Extra endeavours are being taken to improve cattle breed, primarily for yielding more milk. Embryo transfer technology is now being applied in an extensive way. Artificial insemination centres have been established all over the country.
With 205 million cattle India alone accounts for l/6th of the world’s total cattle population. And 84 million buffaloes in India constitute 55% of the world’s total number of buffaloes, as per the 1992 animal census. In 1951, their figure was 155 million cattle and 43 million buffaloes.
Milk production was 17 million tonnes in 1950. It had risen to 71 million tonnes by 1997. India stands 2nd in the world, next only to the U.S.A. in milk production. Within a short period of time, it will overtake U.S.A. in milk production.
Uttar Pradesh stands as the leader in cattle rearing, and is toed closely by Madhya Pradesh. The states of Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh line up closely, in that order. But the choicest bulls and buffaloes are from Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat.
Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, from its breeds, Surti and Murrah buffaloes from Gujarat and Punjab respectively are well-known. The kankrej variety of cattle dates back to the Mohenjodaro and Harappa days. The other breeds include Sahiwal and Nagora from Haryana and Rajasthan and Halliker and Khillar from the south.
The 1982, livestock census calculates their total number at above 48 million. However, India’s share in the world is among the lowest—a mere 4%. Indian sheep yields somewhat inferior quality wool and their production is also low. It comes to less than one kilogram per
The total production of wool was 44,000 tonnes. Over 20,000 choicest merino sheep for excellent wool have been imported to improve the types of Indian sheep. Sheep of crude quality wool are reared in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. But sheep with delicate quality wool are reared in western Himalayas, i.e., in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
Known as “poor man’s cow”, goats are more plentiful in India, particularly in Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. They account for l/6th of the world’s total count.
India’s percentage of horses, ponies and mules is quite low—just 2% of the world’s total. Camels and yaks are the other domestic animals in India.
Though of old interest, poultry has lately acquired respectable importance—both in farmer’s economy and in the Indian diet, both of which have stayed underprivileged for long. Yearly production of eggs was less than two billion in 1950-51. It had risen to 28 billion by 1996-97.
Broiler production, virtually unknown till 1961, had risen to 80 million birds during 1986-87. Duck are also now bred on an enormous scale. The yearly production of meat of various species has traversed the one million tonne mark. Its export had earned Rs. 1925 crore of rupees in 1996-97. Pork is gained from 10 million pigs reared in the country.
For taking reasonable care of the health of livestock, considerable numbers of veterinary hospitals and dispensaries have been established.