Punganur cattle originated from Punganur in Chittoor district, situated at the south-eastern tip of the Deccan Plateau in Andhra Pradesh, India. This breed was developed by the Rajas of Punganur and was used for milking and other light agricultural operations.
Punganur is perhaps the world’s smallest humped cattle breed. It is widely known as an efficient milch breed. It is also drought resistant and able to survive exclusively on dry fodder. The Punganur cow is said to have the grace of a deer and a beautiful walking style. It is considered auspicious to have this cow. These cows are said to receive cosmic energy at a higher magnitude and disseminate it all around. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has about 200 Punganur cows in its cattle-yard. Ghee prepared from the milk of these cows is in the ‘archana’ (offering) for Lord Venkateswara and for preparation of the famous Tirupati laddoos.
- This is a popular dwarf cattle breed.
- They have compact build, comparatively tight skin and extensively hanging dewlap.
- They are generally white, grey or light brown to dark brown in colour. White mixed with red or black colour are also available.
- The skin, muzzle, eyelids and hooves are black and they have concave and broad forehead.
- They have black, small and crescent shaped horns, slightly mobile and almost flat along the back which are normally at different heights from each other.
- Horns are stumpy in males and longer in females; horn length ranges from 10 to 15 cms.
- The back slopes downwards from front to the hind quarters.
- They have short legs and long body with well sprung ribs.
- They have tails that touch the ground; humps of small size in females and medium but drooping in males.
- The average height is about 70-90 cms and weight is around 115-200 kgs.
- The lactation milk yield is approximately 540 litres and lactation length is 260 days.
- The average milk fat content is 5 to 8 %.
- Their average daily feed intake is 5 kg.
- The bulls are more docile than the females.
It is a sad fact that this breed is on the verge of extinction. The decline of this pure Indian breed is mainly due to an earlier policy decision taken by the Government to “better” Indian cattle breeds by cross-breeding the Punganur with the Holstein-Friesian and Jersey cattle while banning the rearing of native bull breeds. The Punganur cattle are now being reared mainly on the Government Livestock Farm, Palamaner, Chittoor district, while a small informal group of private breeders are also working on reviving this revered species.
Surabhivana wholeheartedly supports this endeavor to preserve the Punganur breed of cattle.