Cattle are domesticated hoofed animals. They are assets to small and minor farmers. Cattle help farmers to earn farm revenue through the milk they generate. Indian cattle species (like cows, bulls and oxen) are known for their toughness and immunity towards tropical diseases. Cows and buffaloes provide milk. Cattle are in great demand, internationally which have encouraged steps to improve cattle breed. For yielding more milk, embryo transfer technology is being applied in an extensive way. Also, artificial insemination centers have been established all over the country. In 1951, there were about 155 million cattle and 43 million buffaloes in India. With about 205 million cattle, India alone accounts for one sixth of the world's total cattle population. With about 84 million buffaloes, India accounts for about 55 percent of the world's total number of buffaloes, as per the 1992 animal census. In 1950, milk production was about 17 million tones, which increased to 71 million tonnes by 1997. India ranks second in the world in milk production, next to U.S.A.
Uttar Pradesh is the leader in cattle rearing and is followed by the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Bulls and buffaloes are chosen from Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Surti and Murrah buffaloes from Gujarat and Punjab respectively, are well-known in India. The kankrej variety of cattle dates back to the Mohenjodaro and Harappa days. Other breeds of cattle include Sahiwal and Nagora from Haryana and Rajasthan and Halliker and Khillar from south India.
Sheep in India is a source of somewhat inferior quality of wool. Wool production is low in the country, that is, less than one kilogram per head. The 1982 livestock census calculated the total number of sheep to be above 48 million in the world. However, India's share in the world is very low, that is, 4 percent. Over 20,000 merino sheep for excellent wool have been imported to India. Sheep with basic quality wool are reared in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. But sheep with delicate quality wool are reared in western Himalayas, more specifically, in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
About 10 million pigs are reared in India. Pork is obtained from pigs. Pig rearing is increasingly gaining momentum in the animal husbandry sector in India. Generally landless and poor farmers, uneducated and unemployed youth and people engaged in agriculture rear pigs. This auxiliary profession needs little investment in infrastructure and equipment and results in profitable outcome for the farmers. 28 percent of the total pig population in India is farmed in north east India. Landrace, hampshire, large white yorkshire, duroc and other native breeds of pigs are found in India. Recently numerous techniques have been adopted to prevent deadly diseases which spread from pigs like swine fever. Pigs are vaccinated every fortnight.
Goats, also known as a ‘poor man's cow’ are found in abundance in India. More specifically, they are found in Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. They account for one sixth of the world's total goat count.
Branches of Animal Husbandry in India
Apart from animals, birds are also raised for their products. Poultry involves raising and management of domesticated birds. It has acquired importance in farm economy and in the Indian diet. Yearly production of eggs was less than two billion in 1950-1951. It increased to 28 billion by 1996-1997. Broiler production, which was virtually unknown till 1961 increased to 80 million birds during 1986-1987. Ducks are also bred on an enormous scale. The yearly production of meat obtained from various species has crossed the one million tonne mark. Aquaculture or farming of aquatic organisms is also prevalent in India.
Other Animals as Part of Animal Husbandry in India
India has about 2 percent of the world's total population of horses, ponies and mules. Camels and yaks are other domestic animals in India.