The Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) have started works on construction of a research station for indigenous Bargur breed cattle in the district.
Levelling work is in progress on a 50-acre site provided to the University for establishing the Centre at a cost of Rs. 6 crore over a five-year period. The initial instalment of Rs. 1.37 crore has already been provided, Babu, Director of Animal Production Studies, TANUVAS, who would be inspecting the site on Thursday, said.
The Centre will focus on propagating population of the indigenous breed on Bargur hills and increasing their milk yield through selective breeding, official sources said.
At present, the cows of this breed yield only around two litres of milk a day. Aavin has initiated a milk society to source the milk, which at a later stage could be sold as a premium product, sources said.
According to the rearers, there is a niche market for ghee, butter and other products made out of milk sourced from Bargur cows.
Start of the Centre has been necessitated by a drastic fall in the numbers of the cows due to restrictions on grazing imposed by the Forest Department. Until the last decade, rearing of this breed of the cows did not entail any expenditure as the cattle used to graze in the forest land in herds and return by themselves.
Bargur cattle breeders are hopeful that the Research Centre would prompt many among them to revive cattle-rearing for income generation.
The oxen are deployed by farmers for ploughing and are known for their running speed. The dung is used as natural manure.
For the last two years, the Animal Husbandry Department has been conducting annual exhibition on the breed at Thurasanampalayam village on the hills. There were many takers for Bargur breed at the cattle air conducted in connection with the Gurunathaswamy Temple festival at Anthiyur earlier this year.