What are the Special Characteristics of a Cow in Pakistan?

If you’re curious about the special characteristics of cows in Pakistan, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we’ll explore the unique traits that make Pakistani cows unique and talk about how they have adapted to their environment. We’ll also discuss why these cows are important for the country and what makes them such an integral part of Pakistani culture.


Pakistan is home to 15 cattle breeds, including the Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Cholistani. The Sahiwal is a breed of zebu cow, named after an area in the Punjab region of Pakistan. It has been bred for its milking ability in Pakistan and for its beefing qualities in Australia, and has been exported to Africa as well. Sahiwal cattle are deep bodied and powerful draft animals with a brownish red to greyish red coat. They have also been used as dairy animals due to their excellent milking qualities. In recent times, India and Pakistan have several diverse types of cattle, some with distinctive characteristics like body length that are rare in other local breeds.

Buffalo is the major dairy animal in Pakistan, contributing the most to total milk production followed by cattle and sheep/goat. To promote their economic traits, breeding programs have been developed for these animals. With this aim in mind, principal component analysis has been conducted on traits such as body length to improve the quality of Pakistani buffaloes.

Body Structure

Sahiwal cattle are an indigenous breed of dairy animals native to India and Pakistan. They have a medium-sized, compact body with lyre-shaped horns, and are usually white or light grey in color. Their hump is prominent, and the udder is small and tucked up against the body. The hooves and muzzle may be black or brown. Gaolao is a type of Sahiwal cattle.

Cattle are large, domesticated herbivores from the subfamily Bovinae. They were independently domesticated from wild aurochs in Turkey and are now found in many countries around the world. Cows have two cloven hooves (split into two toes), making them members of the order Artiodactyla. Cattle are significant for their production capabilities as well as their cultural role in many societies. There have been numerous breeds developed over time that differ in size, color, shape, conformation, milk production rate, resistance to diseases, etc., allowing farmers to select the best traits for their herds.

The heritability of body weight traits ranges from 0·08 to 0·21 in Sahiwal cattle, while milk production rates can reach up to 3.41 ± 1.53 liters per day on average for selected buffalo cows. Population structure of the breed shows considerable genetic variability among various populations which suggests that there is much potential for further development through selective breeding programs.

Hair Texture and Color

The Nelore is a breed of Bos indicus cattle native to India and Pakistan. It is recognizable by its white coat with a characteristic hump above its shoulders, as well as its loose skin. The horns are broad at the base and taper up and inward in a fish hook shape. Bulls are grey with dark colour in their hump, fore and hind quarters, while cows have smaller udders tucked up with the body. Hooves and muzzles are usually black or brown in colour.

The Holstein is the heaviest breed of dairy cow, known for its large udder and colour-related traits. Nelore cattle are also used for beef production, with production characteristics such as coat color (-0.06) and coat thickness influencing reproductive performance. Sahiwal cattle were once ordinary draft animals but their dairy qualities make them one of the best dairy animals existing in India and Pakistan today.

Head Shape and Horns

The Zebu cattle is a medium sized, strong dual-type animal originating from the lower Himalayas. It is migratory, with white fur and lyre-shaped horns. The head of the Zebu is of medium size, with a broad and flat forehead. Its horns are curved upward and inward, in a sickle shape. More than half of these cattle have short horns that are slightly curled and pointed in shape. They also possess pigmented skin, which adds to its distinctive black body. Horns are an important physical feature of these cows, being broad at the base while tapering upwards and inward (in a fish hook pattern). Due to breeding with polled foundation females in the US, some Gelbviehs have become naturally polled (without horns).

Dairy Production

Milk production in Pakistan is an important sector for the country’s agricultural industry. It is estimated that around 34 million tons of milk are produced annually, with 58 percent of that coming from buffaloes and 35 percent from cows. Small and medium-sized dairy farms are the primary source of this milk production, with an average farm consisting of 30 animals – 70 percent of which are female.

Cows and buffaloes are the major producers of milk in Pakistan, with cows providing a productive life span of about 8 years per animal. The Allahabad Agricultural Institute in India has been actively engaged in breeding cattle for dairy production purposes. One technique used to assess the quality of dairy cattle is linear scoring, which looks at a range of traits to determine overall suitability as a milk producer.

When compared to the developed world, however, Pakistan still lags behind in terms of overall dairy production; it is estimated that the country produces approximately 5-6 times less than those nations. This could be due to persistent drought conditions reducing lactation periods and resulting in lower quality and quantity of milk produced. Despite this, Pakistan remains committed to strengthening its dairy sector through initiatives like those provided by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda).

Feeding Habits

Cattle are a species of domesticated animals that have been selectively bred for centuries to provide humans with milk, meat, and labor. The most common cattle type is the dairy cow, which has been bred to produce high yields of milk. Cows also serve as draft animals and are used in many parts of the world to pull carts or plows. Cattle behavior can vary from individual to individual, especially when confronted with changes in diet or environment.

