Native Wayanad cow faces threat of oblivion
Vellamunda: The native Wayanad cow seems the next lined up to face the threat of extinction among the indigenous cattle varieties. The cow, slightly taller than the Kasargod Dwarf variety, is known for its high resistance to weather vagaries, tremendous strength, low cost of maintenance and high fat content milk.
The variety was a favourite among both the tribes and others as these hoofed creatures could negotiate steep slopes and difficult terrains with utmost ease. The traditional pattern of grazing on fields is enough to keep them healthy and no cattle feed is required. The animal also has a place of importance in the ayurvedic stream of medicine where its milk and urine are considered to be of medicinal quality.
These small-horned animals are known for their high endurance and adaptability and give enough milk to support a family. Even though the quantity produced is less the milk is of high fat content and makes excellent quality ghee.
The downfall of the native breeds started when dairy farming became commercial. As a first step many farmers initiated cross breeding of the natives with sperm imported from Gujarat. Thereafter when the milk quantity failed to improve they shunned the native breeds altogether and moved to the hybrid varieties. As of now the native variety is found only amongst some of the tribals.
With dwindling numbers it is now a common sight to see medicinal companies and individuals approach the tribes for the milk and urine of the native breed. Their search ends in places like Muthanga where the native cows are protected by the tribes in good numbers.
As in Palekar's low cost agriculture techniques, while the byproducts from dairy farming like urine and dung are becoming the mainstay of organic agriculture, another native variety is at risk owing to ignorance and lack of initiative.