Livestock population up by 4.6%; cow count rises by 18%

From 512 million in 2012 to nearly 536 million in 2019, the livestock population has increased by 4.6%, as per the 20th livestock census. Cows account for over one-fourth of the total livestock population & increase 18% from the previous census.

Cows at a gaushala near Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. (TOI photo for representation)
NEW DELHI: The livestock population in India has increased by 4.6%, from 512 million in 2012 to nearly 536 million in 2019. Though the overall number of cattle has increased only marginally, the cows, which account for over one-fourth of the total livestock population, showed an impressive increase of 18% over the previous census.

Even among the indigenous (desi) breeds of cattle, female ones (cows) showed an increase of 10% in their number. Overall population of indigenous breeds of cattle (male and female), however, recorded a decline of 6% whereas population of cross-bred/exotic cattle recorded an increase of 27% over the 2012 census.

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The 20th livestock census figures, released on Wednesday, show that nearly 75% of total cattle in the country are female (cows)-- a clear sign of dairy farmers' preferences for milk-producing cattle. This also gained momentum in the past couple of years due to the government's assistance in terms of providing sex-sorted artificial insemination (AI), with semen of high-yielding bulls, free of cost at farmers' doorstep.


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The total number of cattle in the country is 192.49 million in 2019, showing an increase of 0.8% over the previous census. It includes 145.12 million female cattle (cows) which showed an increase of 18% compared to 2012.

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State-wise, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has recorded highest livestock population in 2019 followed by Rajasthan, MP, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat.

However in terms of cattle population, West Bengal figured at the top followed by UP, MP, Bihar and Maharashtra. Comparative census figures show decline in cattle population in UP, MP, Maharashtra and Odisha in 2019 as compared to the previous census in 2012 while Jharkhand and Bihar recorded the highest increase during the period.

As far as increase in the number of indigenous breed of female cattle is concerned, the growth can be attributed to the Centre's 'Rashtriya Gokul Mission' and the 'National Gokul Gram' programme to conserve and promote climate resilient indigenous breeds of cattle.

Nevertheless, the country recorded higher growth of exotic and cross-bred variety of cows, which continue to be preferred by many dairy farmers due to their much higher yield as compared to the indigenous breeds of cows.

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The increase in overall number of livestock (cows, bulls, buffaloes, yaks, mithuns, sheep, goats, horses & ponies, mules, donkeys, camels and pigs) can be attributed to relatively higher percentage growth in population of sheep and goat compared to the bovine (cow, buffalo, mithun and yak) population, which showed an increase of only 1% over the last census.

Though the first livestock census in India had been conducted 100 years ago, the periodicity of the operation since 1919 had never been consistent. While the 19th and 18th census were conducted with October 15, 2012 and October 15, 2007, respectively, as their reference dates, the 17th (2003) and 18th (2007) census had a gap of four years. On the other hand, the 16th (1997) and 17th (2003) census had seen a gap of six years like the latest one between 2012 and 2018-19.
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Besides enumerating livestock, the census exercise- which was launched in October last year by involving over 80,000 field staff - also arrived at the number of poultry birds (fowl, duck, emu, turkeys, quail and others) in the country.

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The result shows over 851 million poultry in the country in 2019 - an increase of nearly 17% over the previous census. The poultry population includes over 534 million of commercial poultry and 317 million of backyard poultry in the country.

The 20th livestock census was the first one where enumerators used mobile application for data collection with various features such as data entry module to facilitate recording the data on tablets and online transmission of numbers from field to the National Informatics Centre (NIC) server.

Data of more than 27 crore households and non-households from 6.6 lakhs villages and 89,000 urban wards had been collected during the census operation across the country. Breed-wise capture of data of animals and poultry birds was another key feature of the 20th census.
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