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Cattle any large, even-toed hoofed, ruminant mammal of the genus Bos, family Bovidae. Domestic cattle mostly descended from the wild aurochs (European Ox, now extinct). Domestication of cattle and their propagation at the world level started in the Neolithic ages in about 2000 BC. Bos indicus and Bos taurus are the two distinct species of cattle. B. indicus, the Indian Zebu (humped) is available in the Indian subcontinent, characterized in general by lower growth rate, smaller size, late sexual maturity, poor production, and prone to parasitic attack but resistant to some infectious diseases. On the other hand B. taurus (temperate cattle) is characterized by medium to heavy size, early sexual maturity, and has high production potentialities in terms of meat and milk. Cattle has multipurpose functions; it is used for traction of lands and cartage and produces milk and meat. Cow dung is used as manure and as fuel, and a substrate for methane production. Cattle hides and skin are used for clothing, bags, shoes etc. In Bangladesh the total cattle population is about 23.4 million of which 11.91 million are males and 11.49 million are females. Included among the cattle population are about 3.53 million milking cows, 2.61 million dry cows (cows without milk), 2.13 million draught cattle, and 4.20 million improved cattle.

Since the 1960s, the people of Bangladesh have been rearing three categories of cattle viz pure breed, crossbreed, and local. The pure breed and the crossbreed cattle have high nutritional requirement, less adaptability, and are susceptible to parasitic infestation and diseases compared to the local variety. On the other hand, the local variety is less prone to diseases and is heat tolerant. In Bangladesh the best local cattle are available in some selected areas viz Pabna, Sirajganj, Chittagong, and Munshiganj areas. In Pabna and Sirajganj area medium type cattle are seen, known as Pabna cattle.

A Pabna cow can produce 3-5 liter of milk per day. In Chittagong a beautiful red cattle with some distinct characteristics are seen; it is known as Red Chittagong Cattle and may produce about 2 litre milk. In Munshiganj area a type known as White Munshiganj Cattle has also some distinct phenotypic characteristics.

Cattle breed Relatively homogeneous variety or group of dairy cattle within a species having similar appearance and usually developed by deliberate selection. No specific cattle breed has yet been established in Bangladesh. But with the long natural selection some improved indigenous varieties of cattle exist in the country. This results from the centenary selection of better animals for increasing milk production. These improved varieties are Pabna Cattle, Red Chittagong, Munshiganj Cattle, and North Bengal Grey Cattle. Their production potentiality is higher as compared to average overall performance of the common local cattle in Bangladesh.

Of about 23.4 million cattle heads in Bangladesh, most are non-descriptive indigenous Zebu (humped) type multipurpose animals. The average milk yield being about 206 kg/lactation/cow. Cattle are almost evenly distributed with a little higher concentration in northern part of the country. They are the good source of milk, meat, and draught power; cow dung is used as manure and fuel. The local variety has some good criteria, viz resistant to diseases and parasites, efficient to utilise low quality roughages, and well-adapted to harsh environmental conditions.

To improve the production potentialities of the local cattle, efforts were made to cross breed with different exotic breeds several times in the past. The introduced breeds are Holstein-Friesian, Jersy, Sahiwal, Harians, Sindhi, Australian, Sahiwal-Friesian, etc. A number of exotic pure breeds, their crossbreeds, and up-graded cattle are found in the government dairy farms, commercial dairy farms, milk pocket area, and in urban and semi-urban areas of Bangladesh.

Anestrus cattle Cows showing a state of complete sexual inactivity with no manifestations of estrus or the period of heat. It is not a disease but a sign of a variety of physiological conditions, that may be observed before puberty, during pregnancy, and lactation, and even in seasonal breeders.

Anestrus may be caused by seasonal changes in the physical environment, nutritional deficiencies, lactation, stress, and aging. During seasonal anestrus there are no cyclic changes in the ovaries and the reproductive tract. The extent of seasonal anestrus varies with species, breed and physical environment, and is less pronounced in cattle than sheep and horses.

The incidence and duration of anestrus period of cattle are influenced by the season of parturation, level of milk production, number of young being nursed, and the degree of post-partum involution of the uterus. Normally, ovarian activity is reestablished in a milked cow within 30 days postpartum. During periods of high temperature and on poor diets local Brahman cows that are nursing calves may show anestrus. Abnormal corpora lutea and ovaries lacking corpora lutea accounted for over 80% of cases of infertility in cows of 14 to 15 years old. Energy level has a significant effect on ovarian activity. Inadequate nutrition suppresses estrus in young growing females more than adults. This condition is more prevalent in Bangladesh. Low levels of energy lead to ovarian inactivity and anestrus in beef cows that have suckling calves. Deficiencies of minerals and vitamins may cause anestrus.

