Animal Husbandry

Live stock plays a major role with rural economy of the District. More than 60% of the rural people depend upon Animal husbandry activities such as Dairy, Poultry, Goat rearing, Rabbit farm etc., for their daily income and livestock rearing is the way of life in rural areas. Hence, Animal husbandry forms the backbone of rural economy. In Tiruppur district, there are 45 number of veterinary dispensaries are available to protect the animal health care.

2. Kangayam Bull



Kangayam is one of the draught breeds of Tamilnadu reputed for its superior draught power, adaptation to poor nutrition and drought conditions and longevity. The breed derives the name from its home tract, viz. Kangayam taluk in Tiruppur district. The credit for evolving this breed goes to the then Pattagar of Palayakottai Mr.N.Nallathambi Sarkarai Manradiar and his family (Gunn, 1909; Littlewood, 1936; Pattabhiraman, 1958). The Government of Tamil Nadu (madras) also have taken steps to improve and popularize the breed since 1920s through various research and developmental programmes.

Earlier, the Kangayam bullocks were used for drawing water from deep wells, ploughing and transport. After the electrification of wells for irrigation the utility of Kangayam bullocks has declined considerably. Mechanisation of the other agricultural operations is yet another reason for the reduced demand for draught power. Now the bullocks are primarily used for transport of agricultural produce and in some areas of the breeding tract for transport of sand to the constructions sites.

The Kangayam bulls was used in Kerala as an improver breed of the non-descript cadre. It was exported to Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Brazil, the breed was specifically used to improve the characteristics and carcass quality of Nellore cattle, a well known beef cattle in that country. Further, a few registered Kangayam herds are maintained for multiplication and future use.

During the period between 1993-1997 a study was conducted by the Tamilnadu Veterinary and Animal Science University, Chennai with financial assistance from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi to collect information on the present habitat, distribution, performance and management practices and utility of Kangayam cattle. Most of the data presented is from the survey, though information’s from other sources have also been incorporated.

Habitat and distribution

The breeding tract of the Kangayam cattle is Kangayam, Udumalpet and Dharapuram of Tiruppur district and Perundurai, Erode and part of Gobichettipalayam taluks of Erode District; Palani and Vedasandar taluks of Dindigul district; Karur and Aravakurichi taluks of Karur district.

The population density of Kangayam cattle is more in Kangayam, Dharapuram, Perundurai, Palani, Karur and Aravakurichi taluks and less in other areas of the breeding tract. Animals true-to-type are seen in Kangayam, Dharapuram and Karur Taluks.

On the other hand, replacement of Kangayam cattle by exotic crosses is evident in Pollachi Taluks of Coimbtore District and Palladam, Udumalpet and Tiruppur Taluks of Tiruppur District and Erode Taluk of Erode District which were earlier known as part of the main breeding tract. In Pollachi, Palladam and Coimbatore taluks, kangayam cattle are so less that these areas cannot now be considered as the breeding tract. The replacement of the Kangayam by exotic crosses might be due to the effect of introduction of canal irrigation which generally results in change of land use pattern, increased availability of fodder and mechanization of agricultural operations.

Breed characteristics

The Kangayam is a medium-sized animal. Calves are generally red in colour at birth, with black markings over the coronets and fetlocks and sometimes on the knees. Inside the thighs and forelegs the colour is white. The red colour begins to change to grey at two to three months of age. Total grey colour is generally attained around six months.

In young males, darkening of the hump, fore and hindquarters of the body occurs between 18 and 24 months. Heifers are grey or white and grey in colour. The colour of the bull is grey with dark grey to black markings on the head, neck, hump. shoulders and quarters. After castration, the dark grey colour in different parts of the body of the bull changes to grey colour, Cows are grey or white an grey with black markings in fetlocks.

Forehead is broad and level with a shallow groove at the centre. Face is short and straight and ears are short and horizontal. Eyes are prominent, elliptical in shape with black eye lashes. Muzzle and horns are black in colour. In adults, the horns are longer, cruving outwards and backwards, then inwards and almost complete a circle or ellipse at the point where they approach the tips. The horn circumference is more throughout the length in bulls and bullocks than in cows.

The other notable characteristics of Kangayam are short and thick neck, deep and wide chest and well-developed hump. The barrel is compact, well-ribbed, and attached to medium stout legs. Loins are broad and hips wide apart with well developed wide thighs. A well tucked up sheath, thin short dewlaps, long tail and hard, small, black hooves are also characteristics of the breed. In cows the udder is not well developed and teats are fairly small and slender. The skin is black in colour and soft; the hairs are short, glossy and straight.


The climate of the tract is generally hot throughout the year except during north-east monsoon season (September-December). The mean maximum temperature of the tract various from 300 to 380 C, while the mean minimum temperature varies from 190 to 260 C. The mean annual rainfall is only 650 mm received in 37.5 days. The tract receives maximum amount of rain during the north-east monsoon season followed by south-west monsoon (June-September). One of the distinguishing features of the tract is the high wind speed from June to August.

