Malnad Gidda – The desi cow
India is blessed with diverse cow breeds. The Malnad Gidda is a dwarf variety of cattle native to the hilly regions of the Western Ghats. This breed is also called by alternate names like Uradana, Malenadu Gidda, and Varshagandhi. The breed is well-known for its dwarf stature, and small size. The major breeding tract of this desi cow breed includes few districts of Karnataka like Dakshin Kannada, Udupi, Chikmagalur, Kodagu, Hassan, Shimoga, and Uttar Kannada. The most common color of this breed is black. Both the bulls and cows bear small straight horns. The bulls bear small hump.
Despite physically small, this breed is quite adaptable to environmental conditions like heavy rains prevailing in its native belt. Malnad gidda is a tough cow breed with high endurance towards diseases and climatic turbulence. The most notable fact about this desi cow is its minimum food requirement, which can be solely maintained by grazing in the forest terrain or the rural pasture land. The low-cost and minimal labor for the maintenance of this breed has made it the ideal cow breed to domesticate.
The Malnad Gidda is the most popular cow breed being domesticated in its native breeding tract. This desi cow breed plays an important role in the rural economy as a multipurpose cattle breed. The small size and easy maintenance has made this breed as the popular domestic cow in its native breeding tract. But the dwindling pasture land and migration of rural population to the cities in search of employment have forced many traditional families to give up the domestication of cattle during the last few decades. Due to this reason, Malnad gidda is almost on the verge of the status of endangered breed of cows, as the total population of this race is only 8-10 Lakhs.
Both the milk and urine of the Malnad Gidda are proven to be of medicinal value. This breed is used as draught cattle and also for milk production. Good cows of this breed produce 3-5 L of milk per day. While considering the nutritional and medicinal values of the milk, the small quantity of the milk production by these cows can be compensated. If maintained well Malnad gidda can provide enough milk for a family and the maintenance is much cheaper when compared to other high milk yielding cow breeds. This factual consideration of the advantages of this breed needs to be advocated among the rural families for enhancing the domestication of this cow breed in order to raise its total population.