Various forms of environmental stresses such as climate, high population density, or excessive handling during the premating period may depress estrus, ovulation and luteal function in cow. In Bangladesh most cows are not spared from use as draught animals; as such many of them show evidence of anestrus.

Cattle farming in a char [Courtesy: Amanul Huq]

Cattle farming The business of raising bovine animals, especially domesticated members of the genus Bos. Cattle farming is a way of rearing cattle for profitable production of milk and meat. It is also a systematic way of cattle management which deals with proper feeding, breeding, and housing of the cattle and also taking preventive measures against diseases and parasitic infestations. However, in Bangladesh cattle is mostly reared as a component of traditional crop-based mixed farming or as a source of traction power and manure.

In Bangladesh the number of cattle per farm and system of cattle management vary with farm sizes. Four types of farms are generally recognised, depending on the land size: very small (less than 0.5 acre), small (0.51 to 2.00 acre), medium (2.01 to 5.0 acre), and large (above 5.0 acre). The large farm size group usually has more cattle due to availability of more feed.

About 17.7% of households keep draught cattle. Milch cows are kept by about 16.01% of households but most of them own only one cow. Keeping of more than 2 milch cows are very rare. Some people use both conventional and non-conventional feed ingredients for fattening yearling bull calves. In addition they use feed supplements such as green grass, wheat bran, rice bran, rice gruel, urea molasses block, urea molasses straw etc. In recent years, a number of mini-commercial dairy and beef farms have been established, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas of Bangladesh.

Crossbred cow Dairy cattle obtained from a cross between individuals of two genetically different breeds. Crossbred cows usually exceed the average performance levels of potential pure-breds and thus play an important role in livestock improvement. They have enough economic importance in terms of total production potentialities. Crossbred cattle exhibit greater reproductive fitness than their parents.

A successful crossbred may show 14 to 24 percent more total lactation than pure breeds. It has also been recorded that crossbred have greater livability in comparison to pure breeds (losses from birth to calving were 17.4 percent for pure breeds, and 8.2 percent for crossbreds). For these advantages, Bangladesh undertook innumerable attempts to improve the milk production capacity of zebu cattle through crossbreeding with Bos taurus breeds. Crossbreds of Bangladesh include Sahiwal Pabna cross, Friesian Pabna cross, Sahiwal Local cross, and Friesian cross, and their milk production are 1240, 1460, 728 and 1800 litres per lactation, respectively. But the major problem with crossbreeding is recording of crosses of the individual animals. This means that record keeping is important for maintaining the percentage of crosses as well as performance. The breeding merit of crossbred animals may be slightly reduced because of the heterozygous nature of their genetic composition, and the fact that all animals transmit only a sample half of their own parental traits to their offsprings. In Bangladesh, crossbred cattle cannot achieve their production potentialities properly due to harsh environmental conditions, non-availability of green fodder and forage, unskilled management, and lack of knowledge about health care. In fact, crossbred cattle has a higher nutritional requirement and better adaptability than pure breeds.

Cattle feed Food used for raising bovine animals such as cows, bull, and bullocks. Livestock, being one of the major components of the farming systems, plays vital role in agriculture. In an intensive agrarian country like Bangladesh, feed resources for ruminants are derived mainly from crop residues, cereal by-products, shrubs, fodder trees, and grasses growing in wayside bunds and embankment.

The available cattle feeds in Bangladesh can be grouped into agro-industrial by-products which include agricultural crop residues such as straws, sugarcane tops, bagasse etc; by-products from agroindustries eg molasses, oil-cakes, pineapple wastes, shrimp waste, etc; and milling by-products such as brans. Green roughage include non-cultivated indigenous grasses grown on road side, embankment, bunds etc; leaves of the jack fruit and mango tree, ipil ipil, etc; and aquatic plants such as water hyacinths, dol grass, azolla, duck weed etc. Cultivated fodder includes both perennials, such as Napier, Para, German, Splendida, Andropogon, and Gamboo grasses; and seasonal crops such as maize, cowpea, khesari, oat, sunhemp, etc.

The bulk of the roughages for ruminant feeding is derived from crop residues of rice, wheat, pulse, etc. Tree leaves, indigenous grasses, and cultivated fodder contribute little to the bulk. The total area for Bhadoi and Rabi fodder is about 6,312 ha, producing only about 47,000 m tons of fodder crops. Very little grain is available for feeding the animals in the country. It is estimated that about 190,000 m tons of grain is available for livestock feeding, contributing only about 15.7 percent of the total amount of concentrate feed.

