Sahiwal is a medium heavy type of dual-purpose breed, indigenous to Pakistan and India. This breed originated from the Sahiwal district of Pakistan, in the dry Punjab region that lies along the India-Pakistan border. In India, it is mostly found in Rohtak, Karnal, Hissar, Gurgaon district of Haryana, the Union Territory of Delhi and in West Uttar Pradesh. Amongst all the breeds, Sahiwal is found to produce the largest quantity of milk and hence is primarily used for diary production.
- These animals have small heads with long and narrow faces from which emerge short and almost horizontal horns. In the bullocks, the horns grow longer and curve upwards and inwards.
- Their ears are long and drooping and set behind and in level with the eyes.
- They are heavily built with sturdy and long legs and well-shaped hoofs.
- Their barrel is long and compact and their tail is thin and short.
- Their colours range from reddish brown to more predominant red, with varying amounts of white on the neck and the underline. In males, the colour darkens towards the extremities, such as towards the head, legs and tail.
- As oxen, they are generally docile and lethargic, making them more useful for slow work.
- The males have big humps with an average height of 136 cms at the withers while the females have an average height of 120 cm at the withers.
- These cattle are tick-resistant because their skins naturally keep quivering. They are also parasite resistant, heat-tolerant and are known to be drought-resistant.
- They are heavy milk producers and have well developed udders.
- Milk yield is 1500-2200 litres per lactation with a fat content of only 4.5 % and average lactation length is 235 days.
- Adult males weigh 400-500 kg, while females weigh 300 to 350 kg. Males having body weight of more than 1000 kg have also been documented.
- They have an ability to sire small, fast-growing calves.
- They are known for their good temperament and their hardiness under unfavorable climatic conditions.
- Their average age at first calving is 45 months, service period is 155 days and dry period is 205 days.
- Their average calving interval is 440 days and gestation period is 285 days.
The Sahiwal breed’s adaptability is also well documented in several ecological zones of Africa where they have been crossed with other exotic breeds. On account of its distinguished characteristics, this breed is exported to a wide range of countries and regions like the Caribbean, Africa and other Asian countries
Over the years, the number of pure bred Sahiwal cattle has been dwindling. The Punjab Government has formed the “Sahiwal Cattle Society” to propagate the native breed of Punjab “Sahiwal.” The society is firm in its motto of propagating Sahiwal Cattle Breed.
Let us also align ourselves towards this noble cause of conservation and propagation of our “desi” breeds of cows.