Milch Cattle

Based on thorough investigations, we are duty-bound to acknowledge times have changed. Our milk no longer comes from cows reared on agricultural fields or from the breed of cattle that plough the land, but from dairies where cows are specially bred for high milk yields. In short, research institutions and dairies in India shockingly treat cows as inanimate milk producers. They are kept repeatedly pregnant through artificial insemination and spend their lives battling diseases on concrete floors. No cows and bullocks will be slaughtered just because we stop consuming milk. But, a fall in demand will mean a lesser number of milch cows will be bred, calves will not suffer, and people will not consume antibiotic laden milk products.

Every one in India knows of the over-successful “Operation Flood” programme launched in 1970. According to 2009 figures given by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) out of India’s 100 million livestock, 47 million were buffaloes, 11 million were cross-breeds and 45 million were indigenous cattle. And, according to the data released by the 19th Livestock Census, 2012, the total cattle population dropped by 4.10% over the 2007 census from 199.075 billion to 190.90 billion. The population of exotic/cross-bred cows had gone up from 33 billion to 39.73 billion but the number of such bulls had fallen by 12.75% while the gritty females had gone up by 28.75%. The desi cows also showed a similar gender imbalance with the dip being sharper among these bulls coming down 19.32% as compared to 0.01% among females. The country’s population of such indigenous cattle fell by 8.94% where as the population of the cross-breeds or exotic cattle went up by 20.18%.

We have the largest cattle and buffalo population in the world and our milk production is also the highest. In 2008 the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) stated that the annual quantity was 104.8 million tonnes. Milk procurement in India had risen 9.7% with dairy co-operatives acquiring about 9.2 million tonnes of milk during the year. Nevertheless, in 2010 the Government formulated a Rs 1,73,000 crore National Dairy Plan to increase milk production 65% by 2021-22.

Accordingly during 2021-22 India produced close to 221.1 million tonnes of milk; and exported 67,572.99 MT worth Rs. 2,269.85 crores of milk products during 2022-23.

The state-wise percentage of average farming household income from animal husbandry (mainly sale of milk) is given below, the all India average for which is 11.87%:



West Bengal  

Telangana 5.93
Jammu & Kashmir 6.32
Karnataka 6.79
Maharashtra 7.30
Bihar 7.84
Punjab 9.18
Uttar Pradesh 11.03
Madhya Pradesh 11.79
Assam 11.93
Rajasthan 13.16
Tamil Nadu 15.76
Haryana 18.32
Gujarat 24.35




From 3 animals farmers sell about 14-15 litres of milk daily – one freshly calved producing 10-12 litres, the second 5-6 months pregnant giving 3-4 litres and the third gone dry but ready to deliver just when the second stops lactating. The milk is picked up by institutions such as Amul (144 lakh litres a day), Hatsun or Mother Dairy ensuring round the year income. In 2015-16 milk production was 421.67 million tonnes of which 160.35 lakh litres per day were procured by cooperatives –10.7% higher than the previous year’s procurement. However, it should be remembered that they procure no more than one-tenth of the milk produced in India. In 2016 both Amul and Mother Dairy plan to increase consumer loyalty by launching mobile apps.

Interestingly, the Mother Dairy procures only around 22 lakh litres per day and resorts to reconstitution of milk powder for another 6 lakh litres which costs Rs 3 per litre. The total production of milk powder and casein in 2010 was around 300,000 metric tonnes. India also exported large quantities of casein (35 litres of skimmed milk produce 1 kg casein), and in August-December 2009 as much as 7,000 metric tonnes of casein was exported. Despite this, NDDB is persistently geared towards import of skimmed milk and imported 30,000 tonne in 2009-10 along with 15,000 tonne of butter oil to meet shortages against the backdrop of rising milk prices. No wonder NDDB is perceived in sections as a milk merchant than the nodal dairy development agency it is meant to be.

At the end of 2010 it was declared that the annual growth in the price of milk was 20% with a rising demand of 7%. And, one of the ways to meet this created demand in the domestic and foreign markets was by improving the breed by importing semen from US, Canada and Australia.

India exports about Rs 1,000 crore worth of milk products annually. However, in order to rein in rising prices and noting that during 2010 the export of casein had jumped to nearly 40,000 metric tonnes worth Rs 500 crores, in February 2011, the Government of India some what rectified the issue by imposing a ban on export of milk powder and casein. Again, NDDB was allowed to import 30,000 tonnes of milk powder and 15,000 tonnes of butter and butter oil at zero duty.

Later on in May 2012 political pressure resulted in lifting the ban on export of casein, but it was linked to the import of Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP): permission was given to dairies to import 2.5 kgs SMP duty-free in return for exporting 1 kg casein. 12 litres of milk produce 1 kg of SMP and 35 litres produce 1 kg of casein – so who gains? Not the cows for sure! Strangely following the February 2012 government ban on export of SMP, stocks were estimated at 80,000 to 1 lakh tonne, over and above the country’s requirement till the next season. No wonder then that a subsidy of Rs 2 per litre was unacceptable and the Maharashtra State Co-operative Milk Producers Federation threatened to stop trade.

Then in October 2012, the Union Ministry of Agriculture proposed to use existing excess stock of 1.12 lakh tonne of SMP in government’s midday meal scheme. The reason being that only 12,000 tonnes had been exported bringing in Rs 130-150 per kg, whereas the minimum rate to cover production costs incurred by dairies was Rs 185 per kg.

Some months later, by May 2013 data indicated that all-India milk prices had risen 62% in 54 months. The annual growth in milk production was 3.9%, not 5% as targeted. As before, about 7% growth in demand continued to be the assumed consumption. Over the last five years India imported 0.12 million tonnes (mt) of milk solids, which was equivalent to hardly 1 mt of milk. But during the same period India exported 0.6 mt of milk powder and casein which was the equivalent of 5 mt of milk. This proved there was no shortage as widely envisioned – the price rise was simply due to increased input costs and farmers being paid more.


Moreover, only 18% of the estimated 127.9 mt of milk produced had being processed through the organised sector, which was divided equally between co-operatives and the private sector. Interestingly, the fast expanding private sector consisted of global companies like Fonterra, Danone, London Dairy, Dairy Lite and Baskin Robbins in the high-end milk products segment. These were in addition to longstanding Indian private sector companies like Hatsun Agro, Paras, Saras, Britannia, Nestle, Reliance, Fresh (Big Bazaar) and Pure (Jaypee). And last but not least Amul, the brand of the Gujarat Co-op Milk Marketing Federation.

Earlier, in August 2011, in view of milk prices continuing to rise (having almost doubled in two years) and the demand growing at 7-8% annually, the government announced a “national dairy plan to increase per cow milk production through artificial insemination”. The plan would promote research and development of semen to give birth to high milk producing cattle and improve fodder production to meet the needs of the new breed of cows. Implementation would begin from financial year 2012 with help from the World Bank for a long term 15 year project costing Rs 17,300 crore. Thus the 6-year first phase of the National Dairy Plan (NDP) “Mission Milk” having a financial outlay of Rs 2,242 crore was launched in April 2012 at the headquarters of the National Dairy Development Board, Anand. The scheme aimed to double India’s milk production even though India was the world’s largest milk producer since 1998. Implementation began in the 14 major milk producing states: AP, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, TN, UP and WB. In other words, the percentage of milch animals bred through artificial insemination would begin rising from 20 to 35%, reaching 4 million artificial insemination deliveries per annum by the end of the NDP. For example in 2012 the Animal Husbandry Department (Punjab) bought an initial 5,000 doses of sex-specific semen from the US and Canada and for inseminating cattle. 95% of the calves born were female so farmers need not bother about disposing off male calves – machines now plough fields. Sale of 50,000 doses at Rs 600 each followed.

