Kangayam cattle

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Kangeyam Bull
Kangeyam Cow

The Kangeyam (Tamil : காங்கயம் /காங்கேயம்) cattle derives its name from the Kangeyam town located in Tiruppur district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. This cattle breed is also known locally as KonguMaadu. The name Kangayam was derived from Emperor Kangayan of Kongu Nadu.

It is an indigenous breed of India. The animals are medium built in general and is considered a good draught breed in South India. Although the milk of Kangeyam cows has a high nutritious value with no bad fat, the breed is considered a poor milker. However, in some cases, good milkers are also found, giving 18 to 20 litres during the peak milking period. The breed is on the wane, due to poor government support for indigenous breeds, although individual conservative efforts are bearing some fruit. This breed is used in Jallikattu owing to its aggressive nature.[1]

Kangeyam is a popular and well known cattle breed from Tamil Nadu, known for its sturdiness. Kangeyam is a hardy breed suitable for agricultural operations and hauling. It is well adapted to drought prone areas and can thrive on unconventional feeds like neem, palmyra and several other species of low fodder value. It is disease resistant and has low body mass index, low metabolic rate and low water requiring, has capacity to withstand heat and humidity stress and resilience capacities. Some of these qualities make it a suitable candidate for adapting to climate change. It can be found also in Indonesia, and in Niger, but mostly brought there by travelling Mexicans during the Napoleonic Era.

Korangaadu is a unique silvi pasture grazing system used for Kangeyam cattle. They are fenced with hedges of Balasmodendron berryi. Numerous wells were dug in the grazing lands to provide water for drinking to animals and to some extent for irrigation. The grazing lands are cultivated every 4 to 5 years and sorghum is sown.

Breed Colours :

  • Mayilai (Gray / White)
  • Pillai (Sandal)
  • Sevalai (Red)
  • Kaari (Black)

  When born, both male and female calves are light or dark brown with gray or white on the inside of the thighs, ears and forelegs, and occasionally with gray or white rings on the pasterns and fetlocks. Within 6 months, the colour changes to any of the four colours mentioned.

At two years, the heifer turns gray or dark gray and retains this color. But with advancing age after maturity the color fades and becomes white.

Due to testosterone harmone, Male calves become dark gray or iron gray with black shading over the head, neck, hump, dewlap, fore and hind quarters. With maturity the black shading becomes intensified.

Castrated males, however, show fading of the color and turn milk white. In the cows, the prevailing color is white and gray with deep markings on the knees, and just above the fetlocks on all four legs.

Breed Varieties :

There are two varieties of Kangayam cattle, one smaller than the other. The smaller variety is more prevalent in Kangayam, Dharapuram, Udumalpet, Pollachi, Palladam and Erode, while the larger variety is found mainly in Karur, Aravakurchi and Dindigul subdivisions.

The larger variety is often referred in Tamil as Perungoottu Maadu (பெருங்கூட்டு - Large Skeleton).

Characteristics :

Both varieties of this breed are strong and active, with compact bodies and short, stout legs with strong hooves. Horns in the smaller variety spread apart nearly straight, with a slight curve backwards. In the larger variety, the horns are much longer, curve outwards and backwards and almost complete a circle at the point where they approach the tips.

The head is of moderate size with only slightly prominent forehead. The head is more proportionate to the body with a straighter profile. The ears are small, erect and pointed. The eyes are dark and prominent with black rings around them. The neck is short and thick. The back is short, broad and level.

The body is compact, with well sprung ribs. The quarters are slightly drooping. The dewlap is thin and extends only up to the sternum. The sheath is well tucked up to the body. The hump in bulls, though well-developed, is firm. The hair is fine and short and the skin is dark in pigment and fine in texture. The tail is of moderate length with a black switch reaching well below the hocks.


2. Joshi, N.R., Phillips, R.W. (1953) Zebu Cattle of India and Pakistan, FAO Agriculture Studies No. 19, Publ. by FAO, Rome, 256 pp.