By Patrice Lopatin
Vechur cattle originated in the area around the village of Vechur in the southwest state of Kerala, India. The tiny gentle cows were so greatly valued that at one time wellwishers presented them as wedding gifts.
These native cattle have been rescued from the brink of extinction by geneticist Dr. Sosamma Iype. Dr. Iype received help from her students who volunteered to search for the last remaining cattle in remote areas and temples, where they had been protected from government policies that forbade people to own them.
First eight and then later twenty-five individual cattle were found to help preserve the precious germplasm for future generations. Over twenty-five years of dedicated hard work has been done to save these cows. Many formidable impediments and obstacles stood in the way; however ,the outcome was ultimately a success story: the Vechur Conservation Trust was created in 1998.
Now there is a wide appreciation for the great value of these little cows and their numbers are gradually being built up so that marginal farmers and others may benefit from the nourishing milk and other dairy products they provide.
A SPECIAL BREED
Their exceptionally small, manageable size (about the size of a large goat breed), and pleasant disposition (they are often considered a family pet) plus a very long, productive life span make these cattle of particular value and winsomeness. They are intelligent, hearty, clean, disease resistant and adapted to high heat conditions, being native to tropical Kerala, India.
Vechur cows are not prone to mastitis, parasites, or hoof and mouth disease, and they calve easily. The milk of Vechur cattle is outstanding, with a butterfat content of up to five percent, and with a smaller fat globule size from that of other dairy breeds, making the milk easily digestible. This milk is considered to have extraordinary medicinal properties and there has been some research claiming that the milk from such cattle helps lower the risk of many chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, autism, allergies, schizophrenia, SIDS, and cardiac disease.
The Vechur breed carries the A2 beta casein gene variant which has been linked to a lower incidence of the conditions mentioned above. See web references 1 and 2 below for more information.
The daily milk yield is between three to four quarts (three to four liters). The Vechur does not require much grazing space (only a quarter acre per cow), and no grain supplementation is necessary. These cows will be happy to eat a wide variety of vegetation (some of which is extremely fibrous and tough), along with grass, banana peels and other kitchen vegetative leftovers!
The Vechur cattle can also be used as draft animals and due to their small size, do not have a damaging impact on the land. Their manure does not smother the plant life in fields due to its shape and dry consistency. It is easier to handle than manure from large cows and it breaks down easily into compost. Even their urine has special properties that make it ideal for growing culinary mushrooms!
In this period of escalating climate change it is crucial to preserve such animals for current and future generations. Vechur cattle are a crucial element in maintaining the planet’s bio-diversity.
OWNING A VECHUR
Owning a Vechur is a step towards sustainability and independence from the denatured food being turned out by factory farming with genetically altered, inhumanely treated, sickly animals that require antibiotics to be kept alive for their short and miserable lives.
Corn and soy-laden grain exact a high cost financially, environmentally and are a detriment to health.
Here is the perfect cow for individuals and families, one that does not represent a huge carbon footprint and can provide you with healthy, rich raw milk.
Donations are needed to purchase more land for breeding stock in this very crowded part of India, where open land is scarce and expensive. Animal caregivers need to be paid and a high-tech facility for the freezing of semen and embryos needs to be established so that one day this amazing cow will be available for all who want one!
3. Video about the Vechur: http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/26833/vechur-back-from-brink-of-extinction.html
Patrice Lopatin is a conservationist/environmentalist, trained chef, organic gardener, artist, writer of commentaries. She studies nutrition, sustainability, and animal behavior/intelligence. Patrice has run a whole foods nature retreat in Goshen, Vermont called High Meadow and visited India for several months as a volunteer assisting Dr. Iype and the Trust in any way possible. The author will be interviewed on local television in the next few months and a Youtube video will be made available with photos and film footage. To learn more about the history of the rescue of Vechur cattle, visit http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/26833/vechur-back-from-brink-of-extinction.html
This article appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.