Sahiwal is a breed of Zebu cattle which primarily is used in dairy production. Sahiwal originated from the Sahiwal district of Punjab province in Pakistan. They produce the most milk of all zebu breeds, followed by the very similar Red Sindhi and Butana breeds. Sahiwal is considered one of the indigenous cow breed of Punjab and under the ‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ incentives are given to rear this endangered breed.
This cow breed can be found in many countries of Asia. The main characteristics of sahiwal cow are described below.
- They are of medium sized on an average.
- Color of their body is coppery.
- They are very long and high in size.
- Dewlap, ears and umbilicus are hanging.
- They have big hunchback.
- Dewlap is very big sized.
- Surrounded skin of umbilicus become thick and slack.
- Head is short in size and the forehead is elevated.
- Horns are small in size but thick.
- Udder is big sized and hanging.
- Tail of sahiwal cow is very long. About to touch the ground.
- Adult ox weights about 400-500 kg and cow 700-800 kg.
- Heifer takes about 3-3.5 years to produce calf for the first time.
- Cow gives about 12-15 kg milk daily and 3000-4000 kg annually.
- The calf weights about 22-28 kg when they born.
- Milk of sahiwal cow contain 4.5% fat.
Fig. 1: Sahiwal Calf
The Sahiwal originated in the dry Punjab region which lies along the Indian-Pakistani border. They were once kept in large herd by professional herdsmen called “Junglies”. However with the introduction of irrigation to the region they began to be kept in smaller numbers by the farmers of the region, who used them as draft and dairy animals.
Fig. 2: Sahiwal Cow
The Sahiwal is one of the best dairy breeds in India and Pakistan. It is tick-resistant, heat-tolerant and noted for its high resistance to parasites, both internal and external. Cows average 2270 kg of milk during a lactation while suckling a calf and much higher milk yields have been recorded. Due to their heat tolerance and high milk production they have been exported to other Asian countries as well as Africa and the Caribbean. As oxen they are generally docile and lethargic, making them more useful for slow work. Their color can range from reddish brown through to the more predominant red, with varying amounts of white on the neck, and the underline. In males the color darkens towards the extremities, such as the head, legs and tails.
The Sahiwal is the heaviest milker of all Zebu breeds and display a well developed udder. Sahiwals demonstrate the ability to sire small, fast-growing calves and are noted for their hardiness under unfavorable climatic conditions.
Fig. 3: Sahiwal Bull
Sahiwal is considered to be one of the best milch cattle breed of India. The breed derives its name from Sahiwal area in Montgomery district of Punjab in Pakistan. These animals are also known as “Lambi Bar”, “Lola”, “Montgomery”, “Multani” and “Teli”. The animals are very good for specialized dairy purpose. The breeding tract of the breed is Ferozepur and Amritsar districts of Punjab and Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. Good herds of pure Sahiwal cattle are available around Fazilka and Abohar towns of Ferozepur district in Punjab. The cows are brownish red in colour; shades may vary from a mahogany red brown to more greyish red. Extremities in bulls are darker than rest of body colour. Occasionally there are white patches. Animals have well developed udder, good slope at rump and shorter horns. Dewlap is medium in size. Average lactation yield of Sahiwal cows is 2325 kilo grams. The lactation yield ranges from 1600 to 2750 Kg. However, selected herds may have higher productivity. Milk yield as high as 6000 lit has been recorded under organized farm conditions. Considering the merit of this breed, Sahiwal animals were imported by Australia and were used in developing a synthetic crossbred called Australian Milking Zebu (AMZ) cattle.
A large herd of Sahiwal cows is maintained by National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal in Haryana. There are some Gaushalas maintaining Sahiwal animals in Punjab and Rajasthan.