Population density and herd composition

The distribution of the Kangayam in the breeding tract is found to vary between 32 and 97 per cent. The average herd size is 3.5 animals (range 1-29) with majority of herds having three to five animals.

The herd composition of the Kangayam reveals that, in general, breedable females constitute nearly 44 per cent and breeding bulls constitute less than one per cent while working males constitute 27 per cent. In some villages in Dindigul district the proportion of dry females was 5 to 9 times higher than that of the females in milk. Most of the females are not allowed to breed regularly and are kept mainly for draught. As per the 1996 estimate, a total of 4,79,000 Kangayam cattle were available in the breeding tract and the population in its present status does not require any measure for conservation. But consolidation of the efforts made so far and steps to improve the breed are need of the hour.

In general, decline in the Kangayam population is noticed in the entire breeding tract. The following factors presumably contributed to the apparent reduction in the population density: (i) reduction in the need for animal draught power for agricultural operations due to increased mechanized farm operations (ii) diversification in animal husbandry activities with more emphasis on rearing crossbred cattle and buffaloes for increased milk production and on sheep rearing in dry areas of the tract for better economic returns and (iii) the absence of the breed society/organization for promoting development and improvement of the Kangayam cattle.

Production performance

Draught capacity : The data collected from 100 pairs of bullocks used for transport of sugarcane revealed that a pair of bullocks was able to pull a total load (including cart weight) of 3787+ 51.4 kg i.e. nearly four times of their body weight over a distance of 10 to 20 km without rest (Figure 4). The bullocks usually took 4 to 6 hours to cover 18 to 20 km with the load. They were capable of carrying the load even on a sunny cloudless summer day. Bullocks generally reach the maximum potential for this type of work around five years and maintain it effectively till 11 years of age.

Milk yield : Calves are used not only for let down but are also allowed to consume milk before milking. The milking is not complete and the milk is shared by the farmer and calf the milk yield data are considered as daily partial milk yield.

The average for overall daily partial milk yield (two-time milking) was 1.986 + 0.045 kg and it ranges from 0.5 to 5.65 kg. The yield recorded for cows up to 11 months of lactation did not reveal any definite pattern though there was progressive increase up to the third month. One of the main reasons is the practice of allowing the calves to consume liberal quantity of milk at young age and less as the age advanced. Therefore, there was no definite trend in production corresponding with the stage of lactation. The total estimated partial milk yield for the lactation is 540 kg. The average daily milk yield recorded in this study is generally lower when compared with the earlier reports based on the institutional herds which set a range of 2 to 3 kg as average daily milk yield for the Kangayam cows (Littlewood, 1936; Raju, 1953; Pattabhiraman, 1958). In the farmers’ herds, cows are maintained mainly on grazing and no concentrate supplement is given. Depending on the need cows are also put to work. These factors might have contributed to the low yield of milk.

The cows were capable of producing milk for a lactation period of 9.35 + 0.18 months which is comparable to the value of 264 days already reported by Pattabhiraman (1958). However, shorter lactation periods were also reported (Littlewood, 1936).

Reproduction and breeding

The average ages at first oestrus, mating and calving were 29.49 + 0.40, 29.76 + 0.37 and 39.99 + 0.38 months respectively. The mean calving interval and dry period for all partieis were 15.62 + 0.16 and 5.75 + 0.17 months respectively. There is only marginal difference between age at first oestrus and age at first mating as most of the animals are mated in the observed first oestrus itself. The average ages at first oestrus and first calving obtained in farmers’ herds are lower than the values of 34.4 and 44.4 months respectively reported for Kangayam cows under organized farm conditions (Rajagopalan, 1952). The average calving interval of 15.62 months is comparable with the value of 15 months (Littlewood, 1936)and 471 days )Pattabhiraman, 1958) reported for Kangayam cows. The calvings are found to be distributed throughout the year. The average number of calvings is nine but cows with 10 to 15 calvings are not uncommon. Twinning is rare in the breed.

Selection of male for breeding is done based on their pedigree and phenotypic appearance. Particular attention is paid to the size, conformation, gait, colour and other related qualities. In addition, breeders usually look for certain lucky marks, which are the lines and hairmarks or whorls on different parts of the body of the bulls. The selected males are allowed for breeding at the average age of 30 months. In the breeding tract both natural service and artificial insemination with frozen semen from Kangayam bulls are practiced.

Management practices

Housing : Majority of the farmers do not have any permanent and ventilated animal sheds. Generally, those farmers having 10 animals and above have separate enclosures or three side-closed temporary low cost housing. A few farmers have simple animal sheds consisting of small wall of mud and stone of semi-permanent nature and thatched roofing. Generally, shelter against the sun or rain is not provided to the animals but they are protected against the furious winds which prevail from June to August by screens of bamboo mats or some other kind of protection against wind. If farmers possessed only garden/wet land they keep the animals around their house compound. During summer some farmers keep their cattle day and night in the grazing land itself.

Feeding : The calves are allowed to consume as much milk as they required up to the first six weeks. Later, green grass is provided for the calves depending on the availability and in due course they are allowed for grazing along with their dams. The period of suckling is gradually reduced as the calves grow. Generally concentrate feed or supplement is not given to calves. Bull calves are given comparatively better attention than heifer calves with respect to suckling.

