Historically animal rearing in Jammu and Kashmir is as ancient as we are man animal associations have continued since ages before the advent of technological revolution in the West which culminated in the development of motorized transport vehicles of various kinds, it was animals such as horses, donkeys, mules, camels, bulls and yaks etc, who provided mobility to man. In the hilly region of Jammu and Kashmir animals still, continue to be an important means of various transports in the many a treacherous terrains.
Besides transportation the clothing, food shelter and even for tolls. The livestock continues to be useful to the people in the region even now. This animal are still the cheapest source of protein and provide many by-products like leather, wool, manure etc.
There are no authentic records available which could throw light on the evolution of various breeds of domesticated animals in Jammu and Kashmir. However, some earlier historical account and the visual characteristic of the present generation of the regions indigenous livestock suggest that the early settlers of Kashmir Valley had domesticated wild cattle which possessed a small body frame with an overwhelmingly black body coat, dwarf size and small horns and were primarily used for draught purpose. The Aryans are presumed to have brought with them the animals with white body coat. The other immigrants also brought several breeds of livestock which resulted in the development of a non-descript type of cattle. Pathans are considered to have introduced Sindhi Cattle.
The ponies and donkeys, Yaks, (in Ladakh) were put to load carrying and as a means of transport. Similarly, bulls were put to use in agriculture fields and for pulling the carts. The livestock products like wool skins, hides, milk and manure were found to be useful and hence added to the value of livestock.
History of organised dairy farming in Kashmir is relatively young. In the pre-partition era, a cattle farm was established at Shalteng near Srinagar which maintained Sindhi and some local cows and bulls. It was set up following the recommendation made by the Royal Commission for Agriculture (1927) appointed under the Chairmanship of Lords Linlithgow, who later became the viceroy. The Maharaja of Kashmir also established a Civil Veterinary Department in 1927 with two livestock inspectors one posted in Kashmir and the other in Jammu. The Veterinary Department primarily established to provide Veterinary care for Mules and Horses of the Maharaja Cavalry was also charged with the responsibility of enforcing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A private farm with some imported cows and bulls of Ayrshire breed was established at Cheshmashahi for Maharaja’s personal use. The Male calves born at the farm were auctioned and city gawalas (milkmen) purchased them for breeding purposes. Lady Linda popularly called Meera Behan, a close associate of Gandhiji established a dairy farm at Gowbal, a place near Kangan, with the objective of educating the people about various managemental aspects of dairy farming.
During 1920-1930 there were a total of 12 dispensaries in J&K of which six were named as ‘road dispensaries” and were located in Jhelum valley road and Banihal Cart road for the treatment of transport animals and for detection of glanders as a precautionary measure to prevent entry of the disease from Punjab. During this period Mr. Taylor, Principal Lahore Veterinary College was invited to advice the then State Government in the matter of establishing the Veterinary Department on a permanent basis to cater to needs of the farmers whose livestock needed protection and treatment against a number of diseases. Under his guidance the Veterinary Department was established and given under the control of a Veterinarian designated as Superintendent. The first officer was from Lahore and was appointed as superintendent after his retirement from services at Lahore. The dispensaries increased in number every year and a few bulls (Sindhi), horses and donkeys stallion were stationed at some important towns for improvement of local breed of these species. All these institution were manned by qualified personnel from outside J&K numbering about a dozen.
During the second decade of the 20th century, some local youth were deputed to Lahore Veterinary College to qualify as trained Vets. These people on their return were absorbed in the Department. Subsequently, more candidates were deputed for training to different colleges, most of them going to Lahore, Bombay and Madras Veterinary College. Simultaneously the activities in different spheres of animal health breeding and veterinary education were expanded. A foreign qualified Veterinarian (MRCVS) took over the control of the Department during 1933-34 as Superintendent Veterinary Department which was brought subordinate to the then state Development Minister directly.
During thirties of the last century the Department expanded progressively and the need to protect the livestock wealth of the state increased substantially as the scourge of contagious disease became a cause for concern. J&K secured membership in the then Imperial Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as a result of which two Clinical Laboratories came into existence. Vaccines for control of various disease started pouring for immunisation of the livestock against most of the contagious disease inducing Rinderpest, Hemorrhagic Septicemia, Anthrax, Black Quarter and Rabies. In 1940 a centre for the manufacture of goat Tissue Vaccine ( Rinderpest Control Vaccine ) was also established beside a number of dispensaries were established in almost all major towns for rendering adequate treatment to livestock and controlling contagious disease.
Livestock breeding activities of the Department remained restricted to a few selected places only. Four to five Sindhi bulls, horses and donkey stallions were made available for breeding purposes at central locations in Jammu, Srinagar, Udhampore, Anantnag and Baramulla. During 1935-38 arrangements were made to established two small breeding farms, one each at Srinagar and Jammu, wherein Dhani and Shadni breeds of cattle were placed. The main purpose was improvement of cattle under the “Premium” bulls’ scheme among the progressive farmers in each village. These agents would maintain them on a maintenance charge paid by the Government and use them for breeding.
