Cattle rearing is an important economic activity in India. Milk and milk products (Butter, Ghee), meat, eggs, leather, and silk are raw materials for industries. Animals provide a large proportion of energy required in the farm sector.
The bullocks, buffaloes, horses, ponnies, camel, etc. are used as draught animals. They are used in agricultural activities like ploughing of fields, drawing of water from wells and for carrying loads. With rise in mechanized farming, the use of animal power for farm operations is on gradual decline. This is more true of Green Revolution areas.
Hides and skins of animals are used as raw material for leather industries. Sheep, goats and camels provide wool. Their dung are used for biomass gas production and for making manure.
India is leading producer of milk in the world. It is due to initiative taken by government through ‘Operation Flood’. Under this program good breeds of cows and buffaloes, which yield more milk, have been introduced. Co-operative societies in this field were encouraged. The modern dairy farms produced milk powder, butter, and cheese; condense milk, cream, and ghee along with milk.
The largest number of livestock is found in Uttar Pradesh followed by the states of Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. These four states account for 44% of total livestock of India. The density of animals in India is the highest in the world.
It is about 130 heads of livestock per 100 hectare of land. The percentage of area under permanent pasture is very low in comparison to the density of animal population. Cattle, Buffaloes, sheep and goats are important livestock in India.
Cattle rearing in India is an important economic activity. The cattle population accounts for 43.5% of the total livestock in the country. The largest number of cattle in the country is found in Uttar Pradesh. Except Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, in other states of India the number of cattle are greater among livestock.
The yield of milk from Indian cows is the lowest in the world. It is only 188 liters per animals per annum in India while in Netherland it is 4200 liters differing by about twenty three times. Buffaloes account for 18% of total livestock in India.
They outnumber other animals in the states of Haryana and Punjab. For the milk point of view, buffaloes are important as they account for about 53% of total milk production in India.
Sheep are found mostly in the cold and dry regions of the country. They are very few in areas which are very hot and receive heavy rain during monsoon. They develop hoof diseases in hot and humid climate. Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are major states where sheep are in large numbers.
Among the other animals goats, camels, horses, yaks and mithuns are important. The goats reared mainly for meat and milk. In Rajasthan goats are greater in number than other animals.
Camels are reared in western Rajasthan and adjoining areas of Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab. Camel is called the aeroplane of desert region implies to Thar Desert of India.
Horse and ponies are distributed all over India specially in Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
Yaks are found in mountainous areas of Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. Mithuns are found in Nagaland and Arunanchal Pradesh.
The general condition of animals in India is very poor due to the lack of nutritious fodder, and harsh hot and humid weather conditions. Also, there is a lack of artificial insemination centers, and veterinary hospitals and doctors.