The Pulikulam is a popular draught and game breed of Tamil Nadu. The cattle originated from Pulikulam, a village located in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. Though named after its village of origin, it is also known as Palingu maadu, Mani maadu, Jallikattu maadu, Mattu maadu and Kilakattu maadu. It breeding tracts are found in the Madurai, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar districts of Tamil Nadu. The bulls are used for breeding for up to 10 years of age. Life span of the animals is around 20 years, with a total calving of 8-10. Milking is usually done only in 10-15% lactating cows in a herd, so as to meet the home consumption of herdsmen.
This breed of cattle is famous for a local game called Jalikattu where bulls are used as a bull-taming sport. This breed has been included in the list of recognized cattle breeds of India only in the year 2012, though it has been documented by the state government in its gazettes for the last 100 years.
- These are small in size, with compact, strong and active body and short legs.
- The face is narrow with a dark head, and tight skin.
- Males are dark grey while females are generally white or grey.
- White markings can be found on the forehead, limbs and tail.
- The forehead is broad and prominent with a groove at the centre.
- They have extended horns that are curved outward, upward, backwards and then inward, ending with sharp pointed tips spaced wide apart.
- The ears are small and pointed.
- The muzzle, eyelids, tail switch and hooves are black.
- The hump is dark, large in males and small in females.
- The dewlap is thick.
- The penis sheath flap is very small.
- They have strong legs and feet and are trained for running events.
- The udder of the cow is not well-developed.
- Height of the male averages at 117 cms., and that of the female at 112 cms.
- Body length of the male averages at 119 cms., and of the female at 114 cms.
- Body weight of the male averages at 259 kgs., and that of the female at 208 kgs.
- Average chest girth of a male is 150 cms and that of the female is 139 cms.
- Cows are poor milkers; and milk yield ranges from 0.5 to 3 kg per day with an average yield of about 1.25 kg per day.
- Average age at first calving is 4 to 4.5 years.
- Calving interval of 1.5 to 2 years.
The Pulikulam breed of cattle are maintained as migratory herds, and its draught and manure capabilities play a significant role in the rural livelihood of the communities rearing them for draught and organic agricultural production. Almost ninety-nine per cent of the Pulikulam cattle is bred and maintained by the traditional cowherds – mainly the Konar and Thevar communities.
There has been an alarming decrease in the population of this breed. The year 2006 figures show a population of about 45000 whereas the year 2013 figures show a population of about 7500. Efforts to conserve this Indian breed should be stepped up though SEVA (Sustainable agriculture and Environmental Voluntary Action) – an institution specialising in conservation of native cattle breeds – in Madurai has been striving over the years for the protection of our native cattle breeds.
Our Surabhivana has accelerated its movement of conserving our native Indian breed of cattle.