The NDP outlay of Rs 130.71 crore for the year 2012-13 covers 49 proposals pertaining to progeny testing, pedigree selection, strengthening of semen stations, ration balancing programme, fodder development and village-based milk procurement systems from 8 states.

Milk production in India is unfortunately rising:
2009-10        116.43 tonnes
2010-11        121.85 tonnes
2011-12        127.29 tonnes

The top 10 milk producing states in tonnes:

State 2009-10 2010-11
Uttar Pradesh 21.03 20.2
Rajasthan 13.23 12.33
Andhra Pradesh 11.2 10.43
Punjab 9.42 9.39
Gujarat 9.32 9.84
Madhya Pradesh 8.04 7.68
Maharashtra 7.51 7.17
Tamil Nadu 6.83 6.79
Bihar 6.52 6.12
Haryana 6.27 6.01

Interestingly, Rajasthan state that produces 10% of milk (and meat) produced in India ranks first in producing more than 93% of cow milk from indigenous cows and second in India’s total milk production and capita availability of milk.

The following states are the top five in terms of growth in milk production:

Andhra Pradesh  41%
Rajasthan 28%
Kerala   24.8%
Karnataka   24%
Gujarat 23.7%

The per capita availability of milk in grams per day (2009-10) in states as sourced from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Government of India:

Punjab 914
Gujarat 414
Haryana 662
Rajasthan 355
Himachal Pradesh 342
Andhra Pradesh 342
Maharashtra 190

Despite these facts and figures, there is a needless strong desire to further enhance milk production using so-called novel ideas. As stated in a 2013 newspaper report, the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in association with the beer company SABMiller India in Andhra Pradesh launched the “Spent Malt Programme” giving the waste accumulated from the brewing process, as cattle-feed. The aim of increasing milk productivity was successfully met since it rose from 1 litre to 3-5 litres of milk per day. Within a few months beer waste (consisting of residue of malt and grain) needed advance booking consequently the number of contractors rapidly rose in different parts of India (more so in Kerala) and a new business was born at the expense of milch cattle.

There is a direct link between what cows eat and the milk (and eventually meat) they produce. A cow converts 1.5 kg fodder into a litre of milk. Intensive farming involves feeding cattle a hi-tech mix of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and enzymes. But most cattle in India are simply left to graze and remain underfed because farmers don’t trust read-made feed. At the most the cows are fed home-made oilseed cakes, millet/bajra and dry fodder. 90% of cows in India are desi and they yield only 4 to 10 litres of milk as compared to 40 litres per day from cross-bred ones that are given artificial feeds. Over and above the reluctance of farmers, the desi cows themselves are fussy about what they consume! A couple of examples: a cow in Kerala won’t eat mustard seed cake; a Rajasthan cow loves the slightly bitter guar gum cake, but this cake is refused by cows of Gujarat and Maharashtra. However, all over the country, cows happily eat the more expensive cottonseed cake and molasses mixture.

Talking of desi cows, a slew of measures including creation of exclusive dairy plants for them, empowering organisations to take action against illegal smuggling and slaughter, and the production of fodder under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGRA) were announced by the Government of India in May 2016. A plan was being put in place to ensure that gauchar bhoomi (grazing land for cows even in the periphery of jungles) is protected and government programmes under MGNREGRA are utilised to produce grass for cows which can be given free to farmers and gaushalas.

As mentioned above according to the data released by the 19th Livestock Census, 2012, the country’s population of indigenous or desi cattle fell by 8.94%, in view of which in July 2014 the Government of India launched the Rashtriya Gokul Mission to “conserve and develop indigenous breeds in a focused and scientific manner” and set aside Rs 150 crore for the current financial year.

Yet, a growing trend of feeding non-veg to dairy cattle surfaced later in the year. Disastrous no doubt, because it results in mad cow disease. Like aquaculture farmers of coastal Andhra Pradesh, feeding biryani to shrimp, chicken/mutton biryani was started as feed for milch animals in Medak district. Instinctively the animals refused to eat, but had it after it was mixed with bran and husk. The purpose of doing this was to increase the milk yield.

Teaching Exploitation

The National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research) in Haryana was the first in India to introduce a course in dairy technology. Others that also offer such education are: Dairy Science Institute – Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (College of Agricultural Engineering) – Jabablpur, Rajasthan Agricultural University College of Dairy Science – Udaipur, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences – Kolkata, and Kerala Agricultural University (College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences) – Thrissur.

Dairy technology at the above mentioned institutions includes subjects like milk production and bio synthesis, dairy chemistry, basic dairy microbiology, processing and propagation techniques, quality assurance of raw material and product, microbiology of dairy products and raw milk involving product defects, fluid milk products, fermented milks, effects of pre-treatments, cleaning and hygiene, preservation and possibilities of milk products. NOTE: not a word about the cow – she is considered an inanimate milk producer.

A graduate in dairy technology can pursue the masters’ degree in animal husbandry or dairy science/microbiology/chemistry. Related fields like dairy equipment manufacturing and technical consultancy are also recommended as “enormous job opportunities for young aspirants”. Dairy units suggested for working in India are Cadbury’s, Nestle, Glaxo Smith Kline, Vadilal, Amul and Verka; whereas Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark and the US are countries that hire dairy technologists in great numbers.

Milking Dry

Promotional material circulated from the website of the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) prior to Dairy Tech India 2011 (an International Exhibition & Conference on Dairy Products & Technologies), as part of the 3rd Edition of India Foodex 2011 in Bengaluru, states: “India ranks as the world’s largest milk producer with an annual output of 108.5 million tonnes. (15% more than the US and three times as much as the new growth champ, China.) With an annual growth rated of 4%, India’s milk production accounts for 15% of the total global output. … To match an estimated demand of 180 million tonnes of milk by 2021-22, NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) had drawn up a National Dairy Plan two years ago. The plan recommends a two pronged strategy. First, doubling of the milk production over a period of 15 years by improvement of milch animals and optimal use of feed and fodder in order to fully realize the improved genetic potential and secondly, increasing the share of marketable surplus of the organized sector, both cooperative and private dairies from 30% to 65%”.

The APEDA has also listed individual value-added milk products as follows:

Butter Fresh
Butter Oil
Milk & Cream in Powder
Other Fat
Other Milk Powder
Butter Milk
Fresh Cheese
Milk for Babies
Skimmed Milk Powder
Whole Milk

APEDA further states that “Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu (they forgot Uttar Pradesh!) are the major production areas of Dairy Products in India. Concentrated Dairy products such as skimmed milk continue to be the largest item of export, which together accounts for nearly 78% of net milk and milk products exports during the year 2008-09. The exports of Dairy Products reached 70146.77 MT from 69415.44 MT. India’s export of Dairy Products has increased from Rs 866.56 crores in 2007-08 to Rs 980.86 crores in 2008-09. The major destinations (2009-09): Egypt Arab Republic, UAE, Bangladesh, Algeria, Thailand.

In 2013 export of skimmed milk powder from India rose by 250% to 130,000 tonnes. But in 2014 exports first fell 37% and then declined by 50% to 64,000 tonnes. Despite APEDA’s efforts Russia placed no order as expected.

Exports of dairy products in ‘000 tonnes was:

FY 2011  37.4
FY 2012  25.6
FY 2013    87.8
FY 2014 159.3
FY 2015 66.4

The per capita domestic availability of milk (gm per day)

FY 2011  281
FY 2012  291
FY 2013    297
FY 2014 302
FY 2015 322

Glut and Greed

In 2012 the dairy market was said to be worth 2 lakh crore. New Delhi headquartered Sterling Agro’s presence was significant in North and Central India with a top-line of Rs 1,300 crore – in addition to marketing their own Nova and A One brands, they were supplying milk to companies (Britannia, Nestle and Cadbury) and retailers (Big Bazaar, Metro Cash & Carry) procuring it from a network of 1.5 lakh farmers across 120 chilling centres.