During the colonial rule the region of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed like the rest of India a regression in Animal Husbandry, Agriculture and allied sectors. Majority of the livestock were of non-descript and inferior quality. The production from livestock was significantly less. Livestock products like Milk, Eggs, Meat and By-Products were available only to very rich people. The infrastructure with the Department was quite archaic and in every sense the Animal Husbandry sector was the most neglected one. The manpower available had hardly any formal training in the Veterinary Science. The practice of quacks was rampant and so was mortality amongst the animal population. Disease like Anthrax, Black Quarter, Hemorrhagic septicemia and Rinderpest (Cattle Plague) used to take a heavy toll of Livestock. The paucity of animal produce like milk, egg and meat affected the general health of the people which result in their lower output and low disease resistance. Proteins and calorie malnutrition affected more than 75% people and average life-span was just in the range of forties.
- 1950: Civil Veterinary Department re-christened as Animal Husbandry Department
- 1951: 'Key Village Scheme' for cattle development introduced
- 1953: Stock Assistants Training School established.
- 1954: Advent of Artificial Breeding
- 1957: Artificial insemination replaces natural service 1959: Milk Scheme Started
- 1964: Hill Cattle Development Scheme launched in hilly areas and Jersey sires recruited for up-gradation of local cattle
- 1964: Publicity Wing of the Department established
- 1965: Livestock Research Center started for disease investigation and manufacture of vaccines at Gaokadal which became the harbinger for Institute of Animal Health and Biological Products
- 1965: Sheep Husbandry Department comes into being Livestock Research Center started for diseases Investigation and manufacture of vaccines
- 1967: Intensive Cattle Development Programme launched
- 1967: Poultry Project Hariparbath became operational followed by launching of Broiler Project.
- 1969: Duck Breeding Farm established at Umerhair
- 1970: Rinderpest Disease eliminated from valley
- 1971: Marketing Division for providing marketing facilities to poultry farmers established
- 1975: 'Feed & Fodder Development' wing established
- 1979: Institute of Animal Health and Biological Products established at Zakura
- 1980: Marked the advent of Frozen Semen Technology for Cattle
- 1980: A I facilities available in remotest areas
- 1980: Duck Breeding Farm established at Sumbal
- 1983: White Pekins and Khaki Campbell breeds of ducks introduced Kashmir
- 1983: Valley Milk Producers Co-operative Federation comes into being
- 1985: Yak Breeding Farm Budhkharboo established
- 1988: Zanskari horse breeding farm established at Chouchot, Leh (Ladakh)
- 1997: Breeding Farm for Double Humped Camel set up at Nobra
Post Independance era - huge strides towards self sufficiency
The Jammu and Kashmir was one of the least developed regions of the country in 1947. Its backwardness was reflected in mass poverty, deprivation, hunger, disease and ignorance. The annual per capita income in 1951 was Rs.208/- (at 1960-61 prices). The literacy was just 5%. The Agriculture economy was stagnant. Industrial development was almost negligible. Infrastructural bottlenecks were many which accentuated the poverty syndrome.
The programmes for reconstruction of economy were articulated by the emerging political leadership from 1944. The Naya Kashmir programme envisaged institutional and agrarian restructuring so that the productive force could be unleashed from the shackles of landlordism and decks cleared for economic growth and development.
In the post-independence period, strong emphasis was laid on the development of Animal Husbandry, Agriculture and allied sectors to give a fillip to the economy of the peasantry. The Civil Veterinary Department got transformed into Animal Husbandry Department to ensure overall improvement in the livestock sector.
Ever since independence, the Department of Animal Husbandry has been actively working towards improving the livestock wealth of J&K. With the implementation of the 1st Five Year Plan, the Department started cattle breeding farms, one at Cheshmashahi, Kashmir and second at Belicharana, Jammu with the aim of producing breeding bulls to be stationed at hospital and dispensaries for up-gradation of local cattle. The number of hospital and dispensaries was also increased to provide Veterinary aid to livestock on more convenient terms.
In 1954 “breeding by artificial means” was introduced for the first time in the region. Two Artificial Insemination Centers, one each at Srinagar and Jammu were established. Drs. Ghulam Hassan and Kulwant Singh manned the Srinagar and Jammu centres respectively. They were thus the pioneers of Artificial Breeding of Cattle in J&K. During the 1st Five Year Plan, a start in the Cattle development programme was made with the implementation of “Key Village” and “Feed Cattle development programme scheme”. This was based on the principle of improved breeding, balanced feeding, scientific management and prompt disease control. During 2nd Five Year Plan the key village scheme (KVS) got further expanded and natural service (mating) was replaced with artificial insemination (AI) using semen from Red Sindhi bulls.
Another Scheme known as Hill Cattle Development Scheme for hilly regions was started in 1964. It almost was a replica of key village Scheme. However, under the scheme Jersey rather than Red Sindhi Breed was used for up-gradation of local cattle which gave better results.
During the year 1967-68, the need for taking a large compact area under cattle development programme was felt and accordingly a start was given by setting up to two Intensive Cattle Development Project (ICDP) in the milk shed areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Each ICDP comprised of 4 Regional Cattle Development (RCD) blocks and each RCD block covered 25 Centres. Besides dealing with cattle Development programme the Scheme also provided for dairy extension and fodder development works. The first Jersey calf born through Artificial Insemination was axed to death at Budgam, Anantnag since ignorant farmers believed Jersey had blood from pigs.
The ICDP continued to be operational through the 4th Five year Plan and got strengthened and extended to more uncovered areas. During the 6th Five Year Plan two frozen semen Banks, one each at Jammu and Srinagar, were established with the assistance of Danish International Development Agency. Under this programme equipment required for production and processing of Frozen Semen Banks made it possible to extend A.I. facilities even to mountainous areas including those which remain cut off during winter.