The Gir cow is one of the principal Zebu breed originating in India. The origin of the breed is in the Gir forest region and the surrounding district of Saurashtra region of Gujarat State. Actually, the name is GIR & not GYR as misspelled by some of the people.
Gir is considered to be the most gentle of the Zebu breeds. It is resistant to hot temperatures and tropical diseases. It is very known for its milk-producing qualities. Gir is one of the best-recognized dairy breeds of India, highest potential in milk production and grouped under a ponderous, red and white group of cattle.
The Gir is a famous milk cattle breed in India. The native tract of the breed is Gir hills and forests of Kathiawar including Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Amreli districts of Gujarat. This breed is also known as Bhodali, Desan, Gujarati, Kathiawari, Sorthi, and Surti in different parts of the breeding tract.
Gir cattle have been used locally in the improvement of other breeds including the Red Sindhi and the Sahiwal. it is also one of the breeds used in the development of the Brahman breed in North America. In Brazil, the Gir is used as a Bos indicus breed.
The Gir cows are famous for their tolerance to stress conditions and resistance to various tropical diseases. Bullocks of this breed are used to drag heavy loads on all kinds of soil. Brazil, Mexico, USA, and Venezuela have imported these cows where they are being bred successfully. These cows contribute significantly to the total milk production of Gujarat State.
“Any indigenous cattle breed like Gir Cows will not let out milk freely like Holstein, who have no emotions”
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Physical Characteristics of Gir cow
- The coat color of Gir cows varies from shades of red and white to almost black and white or entire red.
- Skin color is dominantly black but in a few cows, it is brown.
- The forehead is prominent, convex and broad like a bony shield. This overhangs eyes in such a way that they appear to be partially closed and the cow shows sloppy appearance. The convex forehead of Gir cattle is the most unusual feature of this breed. Their convex forehead acts as a cooling radiator to the brain and pituitary gland
- Ears are long and pendulous and folded like a leaf with a notch at the tip. Ears are an excellent fly and insect swatter.
- Horns are curved turning back at the tip. They orient downwards and backward from the base and incline a little upwards and forwards, thereafter.
- Gir cows have moderately developed dewlap: males have a large and pendulous sheath.
- The tail is long whip-like
- Hooves are black and medium-sized
- Hair is short and glossy
- Skin is loose and pliable
- Hipbones are prominent
- The body is well proportioned
- The udder in cows is well developed and round and teat tips are round.
- The average body weight of Gir bull is about 545 kg and 385 kg for cows.
Best practices to increase milk yields in Gir cow
What are these practices? “A calf must be allowed to drink milk from two out of her mother’s four udder teats until she is six months old. This will ensure she becomes a healthy cow and a good milker in the future,” advises farmers. Secondly, a cow should be given 1 kg compound cattle feed and 15 kg green fodder grass as a daily maintenance ratio, whether or not she is producing milk.
For pregnant cows, the dairy cattle feed dose should be 2 kg initially and gradually raised to 6 kg close to calving. This will guarantee both higher milk yields and better calf health.
Once the cow is in-milk, there would be the base maintenance dose of 1 kg feed (and 15 kg fodder) plus 500 grams for every liter. For 12 liters daily yield, it means 7 kg of feed and 15 kg fodder.
“It is necessary for proper feed management. Each cow has a different requirement, depending on its age and stage of lactation or pregnancy,” explains the 59-year-old Patel, Natural Farmer
But raising indigenous cattle has its challenges, starting with their not being amenable to machine milking. The reason for it is that the teats of these cows are uneven and “they will not let out milk freely like HFs, who have no emotions”. Also, their milk has to fetch a better rate to compensate for lower yields.
By following best practices cows yield an average of 3,000 liters over a 300-day lactation period, as against the normal 2,000 levels for this indigenous cattle breed. Moreover, can bring down their age of first calving to below three years, compared to the 4-5 years under usual grazing conditions. “If you follow scientific feeding and herd management practices, a cow can be inseminated (to be done naturally by bulls) in 24 months. Add nine months of pregnancy, she will start giving milk in 33 months,” a Natural farmer says.
Milk sales alone can barely cover feed and fodder, labor and other overhead expenses. To make money, farmers need to generate extra income from the sale of dung and bred cows (a four-year-old pure Gir cow can fetch Rs 1-1.5 lakh), besides cultivating their own fodder.