North India accounts for almost half the country’s milk production. UP’s milk output of 19% is on par with that of the entire South where the largest private dairy in the country belongs to the Hatsun Agro group famous for Arun ice creams and Arokya milk in Tamil Nadu – like the government run co-operatives they collect milk from 3 lakh farmers every day and have a network of 6,000 collection and 62 chilling centres across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 15 State Co-operative Milk Marketing Federations exist, and there are 170 Milk Producers Co-operative Unions of which Amul, Vijaya, Verka, Saras, Nandini, Milma and Gokul are well known.


The Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), famous for its Amul brand has been recording unprecedented high quantities of milk and is no longer restricting itself to procurement within Gujarat. In 2012 the GCMMF focused on improving productivity of milk in 16,000 villages of Gujarat, targeting a 25% increase (as against a consistent annual growth of 20% in the previous 5 years) in Amul’s turnover by FY2013. In the Rs 50,000 crore branded dairy sector, Amul leads with around 40% market share. No wonder then in 2015 the Amul Milk Card was launched in collaboration with the State Bank of India to facilitate purchases from Amul parlours in Ahmedabad. Amul had started with farmers supplying only 4 to 5 litres a day, but by 2015 farmers sold Amul 100 litres or more – 4,293 farmer-members across Gujarat were reported to own at least 30 milch animals and their supply represented over a tenth of Amul’s average procurement. It is a fast growing procurement because all the milk supplied is taken by the union.


Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh give special emphasis to cross-bred cow development programmes leading to enhanced milk production in these states. The average milk yield from local bred cows crossed with Holstein Friesian in Punjab is 40-55 litres per day. In January 2015 at Punjab’s Seventh National Livestock championship (where prizes worth Rs 1.25 crore are awarded under 64 categories like for horses, cows, buffaloes, bulls, dog, sheep and goat, with the best cows, buffaloes and horses getting Rs 2 lakh as the first prizes) a Holstein Friesian hybrid cow belonging to a dairy farm in Ludhiana broke the previous national record (58.88 kgs) by giving 61.8 kgs of milk a day.


In 2012 Maharashtra state excess milk was being purchased in bulk by Amul and Mother Dairy from private dairy owners, many of whom did not pay the minimum purchase price to farmers, but were willing to sell their milk in bulk. Dairies who bought in bulk from co-operatives earned more so the price did not rise. The state was producing from the organized sector 113 litres of milk daily. Of this 70 lakh was being sold in milk packets, 10 lakh used for making curd, ghee, etc, whereas 23 lakh was being turned into milk powder and white butter.

Despite the glut of around 10 lakh litres of milk in the state, there were plans to set up in Kolhapur district a milk park which will function in a similar way as the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation functions for industrial production. It would house 3,000 milch cattle on 300 acres by dividing the land into 100 plots of 10 acres each and on each plot sheds for 100 cows and buffaloes will be built and handed over on experimental basis to 30 selected farmers who will be trained in increasing milk production. Meanwhile, the pilot project was started by the Warana Dudh Sangh. (BWC wonders if excess milk was the reason why in December 2013 supporters of Maharashtra’s Labour Minister “purified” him following an ink attack by making him sit on a stool and pouring milk cans and tumblers of milk on him at Kolhapur.)

In 2012 foreign companies like Fonterra Co-operative Group of New Zealand also jumped into the fray because they felt that demand for milk in India was growing at 10% whereas supply was growing by only 2%. They began selling speciality ingredients and dairy products, and finding more opportunities for out-of-home dairy solutions and consumer brands.


In 2012 it was reported that the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had begun distributing free under a government scheme, 1 cross-bred Jersey cow and 4 goats to families in villages where there were no milk co-operatives. An expenditure of Rs 1,157 crore for 7 lakh such families had been earmarked. The facts behind this five year “white revolution” are interesting: cows were being purchased from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra – although AP imported cattle and one of its suppliers was TN! The project involved TN taking each beneficiary to AP to choose a cow, spending Rs 3,000 per person and cow transported. A day earlier, the TN cattle traders cunningly sold off old cows (those who had given birth 10 times, saying they were in their 1st or 2nd lactation cycle) to the sellers. This resulted in more than 25% cows that had been procured dropping dead soon after. The villagers could not afford to pay Rs 100 a day to feed the cow (millet and corn as such breeds are not fed natural fodder) or pay Rs 300 per visit to a Vet (such breeds fall sick often). The dead cows became raw material for the leather industry and the project resulted in benefiting them.


That’s not all, by the middle of the year (2012) there were indications that the then claimed to be Rs 232 crore free-cow-for-the-poor scheme, was dying. From across the state, several cases were reported of beneficiaries taking their cows to slaughterhouses, prompting officials to issue warnings. Others were disappointed with the cows they were given because they provided no more than a litre or two of milk although they had been promised an output of ten times as much.


Earlier in the 1990s the Fodder Scam exposed the siphoning out of an estimated Rs 950 crore from the Bihar state government treasury for purchase and distribution of fodder for non-existent cows, and chicken feed that cost crores.


The “Cattles & Ghee” Ponzi scheme attracted the attention of the SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) when they got to know that the HBN Diairies & Allied Ltd (Delhi) had mobilised Rs 745 crore against advances from customers as on 31 March 2011. Following complaints from investors and fearing a CIS (Collective Investment Scheme) being run without their approval, they began investigations, but have not managed to make much headway. The company was raising money from the public for purchase of cattle with a promise of at least doubling (dependent upon the price of cattle and ghee at the time) the investment at maturity which was offered up to nine years along with an option to withdraw in a month’s time!

Playing God

We have a shortage of 30% fodder to feed India’s cattle because the land for grazing and growing fodder is only 9% of the total agricultural area. (2 kilograms of grain needs to be fed to milch cows to produce the same amount of protein found in about 500 millilitres milk – the latest aim being to produce 1.6 litres of milk for every kilograms of feed.) Instead of curtailing the breeding of milch animals (or growing more fodder) government and private schemes are underway to further increase milk production. One such bizarre project is between the World Bank and the ICAR costing Rs 7 crore. It aims at developing technologies to enhance the population of high-yielding, elite buffalos. In its quest to increase milk production, scientists of the National Dairy Research Institute’s Animal Biotechnology Centre at Karnal (Punjab) first cloned a buffalo and called it Samrupa. Although this female calf died due to pneumonia six days after its birth, similar “experiments” continued using a new hand-guided cloning technique in which the sex of the calf could be determined. The second clone was aborted, however, a third cloned buffalo calf named Garima was in June 2009 successfully cloned from foetus tissue instead of taking tissue from the ear of a female buffalo as was the case last time. This “prized research material” (read buffalo calf) survived in an air-conditioned intensive care unit with round the clock care and weighed 170 kgs as against 130 kgs of calves her age of 5½ months old. Garima was not allowed to mix with her kind because calves are playful and bite each other. The ICAR is proud to have taken the lead in cloning buffalo for faster multiplication of highly productive animals.

The sad thing is that in India, such research is looked upon with great respect and admiration, with little realisation that new animals generate new diseases that humans will be ill-equipped to treat. There is even nobility associated with such development research, because the ends that are sought are ostensibly for the cause of human beings. As has become a habit with us, we seek to emulate everything of the West without screening it through our own standards of good and bad. Not to be left behind in the race for trying our hand at altering nature’s course, Indian scientists vie with each other to produce cows with better milk yields. Embryo Transfer Technology (ETT) and Super-ovulation are tried out in addition to artificial insemination (AI). (Whereas ETT spreads superior female genetics across a herd, AI spreads male genetics.) Results achieved in the yield-increasing race are published with pride and reported to be our deliverers from starvation or, in general, poverty. Ironically, organisations such as Pinjrapoles (in many cases unfortunately run as dairies) and those using the name of Mahatma Gandhi like the Sabarmati Ashram Goshala (Ahmedabad) are the nerve centres for such research, development and training activities. The National Dairy Development Board (Anand) with the assistance of the National Institute of Immunology (New Delhi), the National Dairy Research Institute (Karnal), the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (Izatnagar), and the Military Dairy Farms (even though these dairies have been closed in some cities) propagate ETT on a countrywide basis. In 1977 Raymond Ltd was the first to introduce ETT at its sheep breeding farm at Dhule in Maharashtra, followed by development and propagation of ETT for cattle by establishing the Raymond Embryo Research Centre for Cattle at Gopalnagar near Bilaspur in Chattisgarh in 1983.

