a bit of Miniature Zebu history from

Breeds of Indian Cattle
Rare Book Society of India


Nadu bulls 1895

"Nadudana" or village cattle.
Mysore, also known as Mysuru, is in India's southwestern state of Karnataka. The kingdom of Mysore was established in 1399. Two varieties of cattle exist side by side in Mysore, each serving its own particular purpose. The first and by far the most numerous of these is known as "Nadudana" or village cattle, of small size, compact frame, and various colors. Every village in the Province teems with them. They constitute the bulk of the agricultural stock, and are the main source of dairy produce.

"Duoddadana" or big cattle.
The second is termed "Duoddadana" (big cattle), and consists of the less numerous, but more efficient and valuable animals of more uniform size and color; they are more often employed in carting than in agriculture, and are largely sold in cattle markets. Cattle of this description are owned only by well-to-do raiyats and breeders.

"Nadudana" or village cattle are left entirely to themselves without any control and without any of those artificial restrictions by which alone a breed can be saved from deterioration when living under the artificial conditions in which they are placed by domestication. Seldom is any selection of breeding cows and bulla made with reference to their fitness for producing a vigorous and healthy progeny. The slaughter of cows is rare and any cow, however deformed or diminutive, is allowed to breed. Inferior and defective bulls are generally uncastrated. The common practice of driving all the village cattle in one herd to graze leads to indiscriminate breeding. Most village cows are from these various causes so small and of such little value that the owners do not think it worth their while to get superior bulls to serve them.

Cattle bred in great numbers, both "Doddadanas" and "Nadudanas" are more or less neglected as regards protection from the weather. They are grazed during the day and are driven for the night into open enclosures exposed in bad weatber to rain, wind, and dew. The droppings are seldom removed from the enclosure except near cultivated lands where they are of value as manure. Young calves are sheltered in sheds provided for the men tending the herds. This treatment has, to a certain extent, the effect of hardening the stock and improving the breed as it kills off the weaker animals.

Little is known of the early history of these cattle. They seem to have descended from the indigenous cattle of the aboriginal inhabitants of the country and existed anterior to the importation of every variety of "Doddadana," or before any idea of improving cattle was at all entertained by the people. Their existence at the present day as a distinct breed may be said to be due to neglect in breeding, all stunted products falling under the denomination of "Nadudana". They form the great bulk of the live-stock of the Province, being found wherever man has settled. Points of Nadudana or local breed:

  • Head. Short, often with a flat but symmetrical forehead.
  • Horns. Of every shape and color, varying from a stumpy thick to a lean long type.
  • Eyes. Small and active.
  • Neck. Of proportionate length, but in some rather thin.
  • Ears. Small and erect.
  • Dewlap. Thin and short.
  • Hump. Fairly developed.
  • Legs. Proportionate; in some instances somewhat long.
  • Feet. Small with equal or unequal halves, the cleft being usually narrow and color varied, though black prevails.
  • Back. Varying in breadth and formation.
  • Ribs. For the most part well rounded, though flat in some specimens.
  • Pelvis. Variously drooping.
  • Tail. Varying both in length and thickness.
  • Shoulders & Thighs. Proportionate and well-made.
  • Sheath. Rarely pendulous.
  • Color. Black color of skin prevails, though other colors are not unusual. The hair is of different colors--red, black, grey, white, brown or fawn or shades of these. Broken colors are very common (below, Plate 20).
  • Size. Small.
  • Form and Shape. Much greater diversity of form and shape is found among village cattle than in any well-defined superior breeds which at once strike the observer by their uniformity. Village cattle are on the whole compactly made and symmetrical, though ill-proportioned animals are by no means rare. Plate 19 (above) represents a pair of "Nadu" or village plough bulls of the better class.
Nadu common bull 1895

Lack of Animal Husbandry.
They are generally ill-fed except where natural pasturage is abundant. In the hot weather they suffer and sometimes numbers die of starvation. In the best of seasons the quantity of straw that is grown is less than what is needed if cattle are to be fully fed. There is no spectacle more pitiful than a collection of half-starved village cattle in seasons of drought. Their low condition and weakness render them peculiarly liable to epidemic diseases of various descriptions. There is hardly a village which does not periodically sustain extensive devastation of cattle. In localities where large extents of lowland tracts irrigated by tanks or channels exist, cattle get some grazable forage in the dry weather and do not look the mere skin-and-bone which they do in places where such advantages are entirely absent. Where large reservoirs and good springs abound, cattle get a good drink of water in the dry weather, but in the large jungle pastures and in many villages of every district scarcity of water often prevails from which cattle suffer as much as from the scantiness of fodder. The little water pools and reservoirs which generally form the sole source of water for cattle in villages gradually become concentrated, soiled by the faeces of the cattle, and charged with the smell of their urine.
Cattle of this breed are generally docile. Those bred in large herds in "roppas" like "Doddadana," are fiery in temper and very shy. It is not uncommon to find such specimens even in purely village-bred animals of this dass.
Usefulness of the breed.
These are the most serviceable animals bred in the Province, inasmuch as they perform more than 15% of the total agricultural work of the country, and a greater part of light transport-cattle used as beasts of burden are drawn from this breed. About a third of the dairy produce is produced by them (the other two-thirds being mainly contributed by buffaloes), while nearly the whole of beef supplied to the beef-consuming classes is derived from them.
Pack animals. p.28. The points of pack animals intended for carrying heavy loads are: (a) Bony, compact frame. (b) Strong chest and loins, equally and well developed. If these are weak, the animal struggles in ascents and descents. (c) A level and wide back with strong vertebrae and well arched ribs. (d) Short, straight and stout legs with short pasterns and well-developed shoulders and thighs. If the animals are short, it is all the better for loading. Cattle designed for this purpose should not be allowed to breed prior to castration which should be effected at the beginning of the sixth year. Most cattle suitable for this kind of work are found among the" Nadudana." As these animals have to traverse all kinds of soils and uneven. ground, they should be particularly strong in points (b), (c) and (d), and should have, besides, strong, hard hoofs, of which the two halves should be equal.
Animals for work involving fatigue. p.28. The smaller and more compact the animals the more capable are they of standing fatigue. A hardy course of treatment in breeding such as the Amrut Mahal and other semi-wild herds undergo, prepares them for any extraordinary call upon their powers of endurance. White-skinned cattle are delicate. They get a staring coat in the cold weather, are easily tired and perspire under work, and cannot stand heat or the inclemencies of the weather. Black-skinned animals, on the contrary, are hardy and can resist the effects of exposure. Cattle of the Hallikar breed and many bulls of the "Nadudana," especially those of Lingadahalli, Pavagada, Midigesi, Bettadapur and Metikuppe, are known to be hardy, spirited, and capable of enduring much fatigue.

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