Save Our Sahiwal (SOS) by Dr. M. Younas

                                     Author:   Dr Muhammad Younas

              Dept of Livestock Management, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad


The cattle breed of Sahiwal is a local, well adopted, hardy in nature, disease resistance and very precious breed of Pakistan. This is the best milch breed in the country. The breed is named after the Saho tribe lived in Sahiwal District, which is part of its home tract.

Physical Characteristics:

The breed is medium sized, has a fleshy body. Females have a reddish dun color, while males have a darker color around the orbit, neck and hindquarters. Males have stumpy horns, females are often dehorned. Ears are medium sized and drooping. Skin is loose and fine with a voluminous dewlap and sheath. The males possess a massive hump, but in the female it is nominal. The tail ends in a black switch. The udder is large and strong. Milk yield is 1500-2200 liters per lactation (305 d) with a fat content of 4.5 %. 

Sahiwal cattle have been rather still are in great demand in several Asian and African countries. Way back we exported Sahiwal animals to Africa, Australia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, etc. This breed has been used with local bloods in many parts of the world to develop new strain and breeds, now these countries have put those animals on sale and further intends to export those animals back to us with different names. On the other hand a criminal negligence has been shown in its own habitat, which resulted in a considerable reduction of this breed in the country.

Sahiwal being the animal of this land, is difficult to find here, isn’t it strange. Only at some public sector farms, one can find pure Sahiwal animals, or a small number of farmers is keeping a few animals. One can’t find a few animals to make a small herd of Sahiwal Dairy Farm, despite the present government incentives and initiatives. Due to the demand of more milk production and lack of proper breeding policy in the past, in field conditions the specimens of pure Sahiwal are becoming obsolete. The farmers have been attracted for cross breeding with the exotic blood. A crusade of blind crossing of Sahiwal with any exotic semen has created the current scenario. Any farmer crossing the borderline tends to bring semen of any breed in the country without any consultation with the Institutes, Universities or the Livestock Dept.

The population of Sahiwal cattle in Punjab province which is the home tract of this breed, was estimated as 1.17 million during 1996 census, later the number was estimated 0.35 million in 2000 and at present it’s population has faced a drastic decrease in the country, which was 0.14 million in Its number has been reduced to a dangerous level, where FAO has to show its concern and finding purebred animals in the country has become a great problem.

Due to a continuous neglect, its productive and reproductive performance has shown a decline over the past 40 years, according to the studies conducted at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad by Dr Muhammad Sajjad Khan and his colleagues. To mention a few, it’s age at first calving has prolonged to approximately 6 days per lactation, milk yield has shown a decline of 17 kg and overall productive life has shown a decline of 20 days, as reported by Dr M Sajjad Khan in a Sahiwal Workshop on June 16, 2005. While the performance in India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Australia has shown marvelous results rather they have used this breed as a base to develop their new milch and beef breeds.

Wouldn’t it be strange, rather shameful on our part, to hear that the farms of nucleus herd are in plenty in India and other countries, while its becoming difficult to find the pure specimens of this breed in Pakistan. What to speak of meeting export potential, fulfilling local demand has become difficult.

Establishment of the Research Center for Conservation of Sahiwal Cattle (RCCSC) at Sahiwal, which was later shifted to Jhang is a clear testimony that Government has realized to compensate the past neglect in the province and boost efforts to save and conserve Sahiwal breed. I am sure that newly appointed Director RCCSC, Dr Javed Iqbal, has the steel to run this center successfully and can meet the desired goals of this conservation center. Furthermore, under the WTO scenario the time demands that we rise up for this occasion and save this indigenous breed, which is national resource for all of us

There seems to be two tiers tasks ahead of us. Both need to work symbiotically in a friendly milieu. Strength of one sector will be the success of the other and vice versa. Scientists have to do its gene mapping and put everything on record and publish its profile and apply for its property and propriety rights. Farmers and breeders should raise this animal on their farms and encourage the people to establish its nucleus herd and develop a pressure group to the Government to give incentives for Sahiwal breed.

The need of the Association is essential and may I propose to establish a Sahiwal Breed Association (SBA) to safeguard this breed and its rights. For this reason the undersigned proposes this SOS (Save Our Sahiwal) call to all scientists, farmers, and policy makers to have this association to protect it and safeguard this breed from extinction, as well as from piracy. The purpose of this forum can be summarized as:

  1. To develop & propagate this indigenous breed in the country.
  1. To encourage the farmers to establish its Farm with nucleus herds
  1. To help scientists to provide the relevant record, data number and its further details for building a country record bank, registry and protecting its right in the country and in the global village.
  1. To suggest ways and means for improving and promoting the Sahiwal breed in the country.
  1. Establishment of a Forum enabling researchers, farmers, and extension workers to augment R&D and its proper documentation.

This effort is not to eliminate any breed, or to initiate a futile discussion that which breed is better, which one is economical, but it may only one objective to safeguard Sahiwal breed. Who chooses what, is individual’s choice. One breed may suit to anybody and but may not suit to other depending on his needs, place, purpose and emphasis, etc. This forum will not meant for prescription of any breed or to indulge in the discussions about breeds but to highlight the attribute of Sahiwal breed and to take care its related aspects.

Anyway to keep the record straight it is suggested that a national consensus be developed to review whether we need to import these expensive animals to this country or not, who will benefit and who will loose. Keeping in view the feed resources, epidemics, adaptation and mortality in view, to what extent and how much these animals can help in bringing white revolution in the country and making our dream true to reduce the menace of poverty from the rural masses.

If USA can sustain plenty of milch breeds and can possess almost 52 beef breeds, why can’t we handle and promote our only 2-3 local and adopted breeds of the country. A group of serious farmers, only having stake in this breed, should also join hand to this crusade and become an active member of this body. We further ask the farmers not to bring their liking and disliking and should not indulge in any politics and should work for this noble and national cause.

The Association should be entirely owned and run by private farmers, however, the following officials will be available for technical advice and guidance whenever and wherever needed, so that the efforts done bore fruit and are run in a right directive according to the policies of the Public sector.

  1. Dr Sajjad Zaheer Malik, Director General, Dept of Livestock and Dairy Development Punjab, 16-Cooper Road, Lahore. Tel: (041)-9201117-19.
  1. Dr Muhammad Younas, Professor/Chairman Dept of Livestock Management, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Tel: (041)-9200161-171 Ext 3206, (041)-9201090, E-mail:
  2. Dr Muhammad Sajjad Khan, Chairman Dept of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Tel: (041)-9200161-171 Ext 3202, (041)-2637708, Fax: E-mail:
  3. Dr Javed Iqbal, Director, Research Center for Conservation of Sahiwal Cattle (RCCSC), Jhang. Tel: (0471)-620086, Cell: 0300-7923323.

Today’s (April 14, 2007) workshop organized by the Dr M Sajjad Khan, Chairman and his colleagues, Dept of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, can further the cause of this SOS call for Sahiwal breed and also enrich this idea of Sahiwal Breed Association (SBA) in the country

Dr Muhammad Younas

Dr Muhammad Younas

Ex Dean at Faculty of Animal Husbandry, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
President of CAP (Camel association of Pakistan).

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