In 2010 Himachal Pradesh began a project worth Rs 3 crore to propagate ETT at the state government cattle breeding farm at Bagthan in Sirmaur. A ETT lab has also been set up at Palampur. This is to enhance the reproductive rate of milching cattle and produce genetically superior animals. They plan to introduce “semen sexing” – used in Punjab and Gujarat – for selecting female calves. As many as 50-100 calves can be produced by ETT from a single outstanding cow/buffalo as against 5-10 calves in the animal’s entire lifespan by normal breeding. The ETT includes in-vivo and in-vitro production of embryos from genetically superior animals and their transfer into low producing recipients, i.e. surrogate mothers. The programme is giving impetus to the ongoing NABARD’s Doodh Ganga Yojna which is a women-centric self-help scheme.

In March 2012, a female calf, named Holi was born at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) at Karnal, Haryana, using Ovum-Pick-Up (OPU) and In vitro Fertilisation (IVF) technologies. They are processes by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body, i.e. in vitro. In OPU, oocytes are collected from the ovaries of a live cow using an ultrasound-guided needle. Fertilised and incubated for a week, the embryo called blastocyst, is then transferred to a surrogate mother.

One or two months later, the National Research Centre on Mithun (NRCM) at Jharnapani, Nagaland, under an ICAR project, successfully carried out ETT resulting in the birth of a mithun calf. Mithun is the domesticated gaur. (Incidentally, NRCM has undertaken a “Study of growth performance and leather quality in mithun (Bos frontalis) and its comparison with local cattle (Bos indicus) fed on tree leaves based ration”.)

In June 2016 there was a news item that stated that the group of scientists from the NDRI were still working hard on the sex-semen technology involving cleaning all ‘Y’ chromosomes from bull sperm and injecting it into a cow so as to produce female-only calves. India wanted its own technology because obtaining such sex-semen (flow cytometry) from US would cost over Rs 2,000/- per dose.

Embryo Transfer Technology (ETT) explained

Embryo transfer is the removal of an embryo from the oviduct or uterus of one female (donor) and placement of the same in the oviduct or uterus of another female whose reproductive cycle is at the same stage as that of the donor female.

Removal of embryos from high productive females in order to produce more heifer and/or bull calves per female per year is the key to faster production and genetic evaluation. The embryo transfer may be further increased by estrous synchronisation, including super ovulation (producing more ovulation than normal) from genetic mother and better recovery.

Why such cruel and unjustified exploitation?
  • To produce more offspring in shorter periods
  • To rapidly multiply desired genotypes
  • To speed up selection intensity
  • To transfer and introduce superior germplasm rapidly
  • To shorten intervals between generations
  • To produce twins and triplets
  • To produce offspring of a desired sex
  • To control diseases better
  • To facilitate export and import of superior germplasms
  • To create copies of profitable animals

  • Bizarre to the Extreme

    Chinese scientists have produced genetically modified cows whose milk is 80% the same as human breast milk. It was done by introducing human genetic coding into the DNA of Holstein dairy cow embryos, then transferring the embryos into cow surrogates. By 2011, 300 cloned cattle were at the experimental farm in Beijing which was started in 2003. An affordable form of the milk was expected to be marketed by 2014 after completion of clinical trials for safety on humans.

    Furthermore in April 2012, the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University’s scientists claimed to have bred the world’s first genetically modified calf named Lakes that would produce low-lactose milk in two years. (It is estimated that nearly 60% of Chinese are lactose-intolerant.)

    This information was followed by a study published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” that stated the University Waikato in New Zealand had engineered a genetically modified cow to produce milk that was less likely to cause allergic reactions. The modified cow lacked beta-lactoglobulin – a major whey protein of cow and sheep’s milk. The instructions for making the beta-lactoglobulin protein are contained in genes in the cow’s DNA, so the scientists added extra genetic material to disrupt the manufacturing process using a technique called RNA interference. The resultant calf was born without a tail but the researchers concluded that the technique was an “efficient tool” for modifying livestock.

    In some foreign diaries cows are fitted with a gastric fistula – a hole covered with a plastic stopper is made on the side of the cow’s stomach in order to be able to easily extract a sample of the food it is in the process of digesting for analysis. This enables investigating and ascertaining different digestive processes based on which the cows are fed. The aim is for maximum milk and meat production at lowest costs possible.

    Vegans should beware about dressing up in dairy! In 2011 a microbiologist and fashion designer of Hannover, Germany discovered a new process to convert milk casein into yarn. Around 6 litres of milk produces enough Qmilch (the brand name for the fabric) for a dress.

    Indian Bulls and Buffaloes

    Gujarat’s Gir and Kankrej species of cattle which have a high milk yield are in demand in Brazil. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 requires prior permission for export of Indian genetic material which is usually complied with because “every 10 to 15 years the Brazilian cattle need infusion of fresh blood to retain vigour”. However, in 2011 the Andhra Pradesh Biodiversity Board launched an investigation into a case where a cattle breeder sold without permission an Ongole bull to a middleman for Brazil. These bulls are said to be resistant to mad cow diseases. In fact, healthy bulls sell for crores in Brazil.

    The Department of Animal Husbandry, Haryana, organise shows for Murrah buffaloes in order to promote them. Males in such shows are judged on their masculinity like alertness, stoutness of neck and testicle size – their semen is in demand for artificial insemination and animals earn over Rs 5 lakhs per year for their owners. Young adult bulls are kept at a semen production centres for months at a stretch and thousands of doses of their semen are sold mainly to farmers from other states for up to Rs 300 each – the cost of a bull’s semen is based on its genetic background.

    In 2017 there was an article about a 9 year old “super” buffalo from Kurukshetra (Haryana) that was worth Rs 9 crore because he annually earned 50 lakh by providing semen for artificial insemination.

    Females are crowned beauty queens at these “Murrah on Ramp” shows, being judged for their shiny black (oiled and shampooed) skin and udder placement. Animals are pulled and tugged at and forced to walk up and down a ramp (slope 80x8 feet) one after another. The highest recorded milk yield by a Murrah is 31 litres, although on an average the buffalo gives 8-12 litres (maximum 15 litres) milk daily. In 2013 a female Murrah was sold by a Haryana farmer for Rs 25 lakhs to a farmer from Hyderabad and he held a grand farewell celebration inviting 2,000 guests from across the state.

    There is a growing trend to sell not only Murrah buffaloes but also Kapil, Ongle, Achep and other breeds online via e-classified advertisements posted on retail websites. And since they are traded for milk, not farming, the quality and quality of milk expected determines price.

    In India there are about 280 million cows that produce milk, dung – and calves of course! A cow’s annual fodder requirement costs around Rs 10,000/- plus other expenses such as medicines makes its upkeep expensive. A 2013 NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) paper which looks at cow and buffalo ownership in rural north India states that the average return is -64% after labour is factored in so they are probably bought as liquid assets.


    Gimmicks galore… one being at a workshop for media professionals organised by the HEAL Foundation at New Delhi in July 2012 when it was stated that mothers were no longer confident about the quality of milk being given to their children. So, the solution arrived at was to preserve milk’s nutritional value it should be marketed in tetra-paks instead of plastic pouches! (Tetra-paks are made of paperboard coated mostly with plastic/polyethylene, if not, also aluminium – a metal that has a long history of being considered toxic.)

