An indigenous breed of cattle, which can give pressing competition to the other cattle breeds: Punganur dwarf cow, is a special and rare breed of cow which originated from Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh. The breed is named after the town of its origin, Punganur, in Chittoor district situated in the south-eastern tip of the Deccan Plateau. It is not officially recognized as a breed since there are only a few animals remaining.
There are many aspects which makes this cow different from all others and special amongst the herd. Where generally the fat content in cow’s milk would be around 3-3.5 %, milk of this cow contains fat content of about 8%.
This dwarf cattle has an average height of 70 to 90 cm and is weighed about 115 to 200 kg. The cow has an average milk yield of 3-50 L/day and has a daily feed intake of just 5 kg. It is highly drought resistant, and able to survive exclusively on dry fodder.
Punganur is one of the very few smallest cattle breed in the world. The downward back sloping, from front to hindquarters animal’s tail touches the ground. Talking of the horns, It has slight mobile horns, almost flat along the back and normally at different heights from each other.
Punganur cattle can be seen in different colours. Some camouflaged animals with red, brown or black colored patches mixed with white colour can also be seen.
Not just this, the milk of this cow has medicinal properties. Perhaps, that is why the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has about 200 Punganur cows in its cattle-yard. Ghee prepared from the milk of these cows is being used in ‘archana' (offering) for Lord Venkateswara. The Punganur cow's milk is as well used for the offerings for the Lord in Tirupati temple. It is used for the ksheera abhishekham and the ghee is used for the famous Tirupati Laddu. The medicinal properties of the cow is being recognized, especially in south India.
The Punganur is on the verge of extinction, with some 60 odd animals remaining. This decline is mainly due to the Indian Government's 2013 objective of 'bettering' Indian cattle breeds with Holstein-Friesian and Jersey cattle traits from developed countries and banning the rearing of native bull breeds. The remaining Punganur cattle are being reared mainly on the Livestock Research Station, Palamaner, Chittoor district, attached to SV Veterinary University. A small informal group of private breeders are also working on reviving the breed.