In this study, 340 dairy cows were identified and characterized into three different categories: 20% high efficient (HE), 20% low efficient (LE) and 60% mid efficient (ME). Milk composition varies significantly among species; for example, buffalo milk contains 58% more calcium and 40% more protein than cow milk but 43% less cholesterol.

The modern dairy cow was originally domesticated from aurochs—a wild bovine species—in the vicinity of Turkey, Sindh (Pakistan), Kutch, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer desert areas of India. Bullocks are slow workers but cows are good at feeding behavior and browsing on twigs. Beef cows graze on forage from grasslands to sustain themselves and raise a calf without any grain input. One unique feature inside the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of these cows is cud chewing—the regurgitation and re-chewing of food—which helps them digest their food better. The Sahiwal cattle breed from India

Breeding Practices

Cattle in India and Pakistan have long been a source of important production traits like milk and fat yield, and body weight. The Sahiwal breed of zebu cattle are recognized for their dairy merits in both countries. They are powerful draft animals and have deep bodies. In recent times, further advances have been made in Indian and Pakistani cattle breeds with the introduction of the Kankrej breed. Results from farming systems show that these morphological characteristics significantly vary between sexes, particularly cows. Therefore, crossbreeding techniques such as breeding Red Sindhi bulls to higher producing Jersey cows at an early age can be utilized to improve production traits. In the USA, Brahman Breeds developed from Indian cattle germplasm are the basis of a successful meat industry. The Bhag Nari breed also has great potential to be a beef breed if advanced selection techniques are used. Visible characteristics of this breed include prominent humps, small tucked up udders, black or brown hooves and muzzles, and Gaolao horns. Unfortunately, there is no specific beef-cattle breed present in Pakistan yet; however, some local breeds do possess excellent characteristics as listed in Table 2.

Herding Behavior

The Holstein breed is one of the most popular dairy breeds in the world, with a history stretching back over 2000 years. It is renowned for its high milk production and other desirable traits. In this study, preferences of farmers for breeding goal traits with Danish Red (DR) or Danish Jersey (DJ) were characterized.

In developing countries like India and Pakistan, there are numerous types of cattle with unique characteristics. In the mountain regions of northern Pakistan, pastures are used to keep herds of sheep, goats, and cattle. Herding dogs have been bred to respond to the commands of herders in order to control these animals.

Selective breeding has played an important role in producing healthier and more productive cows. The first herd book was set up by a breeder at Villars near the village of Magny-Cours in 1864 for the Holstein breed. Heifers born on dairy farms are mostly reared for potential cow replacements rather than for meat production.

This research paper addresses the hypothesis that cow introductions in dairy herds affect milk production and behaviour of animals by taking into account various factors such as herd size, year, age, season, lactation length, days dry, days open and calving interval into consideration. The aim is to optimize cow and herd welfare in Asian countries by understanding dairy cow behaviour better.

Adaptability to Climate Changes

The dairy sector in Pakistan has been facing severe challenges and threats due to changing climatic conditions and inadequate fodder availability. In order to assess the impact of climate change on the sector, research was conducted to estimate the effects of implementing on-farm adaptation strategies for two staple crops: wheat and rice.

To have a better understanding of the attitudes of farmers towards adaptation to climate change, a well-structured questionnaire was used to interview 450 dairy households from three agro-ecological zones of Punjab province.

Ruminants, pigs and poultry are all susceptible to heat stress due to their high metabolic rate and growth. Holstein–Friesian dairy cows are renowned for their milk production but highly vulnerable to heat stress (HS). When the ambient temperature is over certain threshold, these animals can suffer from excessive heat load.

Climate change can directly hamper livestock productivity by reducing their morphological adaptive trait which imparts their adaptive ability. Rising temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns also have a drastic effect on livestock production. ADB initiatives in Pakistan are thus focusing on developing sector-specific adaptation technologies that can help reduce climate risks. Further research is needed in order to identify any potential gaps in this field.

Health Issues of Cows in Pakistan

In Pakistan, Bovine diseases and syndromes such as mastitis, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), and hemorrhagic septicaemia are prevalent. These diseases are caused by Theileriosis, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis which are transmitted by blood-feeding insects. The clinical signs of these diseases include circular lesions on the skin of cattle and water buffaloes. In order to combat these issues, researchers have studied the genetic and environmental causes of variation in milk production traits of Sahiwal cattle. Other serious health issues in the country include Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Parturient Hemoglobinuria, Bovine Viral Diarrhea, and the spread of vector-borne diseases such as LSD.

In the US beef cattle industry there is a division between cow-calf producers and cattle feeding operations. The industry is also affected by persistent drought conditions which lead to reduced lactation periods and decreases in milk production quantity and quality. This has become a major issue for global cattle business with embargoes on international trade being imposed in response.