    We must not forget that commercial gain is the bottom line for all dairies. What would they not do to increase milk production? Dudh kundlis said to be based on genes have been introduced by the Anand Agriculture University to help farmers know the milk-yield of the calves when born. 3,000 cows which heard bhajans at dawn just before being milked at the Bhagyalakshmi Dairy Farm run by Parag Milk Foods (Gowardhan brand) at Manchar registered a 2.5 to 3.5% increase in milk production. Parag Milk Foods have applied for organic milk certification from abroad as the company produces organic milk free of synthetic chemicals, hormones and antibiotics. Moreover, it is proud of its unique rotary parlour which automatically milks 50 cows in 7 minutes and plays music round the clock to enhance production and claims that’s the reason their cows are happy.

    The Hatsun Agro Product group also has a state-of-art dairy unit at Palacode in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu and under its “White Gold” project farmers are given guidance in setting up mini-dairies (target 40,000 units) of up to 30 animals yielding 300 litres of milk which is bought and marketed by them.

    Chitale Dairy (Maharashtra) utilises radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to control and monitor feeding, etc. all in order to help improve milk yield. Up to 40 persons were required to take care of about 10,000 cattle, but the use of technology has reduced the number to 5 persons. Selective mating of cows is carried out at Chitale Dairy using a genetic mating system, whereas Amul uses a fertility improvement programme. The aim is to increase yield, balance costs and quality – modernisation is actually exploitation of milch animals.

    In 2011 the Maharashtra Animal Identification and Recording Authority was set up to implant microchips (smart tags) on the ears of cattle, register them and maintain online records. The tags will contain unique identification numbers and when connected to a sensor will provide details on the dietary needs and health of the animal, daily milk yield reports will also be available so that animals that were economically viable would be retained by farmers.

    The exploitation is probably worse abroad. For example, a robotic rotary to milk cows has been invented in Australia. It will enable milking to be performed as a background activity without the presence of a human, thus addressing two key challenges facing the industry – the availability of labour and the lifestyle associated with dairying.

    A Dutch company has also come out with a robotic milking machine called A4 which completely does away with a human being during the milking process by luring the cow with special feed into the milking box and while it is eating, it is milked.

    A number of boutique dairies have sprung up across India. They supply “organic, unadulterated and farm-fresh” milk which they claim is possible because they keep their cows happy by not tying them up, giving them comforts and playing music to them before and during milking. Although the milk is sold at about double the cost of other milk till the beginning of 2014 none of the organic dairy entrepreneurs had broken even.

    Following a World Health organization report warning later in the year the Drug Controller General of India and the Ministry of Agriculture directed all state governments to stop the use of antibiotics and hormones in cattle, poultry and other animal feed. They also called for strict implementation of the 2012 law which mandated a gap (7 days for milch cattle) between the time an animal is given a drug and extraction of a food product from the animal. If it is implemented production cost will go up… so it is very likely that milk will continue to have serious consequences on humans because of residue of antibiotics and hormones given to cows and buffaloes.

    Stolen Milk

    The ultimate cruelty in the dairy industry now set to be perpetrated in a big way in India too, is to feed calves with milk replacer and take away the milk from cows and she-buffaloes for human consumption. Common ingredients in commercial milk replacers include a combination of ingredients such as whey, protein concentrate (from whey, soy, wheat, potato, whereas the most recent abroad consists of red blood cell, plasma and fish proteins), animal and vegetable fat, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Ingredients such as skim milk, butter milk and whole milk are not usually included in the formulation due to their cost and if they are used they are less than 1%. A programme launched under the Maharashtra State Animal Husbandry and Dairy Commission Committee in October 2005 by the Kolhapur Zilla Sahakari Dudh Utpadak Sangh Ltd (known for its Gokul brand milk) for enhancing milk productivity promotes its patented milk replacer and calf starter for calves thereby reducing their rearing expenditure by a third. The milk replacer that contains protein 25% & fat 7% reduces the first three months feeding expenses of the calf. The calf starter contains protein 23% & fat 4% and stimulates the ruminal activity in calves. (Mothers’ milk not allowed to be drunk by calf is sold to humans.)

    In short, it is downright unethical to steal the milk meant for the calves, unnatural to feed animal products to them and increase their weight at the rate of up to 700 grams per day.

    Calf Care?

    In 2012 the Dairy Development Board of Punjab began aggressively promoting a milk powder substitute obtained from Holland for “better growth of calves”. They recommend that calves should be switched over to this formula milk substitute after 5 days of consuming their mother’s milk.

    Furthermore, Punjab’s dairy farmers want to rent out sheds where calves can be taken care of because they admit that their dairies are congested and calves are neglected. A project to implement this idea was submitted by the Ludhiana Dairy Association to the Dairy Development Board.

    It is an economic strategy focusing on female calves: a cow costs Rs 60,000 whereas it costs about Rs 75,000 to rear a calf, but if the milk substitute is given it will cost less to rear the calf; and the milk that the calf does not consume can be sold to humans.

    Sad, there’s no mention of unwanted male calves.

    Sadder still, is this true story: a she buffalo, separated from her calf, became hysterical and throughout the night continuously banged her head against the tree truck to which she was tied with a short chain. When released the next morning, she ran towards her calf, slipped and died. The owner mourned the loss of a “cash buffalo” – not the loss of a life – and even called the animal mad.

    Unproductive Cows Sold for Slaughter

    In 2009 Beauty Without Cruelty visited around 30 big and small dairies in Pune district. Investigations revealed that although milch cattle in rural dairies do get to graze a little, the animals of city dairies spend their lives on cold concrete floors. All the cows and buffaloes battle diarrhoea, skin and saliva problems and many die due to brain fever. Artificial insemination ensures that these animals are kept repeatedly pregnant with Oxytocin injections increasing milk production by inducing contractions. Hormones are overlooked despite the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, penalising those practising phooka or doom dev (introduction of air or any other substance into the female organ) to improve lactation.

    When asked what these dairies did with “unproductive” cows, each and every owner said they sold them to middlemen, or directly to the butcher. This was reflected in news reports soon after the 2010 Union Budget. The dairy industry requested the Union Agriculture Minister to eliminate the 30% subsidy given the meat industry on cow and buffalo meat exports which, along with rising fodder prices, prompts farmers to send their cattle to slaughterhouses. With an average milk yield of 917 kg per annum, India’s milk yield had slipped ranking it 35th among 44 select countries.

    Despite the above facts, the Pune district’s milk scheme called the Kamdhenu Dattak Yojana (KDY) has been declared successful and is in 2010 expanding across Maharashtra with the state government fund of Rs 1.52 lakhs allotted for every village adopted under KDY. It focuses on increasing milk production by 200 litres per day per village, and “educates farmers about scientific methods of cattle farming” providing fodder, medicines, mineral mixture and vitamins and giving special attention for deworming.

    Artificial insemination centres are coming up very fast in Maharashtra. In 2011 the state had a target of an additional 4,251 centres and had received Rs 35 crore for implementation of special initiatives of increasing the population of crossbreed cattle and improved buffalo breed through artificial insemination. The initiative was being implemented under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) who expected the milk production to go up by at least 25 lakh tonnes.

    Then in 2013, the Maharashtra Department of Animal Husbandry embarked on another project involving selective breeding of cows and buffaloes with the aim of strengthening the indigenous breed of cattle and producing a new generation of animals with better resilience and increased milk producing capacity in the next 5-6 years. Nothing new: imported semen would be used for cross-bred cows, whereas specially selected semen from robust bulls of the state would be used to impregnating indigenous breeds. The only difference being that the government in its own interest would buy the male calves thus born for Rs 25,000/- to raise them at government bull farms that generate high quality semen.