Beef fattening The process of increasing the health and weight conditions of beef cattle through improved methods of feeding and maintenance. The livestock resources of Bangladesh are mainly based on cattle, goat, sheep, buffalo, and poultry. Although cattle concentration per unit area is high, their productivity is low mainly due to inadequate feed supply and low genetic potentiality. As a result their growth performance is very poor. Planned beef fattening programmes are usually not practiced in Bangladesh, although adopting such programmes is essential to meet the need for animal protein. Moreover, being a Muslim country, Bangladesh experiences a seasonal demand of beef cattle during eid-ul azha. About 1.8 million cattle are sacrificed at this time each year.

Beef in Bangladesh usually comes from unproductive old aged bullock, cows, culled animals of the farm, and partly, animals brought from India. Some 10-12% of total beef comes from growing animals. During Eid-ul Azha people generally prefer sacrificing healthy animals. Recently, many farmers have setup mini-dairy farms with improved (native cattle crossing with exotic) animals. Simultaneously, some farmers have taken advantage of planned beef fattening programmes to have improved breed male calves developed by a scientifically improved feeding system.

Information on beef fattening programme in Bangladesh is rather scanty. Generally, using conventional and non-conventional feed ingredients on yearling bull calves results in a daily weight gain of about 1.0 kg for the cattle. On the other hand, yearling local cattle of approximately 98 kg body weight shows a growth rate of 450g/day when fed urea molasses based on straw technology developed by the bangladesh livestock research institute (BLRI). Although, beef fattening activities in Bangladesh are increasing day by day, productivity in existing feeds, feeding and management systems are not yet well established.

Pasture land Ground covered with grass or herbage used for the grazing of livestock. Land unsuited for cultivation eg, hilly or stony land, fallow land etc may be used as pasture. Tilled land and meadow may be pastured after the crops are removed. In Bangladesh there is no well-defined pasture area. Communal grazing areas along forest margins are often noticed.

There are about 6,26,000 ha of cultivable waste land mostly in the form of roadsides, embankments and communal fallow. Although these areas are used as pasture for all kinds of ruminants, these are not maintained for improving its yield. Productivity of this pasture is seasonal and can yield up to 20 m tons of fresh biomass per hectare per cutting during monsoon. While during the dry periods (December-April) there is little or no yield in the pasture. These pastures comprise of low biomass yielding native grasses mostly, Cyanidon dactylon. Chemical composition of mixed growths varies with season. Metabolisable energy and protein (10-21%) content of these pastures are relatively better than conventional straw.

However, there are some very well-defined seasonal pasture land locally called Bathan in the greater Pabna district. Bathan is a basin-like area of about 6000 ha along the river Boral and Gohala. This area goes under water during the monsoon, but remain dry from November to April. Bathan is a unique source of seasonal legume fodder for the ruminant. black gram (Vigna mungo) and grass pea (Lathyrus sativa) are the major forage species usually broadcast into deposited river bed with zero tillage. Biomass yield of these legumes ranges from 4-60 m tons/ha. Farmers directly graze their cows on the legume pasture from November to March. After this season Bathan becomes covered with natural grasses until floodwater comes. Similar system of pasture also exists is Munshiganj and Takerhat areas of the country. Cattle of these areas are quite productive and are the major source of milk for the Milk Vita Cooperative. [Quazi M Emdadul Huque]

Parasites and diseases Among the parasites, Amphistome, a group of digenetic trematodes of the order Digenea, characterized by one anterior and one posterior sucker, are important. They have, moreover, relatively thick, fleshy bodies; and are somewhat conical in shape. A large ventral pouch may be present. The anterior sucker sometimes has a pair of posterior pockets. A pharynx is absent, but the oesophagus is present and the intestinal caeca are simple. The genital pore opens ventrally, median in the anterior third. The lobed testes lie in front of the ovary. In domestic animals, large number of species have been recorded from the rumen and reticulum of ruminants and some species occur in the large intestine of ruminants, pigs, equines, and man. They may also infest bile ducts and the urinary bladder of the host. Some common species found in Bangladesh are mentioned below:

Paramphistomum cervi is called rumen-fluke because the adults are found in the rumen (pouch) or reticulum (honey comb) of sheep, cattle and other ruminants. The immature flukes, however, settle in the duodenum and move up to the rumen or reticulum.

Gastrothylax crumenifer occurs in the rumen and reticulum of sheep, cattle and buffaloes. This fluke has a very large ventral pouch, opening anteriorly and extending over the whole ventral surface up to the posterior sucker, which is large and terminal, and has a raised border.

Gastrodiscoides hominis is the common amphistome of pig and frequently occurs in man. The worm inhabits the caecum and large intestine of its host.

Outbreaks of amphistomiasis generally occur in the drier months. The snail population gets concentrated around areas of natural water, and these areas, in the dry months, also have the most palatable grazing and thus there is a concentration of animals, snails, and metacercariae over a small area, leading to heavy infections.