The young stock, milking and dry land is kept as pasture land and “Mullukiluvai” (Balsamodendron berryi), a thorny shrub, is grown around grazing ground as live fence. The predominant vegetation seen in the pasture is Kolukkattain grass (Cenchrus ciliaris and Cenchrus setigerus). The common trees observed are Velvaelam (Acacia leucophloea), Karuvaelam (Acacia nilotica), neem (Azadirachta indica) and palmyra (Borassus flabellifer). Fenced grazing area with Cenchrus grass and Acacia leucophloea is a distinguishing feature of the breeding tract. Cenchrus grasses have bulbous rootstock which can maintain their vitality even during the severest drought. The seeds are freely dispersed and rain at any time causes rapid germination, resulting in lush green pasture which grows to a foot or more in height within a few weeks time.

Besides grazing, animals are also fed with dry fodder like sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) and pearl millet (Pennisetum typhoides) stovers, groundnut haulms, paddy straw, etc. The quantity of dry fodder fed depends on the availability of grass in the grazing field. Bullocks in work are given ad libitum quantity of dry fodder and soaked cotton seed. During the dry season, when the grazing is scarce, concentrate feed consisting of rice bran, groundnut cake, soaked cotton seed and gound sorghum and pearl millet are given to cows in milk and to the working animals. The quantity varies from 0.5 to 1.0 kg per animal. Palmyra leaves are also fed with other fodder during periods of drought. Kangayam young stock and adults are able to utilize poor quality roughage efficiently.

After milking (around 6.00 a.m.) the cows along with young stock, dry females and bullocks are watered and sent to the pasture for grazing. The pasture land is generally divided into many paddocks by live fencing. Within the grazing area facility for drinking water is also provided by keeping small cement water troughs. A system of rotational and priority grazing is being adopted. In the evening, around 5.00 p.m. the animals are brought back from the pasture and watered and tethered.

Other practices

Males are generally castrated at an average age of 24 months which varies from 18 to 30 months. During the time of castration ears are also pruned to improve the appearance; but it is not done in the case of females. At three years bullocks are trained for ploughing and after the age of four years they are put to carting. The Kangayam cows are mainly reared for producing bullocks for draught purposes and the milk is regarded as a by-product. The milk received from the cows are not sold but utilised for home consumption.


In the breeding tract, there is a regular practice of conducting annual cattle fairs in which mainly Kangayam young males and bullocks are brought for sale. There is a great demand for Kangayam bullocks from outside the breeding tract, especially from southern districts of Tamilnadu due to their superior draught quality and longevity. In addition, there are also weekly fairs resulting in regular movement of animals within the breeding tract. In addition to morphological characteristics, lucky marks or whorls on cattle are also looked into prior to the purchase due to certain beliefs, and prevailing opinion among farmers.

The future

The future of Kangayam breed depends on the awareness among farmers about the strong points of the breed. Formation of breed society on the lines of Ongole cattle will give the much needed fillip to the breed. Establishment of a breeding farm in the habitat is a long-felt need for the breed, though a nucleus herd is maintained at District Livestock Farm, Hosur. The climate, ecology and vegetation of the farm are quite dissimilar to those found in the home tract. The envisaged farm in the home tract will be useful for initiating Open Nucleus Breeding Scheme by associating the herds in and around so that rapid genetic improvement can be achieved. Support from the State can be in the form of supply of frozen semen and breeding bulls. Where artificial insemination is not feasible, supply of good quality Kangayam bulls may be made at a nominal cost. To ensure genetic variability exchange of breeding bulls among farmers must be encouraged. Farmers in the main breeding tract must be discouraged from resorting to crossbreeding indiscriminately.

Though the draught capacity of the Kangayam bullocks is well known, quantitative data on various indicators of draught quality are not available. Such information will help to identify suitable selection criteria. Studies on work physiology may also indicate the parameters for draught capacity and adaptation. In cows efforts should be made to study the milk production potential. The milk yield has to be optimized (without sacrificing the draught quality) under the existing management so that rearing of the Kangayam cows becomes economically viable. Farming Systems Research may be initiated so that a holistic view of the farmers conditions is taken into consideration instead of looking at the Kangayam in isolation.

Unraveling the cattle genome is fast becoming a reality and therefore steps have to be taken to identify the loci responsible for the special attributes of Kangayam cattle. The future of the Kangayam is secure provided there is active participation by the farmers for conservation ad there is meaningful and timely intervention by the State.

(Courtesy : N.Kandhasamy, Dept. of Animal Genetics, Veterinary College & Research Institute, Namakkal, TN – 637 001)

3) Senapathy Kangayam cattle Research Foundation
Kuttappalayam (po), Kangayam Taluk, Tiruppur Dt.,
Tamilnadu, India – 638 108.
Phone :- 91 422 3209779, 2232818
91 999 4433456, 9442323456
Fax :- 91 422 2233846
E-mail : mail (at) kangayambull(dot)com