    Three years earlier in 2010, on the recommendation of the Punjab State Farmers Commission a project for “Improving milk productivity of milch animals, especially buffaloes, by providing Artificial Insemination service at the doorstep of the farmers through Integrated Buffalo Development Centres” had been launched with funds from the RKVY, implemented by Milkfed Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd and with the technical support provided by the Animal Husbandry Department.

    India’s dairy industry exceedingly feels its future lies with bull semen. So in 2015, part of the National Dairy Plan included importing Holstein Friesian bulls for breeding and supporting veterinary workers to go round with canisters containing tubes of frozen bull semen and artificially inseminate as many as 30 animals a day in UP.

    By the end of 2015, the National Dairy Plan Phase I with the objective of increasing milk production was in its fourth year and would end in 2019, but was gearing up to implement Phase II to focus on strengthening the milk processing capacity of co-operatives requiring around Rs 7,000 to 8,000 crore.

    Despite India being the world’s 9th largest dairy product market, in 2016 because of a ban or restrictions on cow slaughter, global dairy players were not willing to enter India although the Government of India had allowed 100% FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in animal husbandry. (This includes pisciculture, aquaculture, apiculture and even breeding dogs.) This further proves that killing is very much a part of the dairy industry worldwide – unwanted male calves and uneconomical non-lactating cows are disposed off.

    Oxytocin Hormone

    Obtained from oxen or prepared synthetically, 1953 onwards, oxytocin began to be widely administered in obstetric practice for induction of labour, the control of bleeding following delivery, and the stimulation of milk letdown reflex.

    Along the way people got the bright idea of indiscriminately using oxytocin (OT) injections on milch animals – not only during delivery of a calf, but daily. Five minutes before milking 5 ml of OT is injected twice a day so that milk flows fast out of the udder.

    The side effects on the poor animals being given this injection day in and day out are tremendous. The reproductive systems of the cows and she-buffaloes get irreversibly damaged and the animals are abandoned in a couple of years.

    Ever since BWC got to know that cows and she-buffaloes were being regularly subjected to painful contractions of their uteruses every day, we have been speaking against its use, and wrote to the government too.

    In June 2013 the Mid Day publication came out with their remarkable evidence-clinching investigation carried out over a period of two months, detailing how in Mumbai’s tabelas, female buffaloes were illegally being administered oxytocin injections in their necks twice a day. Oxytocin is the generic name, whereas Pitocin and Syntocinon are brand names of the hormone drug that causes the uterus to contract.


    The ban on the sale of this drug without a prescription is unfortunately not implemented. It is sold in plastic bottles without labels and called doodh ka dawa. A bottle of 20 doses of 5 ml each is as cheap as Rs 30/-.


    Samples of milk collected from dairies that used the doodh ka dawa injections, tested positive by showing up in the milk. Meanwhile, many doctors of Mumbai say there is an increase in hormone imbalance complaints among children and that they have been treating girls for premature puberty and boys with breast enlargement problems. This, no doubt, is due to them consuming hormone-laden milk.

    A week later, when the Food and Drugs Administration team raided the tabelas where Mid-Day had exposed the use of Oxytocin, they found no evidence of it. The FDA say they’ve never found Oxytocin in milk but if found guilty, the owners will be punished under the Food Safety and Standards Act; and that they will search for the supplier as part of their investigation into the matter!

    The President of the Indian Medical Association’s Pune Chapter has stated that “Oxytocin hormone used for the purpose of increasing milk yield in cattle can have side-effects on cattle as well as on humans. It can cause ovarian diseases in women and could damage seminal vesicles in men, which may lead to impotency”.

    In 2014 with the aim of curbing misuse of oxytocin to boost milk production and plump up the size of vegetables and fruits, the Ministry of Health prohibited its retail sale. Formulations meant for veterinary use can be sold to veterinary hospitals only. Both the Food & Drug Adulteration and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Acts forbid its rampant use. Although the government has labelled it as a schedule H-drug requiring a prescription, it is some how sold to and used by dairies to increase the flow of milk. They say it does not actually increase the milk output, but merely makes it flow out faster.


    Nearly 70 companies produce oxytocin, of which only a fraction (likely to be 5%) is sold legally. The Food & Drug Administration say the origin of oxytocin trafficking is Bihar. In October 2010 there were huge seizures of oxytocin consisting of 72,000 ampoules in Pune, 250 bottles in Daund, and 8,400 ampoules in Wagholi. The latest raids conducted April 2015 by the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation of the Health Ministry resulted in large quantities of oxytocin injections being seized in Delhi. Injecting cows and she-buffaloes with oxytocin is unfortunately the norm in dairies.

    Good reasons to immediately give up milk and milk products. May be women need to stop and think about how they would feel if twice a day their bodies were injected to go into labour-mode and have contractions, and secrete milk. Unless and until we imagine ourselves in the position of the animal victim, we will not be able to appreciate what it feels like to have one’s body be considered a commodity for the beneficial use of another species.

    Incidentally, the National Guidelines on Human Milk Banking (under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) do not state that animal milk is the second best option when a newborn is unable to receive his or her mother’s milk, but donated human milk is the second best option.

    Male Infanticide

    Calves when born are separated from their mothers because it is unprofitable to let them feed on their mothers’ milk – they may be allowed to suckle for only a short duration, primarily to stimulate milk secretion from the cow, otherwise they may be fed a little colostrums in a bucket. As soon as the flow of milk starts, the calf is taken away and tied separately.


    Milk continues to be produced in this way as the consumers (not the calves) continue to enjoy milk and milk products. On an average 10 litres of milk is taken away from a cow or buffalo daily. So for obvious reasons female calves are raised (on minimum mother’s milk) to repeat the process lasting for as long as they produce milk which is a maximum of 12 to 14 years.


    Economically unviable, unwanted male calves are not at all cared for and generally 80% die due to deliberate malnutrition and hunger, whereas some are immediately got rid of by being abandoned but they too die of starvation or are illegally slaughtered, usually for their leather. Believe it or not, some butchers unasked for the favour, steal the newly born male calves at night.

    Keeping male calves adds to the cost of dairy operations – with nil monetary returns. In 2005 animal activists saw unwanted male calves stuffed in gunny bags being thrown out of a moving train at Mahim Creek, Mumbai. The carcasses had been skinned for leather.

    Leopards frequently straying and attacking humans in the woods near the Aarey Milk Colony (Mumbai) gives rise to the suspicion that male calves are surreptitiously abandoned there.


    These male calves can not when they are older plough land or pull carts like tough desi bulls. They are foreign, such as the Jersey and Holstein-Friesian breeds, and only suitable for producing large quantities of milk.


    Religious reverence for calves in India does not allow males to be fattened for veal – calf meat is illegal any way. Abroad, unwanted and discarded male calves are called “bobby calves” and are raised and killed for veal. Bred annually so their mothers generate milk, they are destined for sale or slaughter when less than 30 days old and under 80 kgs in weight.


    Milk production-cum-consumption and male infanticide are inseparable.

    Fate of our Holy Cows

    In April 2010 the Bhumata Kisan Manch undertook a public protest together with their cows at the office of the District Collector of Satara because several jobless youth in the district had taken Bank loans to start a dairy business but it was not turning out profitable as production costs far outweighed the rate at which they could sell the milk.

    Again in 2011 November, Maharashtra’s farmers, especially the new generation, were disenchanted as the business was becoming less lucrative despite retail prices of milk having been hiked thrice in less than a year. The average profit per day per hybrid cow was Rs 30.

    Yet again it was reiterated in 2012 by other farmers of Maharashtra who had taken up dairy as a supplementary business: they were not keen on investing further because they did not find the business economically viable.