Gir cattle adaptability in various environmental conditions is quite good. It is seen all over the world in various conditions. Gir does not have sclerotic which means that it is very resistant to sunlight. Gir has a corporal area bigger than all mammals of the warm area. The difference in size is due to the hump, longer ears, dewlap, tail, and sheath. An increase in body area makes heat dissipation easier.
Gir has surface blood capillaries very evident. Gir breathing in warm days keeps at a normal level. Gir cattle seldom have cases of hyperthermia under the sun. Gir cattle embryos have a low mortality rate on hot days.
Gir cow is very social and easy to handle. Gir is considered to be the most gentler breed of cows.
Gir cow spends a lot of time licking, touching and leaning on each other. The bull tends to protect the herd and the whole herd protects the calves. They love being with humans. They adore being brushed and scratched on their big pendulous dewlap, around the heads, and between the back legs.
They are very gregarious and at night form a circle very close together with their calves sleeping under their necks. Allow taming. It may become a friendly man at barn handling.
Calf sucking is required for the letdown of milk. Let the calf take teat in the mouth and suck till the teat is filled with milk. The calf is tied near the face of the cow and then milking is carried out.
Gir cow gestation
A well-fed Gir heifer can come to the first estrus around its 20-24 month and can have its first calf as early as 36 months of age. The gestation period lasts for 280-285 days. After calving the animal gives milk for about 310 days. In a year, a cow gives milk for about 10 months.
A single cow lives for almost 12 to 15 years and can produce 6 to 10 calves.
Gir cow milk yield
Age at first heat and calving averaged 1149 and 1534 days, respectively. The average dry period and inter-calving period were 123 and 423 days, respectively. Heifers received an average of 1.07 inseminations for successful conception whereas cows received 1.64 inseminations per conception. Total lactation milk yield averaged 206 liters in an average lactation period of 326 days. The average milk yield in 300 days was 1 930 liters. Milk yield per day of calving interval was 4.98 liters. The average fat percentage in the milk ranged between 4.69±0.04 and 4.97±0.02.
Gir Cow Cost
Gir cow costs between Rs 50,00 to over Rs 1.5 lakh. There is no right price for the cow. It depends on the purity of the Gir breed.
Disease Pattern in Gir cows
Gir cows are considered hardy with low overall mortality. The highest mortality was observed from birth to one month of age. Female calves had higher mortality than males during this stage. Mortality was very marginal after one year of age. Broncho-Pneumonia and Pneumo-Enteritis were the major causes of mortality in calves. A few cases of reproductive disorders i.e. dystocia, abortion, retention of placenta, prolapse have also been noticed in females.
Advantages of Gir cow in your dairy farm
- An average Gir cow yields about 10 to 15 liters per day in good climatic conditions. It might even yield more in its native state of Gujarat.
- High milk production capacity. Also, the milk from the cows is considered to be of premium quality due to the presence of A-2 beta-casein protein substance.
- It can sustain in different environmental and habitat conditions.
- Gir cows can produce more than 12 calves during their life span
- Low maintenance structure needed for farming Gir cows.
- The average lifespan of the cow is high (12 to 15 years). Low mortality rate.
- The Gir breed has a high fertility rate and can produce up to 10 calves (average) during its lifespan.
- This cattle breed shows high resistance to diseases.
- The value of the milk in the market is high.
- This cow is adaptable to mechanical milking techniques.
- Natural mating is preferred while rearing this breed rather than artificial insemination techniques.
- The Gir cow breed is estimated to produce <strong>1590 kg of milk per lactation on an average. During the first calving process, 1600 to 1700 kg of milk per lactation is produced, but for mature cows, the milk production is higher around 1800 to 2000 kg per lactation.
- The cost of 1 liter of milk varies from place to place (e.g. Rs 50 to Rs 80 per liter) and is comparatively high because the milk is believed to contain two protein groups: the casein and whey protein.
- The milk has 80% of casein protein and is specified as A2 milk. By research and observation, it is believed that the consumption of the A2 milk has some improvements in health such as reducing autism, type 1 diabetes, neurological disorders, immunity problems, endocrine disorders and symptoms of schizophrenia. The cow’s milk has an average of 4.69 to 4.97% of fat in its milk.