Ascariasis A condition resulting from infestation by Ascaris lumbricoides, a nematode parasite of the family Ascaridae. The parasite, commonly known as roundworm, has undoubtedly been one of the man's most faithful and constant companions from time immemorial, probably since he began domesticating pigs. A. lumbricoides is a large nematode that lives in the small intestine of man and pig. The parasite may cause abdominal discomfort and acute colic pains, vomiting, etc, even bile duct or intestinal obstruction may result if the number of parasites are numerous. In Bangladesh rural children up to ages of 12 to 14 are more commonly infected.

Toxocara vitulorum causes ascariasis in young cattle and buffaloes. The parasite contributes significantly to buffalo calfhood mortality. About 85% of buffalo calves are reported to suffer from this deadly disease in certain parts of Bangladesh.

Babesiosis A disease of domestic and wild animals characterized by extensive erythrocyte lysis leading to anaemia, jaundice, and haemoglobinuria (red blood pigment in urine).

The disease caused by ptotozoan parasites of the genus Babesia is transmitted by a variety of tick species. Babesia bigemina infecting cattle above 2 years of age is frequently reported; incidence is around 0.3 per cent in the country. Only in few occasions it has been reported from buffaloes. B. bovis is also sporadically reported from cattle. Babesia equi has been recorded in horses and donkeys in Bangladesh. The known vector is Rhipicephalus sanguineus. In dogs Babesia gibsoni and B. canis have been reported in the country.

Haemonchosis A condition produced by the infection of some nematode parasites in cattle, goats, sheep, etc. Species of Haemonchus, Mecistocirrus, Ostertagia, and Trichostrongylus are commonly involved in Haemonchosis. These worms are collectively known as stomach worm of ruminants.

Hydatidosis (Echinococcosis) Infestation of hydatid cyst produced by the immature tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. The adult parasite lives in the small intestine of dogs and other carnivores, and the larval stages, echinococcus cysts or hydatid cysts, in the vital organs (liver, lungs, spleen, heart, kidney, etc) of domesticated animals. Hydatid disease has a great public health hazard in Bangladesh, particularly in rural areas, where a close association exists between man and domestic animals. The hydatid disease is recorded in 42.15% of cattle, 45.23% of buffaloes, 54.98% of sheep and 8.29% of goats. The hydatid cysts were also reported in 1 person out of 17 operated cases in one medical hospital.

Schistosomiasis Infestation with flukes Schistosoma (Trematoda, Digenea, Schistosomatidae), which live in the blood vessels of ruminants, pigs, dogs, cats, and man, who can become a host through skin contact with water contaminated by the intermediate host snails.

Several species of Schistosoma including S. nasalis, S. spindale, S. indicum and S. bovis have been recorded from Bangladesh. Common snail intermediate hosts are Lymnea auricularia and Planorbis planorbis. The disease causes anaemia, inflammation, formation of scar tissue, dysentery, enlargement of spleen and liver, cancer of the bladder, and cirrhosis of liver. Cattle (62%), buffalo (100%) and sheep and goats (10-12%) are reported to be infected with visceral schistosomiasis in Bangladesh.

Stephanofilariasis (Humpsore) A filarial disease of cattle caused by a minute nematode parasite, Stephanofilaria assamensis. About 95% of adult cattle are affected by this disease in low-lying areas of certain parts of Bangladesh but not reported in hilly areas of the country, because of the non-availability of the intermediate host fly. The disease is said to cause gradual deterioration of animal health, impaired performance in work, diminished milk production, and reduction of market value of the animals and its hides. The affected animals remain restless due to irritation at the sores. In Bangladesh the disease is transmitted through 3 species of haematophagous flies (Musca conducens, M. ventrosa and Haematobia exigua) depending upon the seasons of the year. Only one species of Stephanofilaria has so far been reported in Bangladesh.

Tuberculosis An infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It may affect any organ or tissue of the body, but most commonly affects the respiratory system. The two characteristic types of tissue reactions are the oxidative acute inflammation and proliferative tubercle formation. fish, amphibians, birds and mammals (especially the cattle) are the subjects to the disease.

There are three types of the bacteria- human, bovine and avian, which cause diseases in warm-blooded animals. Any of the bovine, human or avian strains of M. tuberculosis may cause tuberculosis in man, in horse, goat, and sheep.

The disease has been reported from wild animals while in captivity. It has also been reported from wild birds, monkeys, apes, and deer. Deer is affected with bovine type bacillus and monkeys and apes with human types. Tuberculosis occurs in fowls, koel, pigeons, ducks, geese and many other wild birds. The disease in poultry and birds is essentially the same as in chicken. The parakeets may be infected with the human type of the bacteria. [AWM Shamsul Islam; Sheikh Hefazuddin and Md Hafezur Rahman]