    In fact, once the cow stops giving enough milk she is also discarded. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) advises to “cull the old animals after 6-7 lactations”. Dairy owners openly admit that they can not feed animals that give no milk – meaning no financial returns – because they are in the business of making money. Do you know that cows instinctively realise that they are going to be sold off? Owners (who claim to worship the cow) are well aware of this and feel guilty to sell their old cows directly to butchers, but it’s strange and sad that they do not mind selling them to middlemen. They do not ask what will happen to the cows because they want to ignore the fact that their animals will go to the abattoir. Disgustingly, the middleman sells the cow to the butcher after totalling the value of all her body parts, e.g. so much for its flesh and organs (meat, fat), so much for its skin (leather), so much for its bones, horns and hooves (gelatine), so much for its blood (medicines) and so on.

    This is the typical end for our cows – worshiped, milked dry and then throat slit. The Government of India claims to protect cow and its prodigy but it is just not happening in practice. Laws protecting cattle are gender, commerce, religion, and politically oriented making them absolutely different for cows, bulls, male calves and female calves.

    And it looks like getting much worse for the milch cattle because dairies such as Kwality, Prabhat, Parag, and Creamline (Jersey brand) are looking for substantial private equity funding for expansion, and big funds showing interest. In fact, Motilal Oswal Private Equity raised Rs 60 crores for Parag Milk Foods in 2008.


    All mammals at the time of parturition secrete colostrums from their nipples. It is a thin yellowish milky fluid rich in antibodies and consists largely of serum and white blood cells. It precedes the production of true milk and is just sufficient for and meant exclusively for the just delivered baby. High in energy, protein, vitamins (especially A D E and B12), minerals and most importantly containing high levels of imunoglobulins, by suckling the colostrums, passive immunity is transferred from the mother to the newborn thus enabling it to fight off infections during its life time.

    Called bovine colostrums, beestings or foremilk, this super-nutritious liquid is secreted for the first day or two by the cow or buffalo after she has calved. Although it is a vital food for newborn calves, it is taken away by humans and usually consumed as a steamed pudding. Commonly known as khees in India, colostrums is also called gau-piyush and cheek in Hindi, junnu in Telegu, seem paal in Tamil, geena in Konkani, kharwas in Marathi, bari in Gujarati, and palethi in Punjabi.

    In order to eat the colostrums’ pudding themselves, some humans say it is inauspicious to feed the calf the first milk (they even consume colostrums of goats). Stealing and eating colostrums has been an age-old practice in India, but since the mid-2000s “first-milk” began figuring prominently in health supplements of the West. New Zealand is the world’s largest manufacturer of supplements containing colostrums – such products, often taken by athletes, are not banned by the International Olympic Committee because their claims to burn fat, build lean muscle, and increase stamina and endurance, lack scientific research to back them up. Others take it to enhance immunity and prevent leaky gut and diarrhoea, but doctors caution benefits because they have seen particularly children who have consumed it landing up with respiratory infections.

    Beauty Without Cruelty classifies colostrums as non-vegetarian: a product derived upon depravation and cruelty to calves, it positively needs to be shunned – whether as khees or processed into capsules/powder and marketed as a supplement. Bovine colostrums are meant to build immunity in calves, not humans.

    “Stray Cattle”

    Cattle seen roaming in cities are owned and are not “stray” although they do wander aimlessly on the roads (cows are fed by Hindus) and eat from open garbage bins, resulting in disrupting the smooth flow of traffic. Although periodically rounded up by the municipal and cantonment authorities, the basic reason for their being on city roads is strong resistance (often with political backing) from dairy owners to re-locate to the outskirts of their cities. If they did re-locate, there would be no chance of the cattle consuming plastic. Cling film used for keeping food fresh and thin plastic found in mithai boxes and as packing for other food should be burnt, never thrown away in the garbage, to prevent it being eaten by stray animals, often resulting in their death. More and more cattle need to be surgically operated upon for removal of such indigestible plastic from their intestines. It is therefore advisable not to throw away such plastic bags, etc. in the dustbin (or even put down on plastic some food for them to eat) as they invariably land up on garbage heaps frequented by cattle. Autopsies on cattle have revealed as much as 55 kilograms of plastic in their stomachs.

    Cows and calves (especially female ones) are generally considered sacred in thought, but not always in deed by Hindus. Why else would male dairy calves be abandoned by virtue of being uneconomic? Many who own milch cows in cities can’t protect them as they do not have the means or place, so they are let loose to forage on the streets day and night, grazing on grassy medians and finding some thing to eat in the garbage. “Lifting” them off the streets or farms at night was by 2013 fast becoming a common criminal activity, more so in places like Meerut and Muzaffanagar where farmers remain awake to guard their cattle from theft. The animals are transported to illegal slaughterhouses, or more likely, transported via Bihar into West Bengal up to the Indo-Bangladesh border, and smuggled out live to be killed for meat and leather. The scrawny cows are thus systematically loosing their sacred status.

    Unfortunate expansion followed closure when in 2002 the Delhi High Court directed the state government, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) to shift all illegal dairies out side the city because of the hazard posed by stray cattle on roads. By April 2013, 1432 dairies had moved (3 were covered by stay orders) to the unified MCD’s 180-acre Ghogha Dairy Project located in Narela where 1920 demarcated plots had been allotted to them. (Incidentally, in 2006 the Municipal Commissioner accepted that “more than 50% plots have been fraudulently allotted to those who had nothing to do with the dairy business”.)

    Milk of Human Unkindness and Ingredients used for Milk Adulteration

    In addition to traces of harmful hormones, antibiotics and other medications being present in milk (those that were administered continuously to the cow/buffalo) we must not forget that milk can be cleverly adulterated (from 5% to 25% levels mainly found in thermal sealed pouches) with not only water as is commonly imagined, but with items such as caustic soda, soda bicarbonate, maltodextrin, sorbitol, sweetening agents, hydrogen peroxide, formalin, starch, urea, ammonium sulphate, pulverized soap, detergent, vegetable fat, benzoic and salicylic acid, borax and boric acid, melamine, etc. – including skimmed milk powder and glucose! Preservatives that extend the shelf-life of milk are also added, more so in North India.

    People are increasingly wondering and complaining on social network sites as to why when lime/nimbu is added to boiling milk with the intention of making it curdle, it does not turn into cottage cheese/paneer. It surprises them that this occurs with well known branded packets of milk and that it indicates that most of the milk sold is indeed adulterated.

    In 2012 tests by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) showed widespread milk adulteration in India. Nearly 70% of the 1791 samples taken from urban and rural areas across the country were contaminated or otherwise diluted. (Dilution with uncontaminated water makes milk substandard, but not unsafe. There exists a superstition among milkmen is that if pure milk is sold, their cows will run dry.) Tests revealed adulteration was with contaminated water, skimmed milk powder, glucose, hydrogen peroxide, urea and detergent, thus posing health risks. The report had also found reconstituted milk adulterated – reconstituted milk is obtained upon adding water to whole milk powder, or is prepared using an emulsifying apparatus with skimmed milk powder, butter-fat and water.

    The FSSAI report of 2013 was as bad because 68.4% of milk samples collected from rural and urban areas of all states failed food safety and standards and 88% taken from Uttar Pradesh were adulterated.

    The Delhi University’s Journal of Undergraduate Research and Innovation February 2015 issue published that tests conducted on 30 milk samples (open and branded) from Delhi/NCR showed adulteration and did not conform to standards set by the FSSAI. They all tested positive for maltose and cane sugar; and they contained neutralisers/stabilisers which are added to increase shelf life.

    In 2008 milk originating from China, tested positive for melamine, a chemical used in fertilizer and plastic, causing at least six baby deaths among the three lakh persons affected, and resulting in several jail sentences, including some life sentences. The lesson was not learnt because in 2011, a company had to destroy milk tainted with afla-toxin, a carcinogenic mould found in corn grown in humid climates. And again in 2012, China’s top selling dairy had to recall six months’ worth of one brand of their infant formula after government tests found it was tainted with mercury, a heavy metal that can cause neural damage if ingested. Since China did not provide any data addressing safety concerns, the import ban on Chinese milk products imposed by the Government of India in 2008 has been extended every year and remains effective till June 2015.

