Sahiwal is a breed of Zebu cattle which primarily is used in dairy production. Sahiwal originated from the Sahiwal district of Pakistan, a region in Punjab province of Pakistan. They produce the most milk of all zebu breeds, followed by the very similar Red Sindhi and Butana breeds.
The Sahiwal originated in the dry Punjab region which lies along the Indian-Pakistani border. They were once kept in large herds by professional herdsmen called "Junglies". With the introduction of irrigation systems to the region they began to be kept in smaller numbers by the farmers of the region, who used them as drought and dairy animals. Today the Sahiwal is one of the best dairy breeds in India and Pakistan. Due to their heat tolerance and high milk production they have been exported to other Asian countries as well as Africa and the Caribbean.
Their colour can range from reddish brown through to the more predominant red, with varying amounts of white on the neck, and the underline. In males the colour darkens towards the extremities, such as the head, legs and tail. The males have big hump; they have height at withers of 136 and 120 cm for males and females, respectively.
It is tick-resistant, heat-tolerant and noted for its high resistance to parasites, both internal and external. Cows average 2270 kg of milk during a lactation while suckling a calf and much higher milk yields have been recorded. As oxen, they are generally docile and lethargic, making them more useful for slow work.
The Sahiwal is the heaviest milker of all Zebu breeds and display a well-developed udder. Sahiwals demonstrate the ability to sire small, fast-growing calves and are noted for their hardiness under unfavorable climatic conditions. Other characteristics include:
- High milk yields
- Tick and parasite resistance
- Heat tolerant
- Ease of calving
- Drought resistant
- Bloat tolerant
- Good temperament
- Lean meat with even fat cover
Due to its unique characteristics, Sahiwal breed is exported to wide list of countries and regions. The Sahiwal breed arrived in Australia via New Guinea in the early 1950s. In Australia, the Sahiwal breed was initially selected as a dual-purpose breed. It played a valuable role in the development of the two Australian tropical dairy breeds, the Australian Milking Zebu and the Australian Friesian Sahiwal. Sahiwal cattle are now predominantly used in Australia for beef production, as crossing high-grade Sahiwal sires with European breeds produced a carcass of lean quality with desirable fat cover. Sahiwal bulls have demonstrated the ability to sire small, fast-growing calves, noted for their hardiness under unfavorable climatic conditions.
The contribution of the Sahiwal breed to adaptability is well documented in Kenya, Jamaica, Guyana, Burundi, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and several ecological zones of Africa where Sahiwals have been crossed with exotic Bos taurus breeds that have a high response capability for milk and beef production but lack adaptability to local conditions. The present Sahiwal cattle in Kenya are descendants of some 60 bulls and 12 cows imported between 1939 and 1963. The Sahiwal breed also is considered unequalled in transmitted effects for milk production among Bos indicus breeds. Kenya is the main country in Africa with major resources of Bos indicus Sahiwal cattle and serves as an important source of stock and semen for the continent.
Similarly, this breed is also exported to many other regions of Asia including India. The cows are the heaviest milkers of all zebu breeds and display a well-developed udder. In Pakistan the breed is being conserved by the Research Centre for Conservation of Sahiwal Cattle.
- Oklahoma State University breed profile
- Handbook of Australian Livestock, Australian Meat & Livestock Corporation,1989, 3rd Edition
- Genus Bos; Cattle Breeds of the World, 1985, MSO-AGVET (Merck & Co., Inc.), Rahway, N.J.
- Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.
- Research Centre for Conservation of Sahiwal Cattle