Protecting Native Breeds – Meet the Bull Lady
Soundaram Ramasamy (46) is a livestock keeper and breeder of pure Kangayam cattle, and popularly known among the fellow residents of Kathasamipalayam village in Tirupur district as ‘Kalai Kara Amma’ (or Bull Lady) since she possesses seven sturdy Kangayam bulls. (Right Picture - Kolukkatai’ grass fed to the bulls )
A winner of ‘Breed Saviour’ award instituted by National Biodiversity Authority and LIFE Network, a consortium of NGOs, Mrs. Soundaram stands out from the rest of the livestock keepers by her dedicated involvement in activities promoting conservation of pure Kangayam cattle and more importantly, in the preservation of ‘Korangadu,’ a typical grazing area necessary to sustain the species. “It is in fact heart-warming that a farmer, which too a woman, showing interest to protect a native breed of cattle from extinction.
“Moreover, she has dedicated an expanse of 10 acre out of her total 15-acre farm land to grow ‘Korangadu,’ containing 29 types of shrubs/trees and referred by United Nations as ‘globally important agricultural heritage system,’ amid the tendency prevailing to convert such lands for real estate purposes,” tells Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, managing trustee of Senapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation, an NGO in the district involved in promotion of Kangayam cattle.
The manner in which Mrs. Soundaram prepares her bulls for breeding is a treat to watch and a case study for research on in-situ conservation techniques. She takes the bulls to graze only in the ‘Korangadu’ area which is rich with a mixture of monocot and dicot plants like Kolukkatai’ grass (Cenchrus ciliaris sp), ‘Kilivuai Mullu,’ and ‘Vellai velan,’ and ensures that her bulls eat a ‘balanced diet.’
“These give the stipulated quantity of protein, carbohydrates and micronutrients for growth of Kangayam cattle species,” she says.
A whistle with her fingers will make the hefty animals from the grazing area to rush toward her and stand near her like obedient ‘children.’ “My wife and bulls share a sentimental relationship,” tells her husband Ramasamy, who is raising groundnut and maize crops.
Her bulls are serving almost six cows a day, a practice which she is following for last few years. Besides this, she also travels to nearby areas and adopt calves of good pedigree so as to use them for pure breed improvement.
She has the talent to identify good pedigreed calves by observing physical features like humps, horns, tail, and sexual organs.
Mr. Karthikeya Senapathy is of the opinion that the State Government should revive the scheme of giving stipends to breeders of native cattle species as an encouragement to them.