    Few incidents of food-poisoning due to milk consumption come out into the open like the milk laced with pesticides and insecticides which caused the death of 5 tribal students of the State Welfare Department-run boarding school of Ranchi in November 2008 or when 61 children got ill after drinking insect-infested Government milk at Batakwada village near Vadodara. According to a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research 570 times the permitted limit of pesticides are found in the average milk available.

    Food poisoning from milk can also be as a result of the Brucella virus, which leads to arthritis, fever and infertility in humans. And, the commonly known Salmonella poisoning can be from milk too.

    In August 2016, the Supreme Court said adulteration of milk could adversely affect the growth of future generations. It pointed to UP, Bengal and Odisha which had already amended their state laws making the offence punishable by life terms. The bench referred to a 2011 FSSAI report which said that over 68% of milk sold in the market was found adulterated. All samples in Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman & Diu were adulterated. Expressing concern over the alarming level of milk adulteration in the country the SC favoured stringent punishment of life imprisonment for the offence which was up to 6 months in jail or a fine only.


    The National Sample Survey Office’s quinquennial 68th round household consumer expenditure survey carried out in India between July 2011 and July 2012 considered the quantities actually consumed of milk and meat (which included fish and egg). The data collected showed that vegetarian states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi consumed more milk, but less eggs, fish and meat.

    Practically all vegetarians in India, including those who call themselves “pure” vegetarians, include milk and dairy products in their diets. It is however clear that by choosing to get ones nutrients from plant sources, one is not a party to exploitation of milch cattle and can stay away from the disadvantages of milk – the basic health disadvantage of consumption being that like all animal derived products, dairy contains harmful saturated fat – as well.

    In fact, heart disease, obesity and even cancer can be caused by dairy products. They are high in calories and give rise to cholesterol.

    German researchers have found that the relaxing effect of a cup of ordinary black tea on the arteries is completely wiped out if milk (even a splash of it) is added. In other words, milk wrecks the health benefits of tea when added to the brew. Similarly, a study published in The European Heart Journal stated that researchers had 16 healthy adults drink cups of freshly brewed black tea, black tea mixed with a small amount of skim milk, or boiled water, and measured the effects on vascular function. Compared with water, black tea “significantly improved” arterial function the researchers found, “whereas addition of milk completely blunted the effects of tea”. In fact, green tea without milk originated in China as a medicinal drink and is considered as one of the world’s healthiest drinks. Adding lemon, not milk to it enhances its health benefits.

    It is therefore best to forget the famous commercial that says “doodh, doodh, doodh, doodh,… doodh hain wonderful, pi sakte hain roz glassful…”

    Even if we are unable to give up milk and milk products, simply being aware of nutritional and other facts mentioned above, acknowledging them and cutting down on consumption as much as possible, would be a good enough start.

    Vegan Tribes

    Researchers say hormones (not fat) found in dairy products consumed by teenagers are responsible for acne vulgaris or pimples. It has also been observed that particular communities like the Canadian Inuits who shifted to a westernised diet of sweet colas, beef, dairy produce and processed foods, began suffering especially from acne, and also auto-immune disturbances, high insulin levels and cardio-vascular disease.

    The consumption of milk and milk products is completely non-existent among the Korku tribes of Melghat, a remote region in Maharashtra. They believe that just as a mother’s milk is meant for her child, the same is true of animals.

    Similarly, tribals of Bagmara village (south of Agartala) in Tripura, hold on to their age-old custom that forbids consumption of cow milk, though nearly each household has at least one milch cow. They consider the cow as god so no milking. They also feel that depriving the calf of its mother’s milk is a sin, and that the gods will not exonerate the sinner.

    Donating Cows and Wanting Milk

    Some Hindus consider gifting or donating cows as a sacred deed and expect in return good health and wealth from the Lord. Those who do not know, need to be made aware that the poor who are given cows, more often than not, find it difficult to feed themselves, leave alone the gifted cows. And, that the unwanted cows – even those given to priests – eventually land up at the slaughter-house.

    The fact is that milch cattle are specially and specifically bred by the dairy industry for desired attributes. Therefore, apprehensions that if people stop consuming milk (or even meat) cows will either become extinct or there will be too many, are meaningless. But, if the demand for milk lessens, many milch cows will not be specially bred, fewer calves will suffer, and humans will not consume harmful milk. There will be no need to enhance milk production and just enough will be produced for calves whose sole right it is to consume it.

    Let it be known to those who wish to consume milk that stringent welfare measures are never implemented, and even if they were, milk production would carry on being gross animal exploitation.

    Cows never secrete more milk than the quantities required to sustain their calves. If cows were to eat a normal diet of grass, they would produce no more than sufficient milk for their own calves. But cows in dairies are forced to give birth to a calf every year; and because their diets are doctored with hormones etc. they produce abnormally high levels of milk, even 10 times more. As such there would be no excess milk available for human consumption simply because dairy cows are all forced in different, cruel ways to produce abnormally high yields of milk for commercial gain – and such hormone- and antibiotic-laden milk is positively harmful.

    BWC puts forth such facts and leaves it to readers to decide for themselves, whether they want to consume milk and milk products, or not.

    Storm in a Teacup

    When Government of India declared that tea would be accorded national drink status on 17 April 2013, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation wanted milk, not tea, to be the national drink; also there was a demand from Punjab for lassi; and, South Indians wished it to be coffee instead. In retaliation, the North East Tea Association strongly objected saying that tea in India was not just a product or commodity, but a culture with 800 million kilograms of tea being consumed annually.

    Panchagavya and Cow Urine

    In 2012 the College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Pookot in Wayand distict, Kerala, launched two products: panchagavya (mixture of milk, ghee, curd, cow urine and cow dung) and cow urine (the first urine of the day) for the organic farming sector. They claim the urine improves plant resistance and the panchagavya helps growth of favourable soil bacteria which turns the soil fertile.

    The Maharashtra state government in 2015 launched Gokul Gram, a scheme to protect ageing and ailing cows by providing land and financial support to NGOs, so that sale and use of cow urine and cow dung can be promoted. This was soon after the newly formed government resent the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995, that seeks a ban on cow slaughter, to the Government at the Centre for obtaining the assent of the President of India. In this connection BWC also wrote the Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs urging quick and positive action and pointing out that the Bill should not have been sent for comments to the Ministry of Commerce since it did not concern them.

    Buffaloes Gifted to Vegetarian Wrestlers

    Upon their return from the London Olympics medal winning wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt were felicitated at Delhi by being given three buffaloes and ghee. The 100 kgs of almonds also given was a good idea, but certainly not giving live animals.

    Interestingly Kusti/Kusthi or the ancient Indian combative wrestling takes place in a clay or dirt pit. The soil is mixed with ghee, milk and mustard oil and is tended to before each practice. Wrestlers live and train together in akharas or gyms and follow strict rules on every thing from what they can eat to what they can do in their spare time. Their diet is vegetarian which goes to prove that non-vegetarian food is not at all necessary for wrestlers’ strength, size, etc. (No intoxicants and sex is allowed in order to conserve their energy.) The pehelwans of Kolkata’s surviving akharas such as the Ganga Seva Samiti attract admiration from the public for their dav-pench or moves in traditional wrestling performances (they perform puja to Hanuman idols prior to playing) on Sundays and holidays – they hold regular jobs. Here the pits are re-laid every 3-4 years with Ganga mitti, huldi, neem leaf paste, red soil, mustard oil, cow’s milk, curds and desi ghee.

    Page last updated on 30/03/24