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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Great Indian "Bull" Market

The Ongole Bull is a majestic animal and is large with a heavy build. They are attentive and attractive with broad foreheads and no hollows in the temples. With black muzzles with wide nostrils, muscular wide jaws, large flaccid eyes and alert ears, they have horns that are short and stumpy. The neck is thick with large loose dewlaps. The hump is the most imposing part of the Ongole Bull. It is large, round and splendid. The animals have strong legs with black hooves that are squarely set under body.  Nose string is seldom used for Ongole bulls are docile.

The Ongole Bulls, found in a small region between the Gundlakamma and Alluru rivers in the Ongole and Kandukur talukas of Andhra Pradesh in an area no larger than about 100 square miles, are world famous stud bulls. 

Ongole bulls have gone as far as America, Holland, Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Paraguay, Indonesia, West Indies, Australia, Fiji, Mauritius, Indo china and Philippines. The Brahmana bull in America is an off-breed of the Ongole. An Island in Malaysia where there are many Ongoles is named as Ongole Island. The population of Ongole off-breed in Brazil is said to be around several millions.

Cattle populations worldwide (2009)

 The mascot of the 2002 Indian National Games was Veera, an Ongole Bull.

Ongole bulls are particularly conspicuous with respect to their biometry. They are heavily built weighing approx. 567.6 kgs at a height of 1.5 meters, with a body length of 1.6 meter and girth measuring 2 meters. The bulls look majestic, royal, attractive and alert. The Ongoles are fine, docile and suitable for heavy draught. Ongole cattle perform under varying environmental conditions due to their adaptability and are unique triple purpose cattle of the tropics that serve as draught, milk and meat animals. 

The Ongoles are with muscular body, short neck, and long limbs. The popular coat colour is white with dark grey markings on head, neck, and hump and black points on the knees and pasterns of both fore and hind limbs. The skin is medium thick. The head is long with a relatively flat forehead. The ears are moderately long and slightly drooping. Muzzle is well developed with fairly wide nostrils that are black in colour. The eyes are moderately large, elliptical in shape and bright. The legs are strong and clean, toes of the foreleg pointing straight forward, the curve of hock not too straight or too curved. The horns are short and stumpy, growing outwards and backwards and are thick at the base. The horn length (typical) of a good breed normally is below 3 inches (resembling Nandi). The hump of the bull is well developed, open and erect. Dewlap   and sheath are moderate to large sized. Tail is of moderate length and thickness with a black switch reaching about half way between the hocks and the ground. In fact the statue of Nandi is the image of a perfect Ongole bull, for example the large Nandi statue in Andhra Bhavan, New Delhi. Villagers in that region grade bulls based on standard features.

World wide the Ongole bull is better known by its American off-breed "The Brahman Bull"
Brahmani  it seems is the system of maintaining the pure bloodlines of the Ongole bull.

The Brahmani System:
A stud bull is selected through rigorous procedures by a group of village experts and is dedicated to the temple of the village deity. Sometimes the purchase cost of the bull is born by a rich family of the village in memory of their elders. Once the bull is dedicated to the temple, the bull is the property of   the village and is set free. The bull is not prevented if it enters into a crop field, is allowed to feed and it leaves on it’s own. The bull sired the village herd free of cost. This custom was prevalent throughout Ongole breeding tract. Thus the brahmani custom helped selective breeding because of which maintenance of pure blood lines of Ongoles became possible.

Percentage of Cattle projected as Brahman or Brahman influenced cattle: (2011) 

Australia: Cattle Population: 28 million, Brahman influenced: 51%
Brazil: Cattle Population: 200 million, Brahman influenced: 1% (Very strange low number)
Columbia Cattle Population: 23 million, Brahman influenced: 75%
Ecuador Cattle Population: 5 million, Brahman influenced: 80%
Mexico Cattle Population: 23 million, Brahman influenced: +50%
Namibia Cattle Population: 2 million, Brahman influenced: +70%
Philippines Cattle Population: 3 million, Brahman influenced: 95%
South Africa Cattle Population: 15 million, Brahman influenced: 60%
USA Cattle Population: 110 million, Brahman influenced: 30%

Pls note only Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Eucador, Mexico, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa and USA participated in this survey and 23% of the cattle was projected as Brahman influenced cattle. Brazil numbers seem to be suspect (1%) as Brazil is one of the largest importer of Indian breeds and also one of the largest exporter of "Brahman" bulls to the world.

From Outlook Article (Outlook article Link)

Andhra’s Ongole bulls are prized as they are said to be resistant to mad cow disease
Concerns abound about illegal acquisition of genetic material. Recently, a middleman paid Rs 35 lakh for a bull. Healthy bulls sell for crores in Brazil.
Great demand also for Gir and Kankrej species of cattle from Gujarat for their high milk yield

Satyajit Khachar, a cattle-breeder from Jasdan in Gujarat who specialises in the Gir variety, says that every 10-15 years the Brazilians “need infusion of fresh blood from the parent country to retain vigour”. With Brazilian partners, he runs Brazil India Ltd that has exported 200 embryos of the Gir breed in the last two years. Khachar claims he has the necessary clearances from the state/central animal husbandry departments. The long-term plan is to recreate the Gir breed, known for its high milk yield, there. “I expect more than a million USD (over Rs 4.5 crore) for a good Gir bull in Brazil,” 

Conclusion: The Great Indian "Bull" Market it seems is well known in cattle rearing circles. Indian exports are more than just IT resources. Bio diversity is one of the greatest assets. For instance raw onions contain more antioxidants than Red wine but its something that is never marketed maybe because the largest exporters of onion are China and India.

Reference Links

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