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Livestock ownership by type Cattle farming will never be “commercial” in India – farms are too small


Latest figures available for 2010-11 (here) indicate that medium and large farmers hold just 12.8% of livestock.


  • Significant improvements will not come from commercial farms.
  • … but from better milk prices and coops collecting the milk from and supplying inputs to the small farms
  • GOI will do nothing that can jeopardize the economic well-being of these small farmers, and especially nothing that could push them to leave the land for the already overcrowded cities.

Ownership of Animals:

  • More than 87% of livestock of India is held by small and marginal farmers who have less than 4 hectares of land each.
  • Average number of animals per farmer is about 1.7 in the small and marginal farmers category.
    • There are around 130 million small dairy farms of up to 4 ha in the country
  • Medium and large farmers hold about 12.8% of bovine animals. In this category also the average number of animals per farmer is not large. It is about 4.7.
    • Meaning around 7 million such farms
  • There is a negligible number of large farms (of more than 100 animals) in India.

Livestock ownership by households Dairy farming is well spread with >1/3 population owning animals

Dairy ownership in India is very widespread. About 40% of households own a dairy animal.

  • Uttar Pradesh is by far the largest dairy state of the country with about 54% of households owning a dairy animal.
  • Himachal Pradesh, a small state in North India, has the maximum spread of dairy farming with 69% of households owning a bovine animal.
  • Rajasthan is the state with second highest spread of dairying with more than two thirds of the households owning a dairy animal.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Jharkhand are states where about half of households own dairy animals.
  • In North East India, Assam is the only state with significant dairy animals ownership.
  • Traditionally, forest areas did not have significant dairy animals ownership. However, in recent times, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh with significant forest cover have increased ownership of bovine animals.

States with Significant Cattle ownership Cows popular in some states, especially where slaughter is permitted

Cow is preferred over buffalo as a dairy animal in some states. This is particularly true in case of states where cow slaughter is permitted. Indian cows (excluding crossbred breeds), generally, yield less milk than buffaloes. A cow is often cheaper than a buffalo and is easier to maintain. Milk production from buffaloes takes a big dip in summer, while cow milk production remains stable.

  • North eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya have negligible ownership of buffaloes. Noticeably, cow slaughter is permitted in these states.
  • Jammu Kashmir is a Muslim dominated state with widespread cow slaughter. Even in J&K cattle ownership is widespread while buffalo ownership is much smaller.
  • West Bengal is notorious for being a conduit for smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh. West Bengal has very low ownership of buffalo.

States with Significant Buffalo Ownership The major milk producing states rely largely on buffalo

Buffalo as a dairy animal is unique to India.

  • The major milk-producing states (see table above right) rely heavily on buffaloes.
  • Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are contiguous states with a broadly similar sociology-cultural pattern.
  • None of these states permits cow slaughter.
  • The above states account for about 62% of India’s total milk production and for about 74% of buffalo milk production



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  • Livestock cattle
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