sides of the face), Balankya (clear white with black spots on the lower side of the body) and Shevera (white body with irregular black spots).
- The head is masculine, alert, broad and slightly convex. The colour of the head is black and white in Wannera and Shevera and completely white in the Balankya strain.
- Limbs are clean, straight and powerful with black symmetrical hooves.
- Forehead is prominent, broad, slightly bulged and white in all the strains.
- Ears are long, drooping with slightly curved tips and hair is soft and short.
- Horns are medium, thick, and apart, emerging from the sides with blunt tips.
- Eyes are prominent, bright and alert with black eyebrows and eyelashes.
- Hump is massive and well developed in males and small in females.
- Neck is short, strong and well developed and the chest is deep and wide.
- Dewlap is thick, pendulous, and muscular with folds, moreso in males than in females while the skin is thick and loosely attached to the body.
- Switch of the tail is black and white reaching below the lower leg joint.
- Udder is medium-size, with black, cylindrical and rounded teats.
- The bulls are characterized by blackish scrotum of a good size.
- Body weight averages –Bulls: 620 to 680 kg; Cows: 432 to 485 kg.
- Approx. length and height – Bulls: 129 and 134cms; Cows: 120 and 122cms
- Milk yield ranges between 880 and 1580 kgs in a lactation period of 300 days.
- Average fat content in the milk is approximately 4.3 percent.
- Average age at first calving is approximately 46 months.
- Service period and inter-calving period averaged 170 and 447 days.
The Deoni cattle are reared through grazing in fallow lands, dry lands or bunds of the farms. During the night, they are housed either in separate houses or in a part of the owner’s residence. The males of this breed are separated after 20 months of age and trained for agriculture operations. The calf and adult mortality of this breed is negligible and it is hardy and well adapted to tropical drought-prone areas.
Some time ago, the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU), established a livestock research and information centre at Bidar, equipped with qualified human resource and infrastructure. One of its aims is to breed and popularise the Deoni cattle breed. KVAFSU conducts genetic improvement through selective breeding in accordance with the national cattle breeding policy.