Hallikar is a native breed of cattle that has originated from the former princely state of Vijayanagar, a part of Karnataka. This breed is predominantly found in Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Bangalore, Kolar, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts of Karnataka. Hallikar is also known as the Mysore breed. It is said to be one of the best draught breeds of South India. Most of the current breeds found in South India have originated from the Hallikar, including the Amrit Mahal breed of cattle.
- This breed is best known for its draught capacity and its trotting ability.
- The colour of this breed range from gray to dark gray with deep shadings on the fore and hind quarters. They also sport light gray markings on the face, dewlap and under the body.
- These animals are medium sized and muscular, and have prominent and seemingly bulging foreheads.
- Their bodies are long and compact with long and slender legs.
- Their faces are long and taper towards the muzzle, the colour of which ranges from grey to black.
- They have long, vertical and backward bending horns.
- The males have comparatively large humps.
- These animals have thin and moderately developed dewlaps.
- The sheath is very small and tucked up with the body.
- The tail is fine with a black switch reaching a little below the hocks.
- The adult males and females weight around 340 and 227 kgs respectively.
- The age at first calving ranges from 915 to 1,800 days.
- The lactation milk yield averages to around 540 kgs and the fat content averages to about 5.7%.
- The length of lactation averages to about 285 days and the average calving interval is around 600 days.
The Hallikar is one of the two breeds of cattle that has received the royal patronage and care from the princely state of Mysore. The bulls of this breed of cattle are known for their strength and endurance and are mainly used for draft purposes.
The Hallikar cattle are bred both by professional breeders and cultivators. A few families in each village have been breeding these cattle for generations. In order to develop this breed, the State of Karnataka has undertaken a policy of selective breeding. In Turuvekere (in Hassan District), the Government farm has a herd of Hallikar bulls and cows. Also in Hesaraghatta, the Government has maintained nearly 15 Hallikar bulls. The cattle are maintained in a semi-intensive management system by professional breeders.
It is note-worthy that in the year 2000, the Government of India – Department of Posts commemorated the Hallikar breed of cattle by releasing a postage stamp in its name.