Purnea /Red Purnea cattle is a distinct indigenous breed, distributed in the entire district of Purnea and the adjoining Araria and Katihar districts of Bihar. Most of its breeding tract has sandy soil deficient in micro-nutrients, with water logging condition. These cattle are naturally bred, and are resistant to diseases.
Purnea cattle which exist in grey and red varieties, are not listed amongst the recognised breeds of cattle in India. Its estimated population is about 2.5 lakhs.
Purnea cattle are small to medium-sized animals. These are low milk yielders, and are extensively useful in agricultural operations and pulling loads. On an average, they work 7 to 8 hours a day and a pair of bullocks can plough an acre of land in approximately six hours.
The Purnea cattle are mostly provided housing sheds, or are kept in front of the farmer’s house or under shades of nearby trees. Almost 70% of the cattle are stall-fed with straws from paddy, wheat and maize that are cultivated locally. These are rarely fed with green fodder or any type of concentrate. The remaining 30% are allowed for community grazing.
- These are small to medium-sized, with compact body.
- They exist in two different varieties – red coat colour and also light to dark grey coat colour. The red coat colour is throughout the body with varying red colour while the grey coat colour has dark grey to black colour coat in head, neck and shoulder regions while the remaining areas are light grey in colour.
- The horns are small to medium in size, oriented laterally and slightly forward.
- The body trunk is diminutive in length, and legs compactly fit with the body.
- The forehead is slightly concave; the muzzle, eyelashes and hooves are black.
- The nasal bridge is flat and the face is medium to long in length.
- The dewlap is small in females and medium-sized in males.
- The hump is small in females and medium to large-sized in males.
- The tail is long with a black switch.
- The udder is small and round in shape.
- The teats are short and tube-shaped.
- These are low milk-yielders with the average peak yield of 2.9 litres.
- Height averages at 130 cms. for males and 108 cms. for females.
- Body length averages at 118 cms. for males and 102 cms. for females.
- Body weight averages at 247 kgs. for males and 180 kgs. for females.
- Average chest girth is 154 cms. for males and 140 cms. for females.
- Age at first calving is about 42 months and calving interval about 15 months.
- Daily milk yield is around 2 ltrs. with lactation length of 8 months.
Selective breeding may be the best tool for genetic improvement of this breed of cattle. There is considerable variation in the milk production among Red Purnea cows which could be exploited for further development of the cattle in order to enhance the milk productivity. Strategies for genetic improvement of the cattle are being undertaken. However so far, this breed has not been registered under the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR).