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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Livestock census hints at rise in cattle being abandoned

The livestock census gives a break-up of female cattle kept for milk purposes, referred to as milch cattle, into in-milk and dry animals.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2019 04:46 IST
Roshan Kishore
Roshan Kishore
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has released the key results of the 20th livestock census.
The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has released the key results of the 20th livestock census. (Reuters image)
         

The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has released the key results of the 20th livestock census. A comparison of the results with previous statistics shows that cattle population has increased in the country. However, a closer reading of the statistics suggests that there may have been some increase in cattle owners abandoning unproductive animals. The numbers also suggest that a ban on cattle slaughter could have led to an increase in the number of cattle being abandoned.

The livestock census gives a break-up of female cattle kept for milk purposes, referred to as milch cattle, into in-milk and dry animals. The dry animal category can include two kinds of animals; those temporarily dry and those past milk giving age for good. These figures are given for exotic/crossbreed and indigenous categories of cattle and buffaloes. In all three categories, the share of dry animals in total number of milch cattle has gone down compared to the 2012 livestock census. This is something which had not happened between the 2007 and 2012 livestock censuses.

 

The livestock census is conducted across households as well as non-households. According to the report of the 19th Livestock census, non-households include farm houses and institutions i.e. cooperative societies, trusts, temples, mosque, church, gurudwaras. This means that even animals living in registered cow-shelters are likely to be counted in the census.

The census has also given state-wise details for cattle population for some big states. Three out of four states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – which have experienced a decline in cattle population, had anti-cow slaughter laws passed in 2012 or after that. While cattle slaughter was banned when BJP governments came to power in Maharashtra (2014) and Uttar Pradesh (2017), the Madhya Pradesh government’s law to make the cow slaughter law more stringent received presidential sanction in 2012.

A decline in cattle population in states which banned cattle slaughter and a reduction in share of dry animals in total milch cattle suggests that people could be abandoning animals where it is difficult to dispose them in the market. This has caused disruption in cattle economy which may adversely impact farm incomes also, said Siraj Hussain, former secretary of agriculture and Visiting Senior Fellow ICRIER.