Disease Resistant Capacity in Pakistani Cows

Pakistan is home to a variety of cattle breeds, each with its own unique traits and advantages. The dry period for most breeds is generally 2-3 months, while the calving interval ranges from 13-15 months. Among these breeds, the Sahiwal breed of zebu cattle symbolizes the best germplasm in terms of disease resistance and adaptability to heat. In Balochistan and North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) buffalo meat is preferred to the cattle beef, as it is considered to be free of disease.

Cattle are an important species for livestock production and play a significant role in human culture. Unfortunately, four main TBDs (anaplasmosis, babesiosis, theileriosis, and cowdriosis/heartwater) affect bovines globally. It is believed that disease resistance in cattle depends on several factors including adaptability and environmental conditions.

The population of buffaloes, cattle, and goats in Pakistan has been steadily increasing over time (Table 2). This increase highlights the remarkable revolution in Pakistan’s dairy sector which has led to self-sufficiency in dairy house temperatures. Shakir Umer Gujjar, president of Pakistan’s Dairy and Cattle Farmers Association based in Karachi said that this increase will help create a more efficient dairy sector.

Significance of Cows in Pakistani Culture and History

Cattle are an integral part of the Indian and Pakistani economy, providing food, labor, and other products. They are among the most important livestock species in the region due to their production capabilities and cultural significance. Local breeds such as the Red Sindhi are present in India and Pakistan, each with unique characteristics that have been bred over time. Cattle are often used as draft animals to plow fields, provide energy-dense muscle and milk, and other uses.

In Pakistan, livestock is mainly composed of cows, buffaloes, goats, and sheep. Meat is highly preferred by Pakistani consumers depending on culture and availability. Despite having a large population of dairy livestock in the country, Pakistan is ranked in the top five cattle-exporting countries globally. Commercial dairy farms typically consist of 30 animals with 70 percent being females including cows that produce milk which can be used for cheese-making or other products.

Recently 2,078 U.S cattle were shipped to Pakistan bringing new opportunities to the dairy sector due to their unique characteristics regarding welfare standards for both dogs and cattle in terms of health care needs and humane management practices such as housing conditions. The shipment will help boost agricultural productivity for local farmers who depend on cattle for their livelihoods.

Popular Domestic Breeds in Pakistan

Pakistan is home to a variety of cattle breeds, including the Sahiwal, Cholistani, Red Sindhi, Achai, Bhagnari, Dajal, Dhanni, Gibrali, Kankraj, Lohani and Rojhan. These breeds are used for milk and dairy production as well as draft purposes. The physical characteristics of the breed vary from breed to breed. The Sahiwal cattle have a massive jet-black body with broad horns that are shaped like fishhooks at the base and taper up and inwards. The Red Sindhi cows have a grey-white colour with darker shades on their forequarters and hindquarters in males. Adult females tend to be more whitish in appearance. Meanwhile, Bhagnari cattle are known for their strong bodies suitable for work purposes such as ploughing fields or transporting goods over long distances.

The dung excreted by these breeds also helps provide valuable insight into their genetic makeup and relationship to milk production. This information can be used to classify the various breeds based on their history and local aurochs contribution. Furthermore, it can help us understand how genetic and environmental factors influence body weight and reproduction.

Challenges Faced by the Cow Ownership in Pakistan

Buffaloes and cows are the major milk-producing animals in Pakistan, with 55 million smallholder farmers responsible for the bulk of production. Poor milk yields from indigenous breeds remain constant at 1800 L for buffaloes and 1195 L for cows. This low yield per cow negatively impacts the national production, leading to issues with quality and adulteration. Sheep, on the other hand, are widely present in central and northern Pakistan and their wool is exported in large quantities. Among local cow breeds, the Tharparkar is found in Tharparkar District of Sind (Pakistan) and Kutch, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer desert area of India. Bullocks are slow workers while cows can produce better yields but often face calving difficulties that lead to lighter calves with higher mortality rates. In order to combat these issues, a comprehensive action plan was approved with specific timelines and interventions outlined to address yield gaps and particular issues.


This paper evaluates the morphological characteristics of a cattle breed under two different farming systems. Physical characteristics of the breed include a massive jet-black body, broad horns at the base that taper up and inward in a fish hook shape. Male cattle were found to have higher height at withers, chest girth, and length compared to females.

Sahiwal cattle have been appreciated for their dairy qualities and were once ordinary draft animals. Numerous factors are involved in improving livestock prospects, such as large cattle populations, huge agricultural production for economic traits, and proper animal husbandry management. In Pakistan there is no specific breed of beef-cattle, so understanding the productivity of existing stock is important for maintaining unique traits for dairy and beef production.

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