Breeding Punganur cows at home, much like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has become more accessible. On the auspicious occasion of Makara Sankranthi, PM Modi was observed caring for several Punganur cows at his residence in New Delhi.
This unique breed, indigenous to a village of the same name in Andhra Pradesh, is remarkably small and can be raised even in an apartment setting. Despite its diminutive size, it is recognized as one of the world’s smallest cattle breeds, yet it produces highly nutritious milk, according to experts.
Dr. BL Chidananda, a retired Animal Sciences professor from the University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, describes the Punganur breed as a ‘gold mine.’ He notes that the cow’s milk contains the element Au, the chemical symbol for gold. The milk is notably used in various temples of Andhra Pradesh, including the renowned Tirupati Thirumala Temple, for Ksheeraabhishekam (milk offering to the deity). People also incorporate silver utensils and occasionally consume delicate sheets of gold and silver for added nutritional benefits.
“The milk from a Punganur cow boasts high nutritional value, known for its A2 milk with elevated fat content. It is rich in essential nutrients like Omega fatty acids, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, promoting good health,” explains the animal sciences expert.
A Punganur cow typically yields 1 to 3 liters of milk per day, with an impressive 8% milk fat content compared to 3 to 4% in other native breeds. The quality of milk is influenced by factors such as feed quality, genetics, and proper maintenance.
Characterized as beautiful and ‘divine,’ Punganur cows exhibit a distinctive glow in their eyes and stride. They possess a docile temperament, making them friendly animals suitable for families with children.
Owning a Punganur cow is considered prestigious and is primarily found in the farms of temples, goshalas, and affluent landowners’ homes. The cost can range from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, depending on the breed’s purity and the cow’s health.
Cows hold sacred significance among Hindus, symbolizing prosperity and compassion. The Punganur breed, once on the brink of extinction, has experienced a resurgence due to Mission Punganur. Many of the cows at the Prime Minister’s residence belong to this breed, according to a veterinarian.
Efforts to revive the Punganur breed intensified when it faced extinction, largely due to farmers favoring hybrid cows for higher milk production. Mission Punganur, launched by the Andhra government in 2020, played a crucial role in popularizing and conserving the breed. The PMO has actively contributed to this conservation effort by nurturing a group of Punganur cows, and agri-scientists are exploring techniques like embryo transfer to further safeguard the breed’s future.