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Cholistan and Cholistani Breed of Cattle
U. Farooq, H. A. Samad*, F. Sher1, M. Asim1 and M. Arif Khan2
University College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur; 1Government Livestock Farm, Jugaitpeer, Bahawalpur; 2Cholistan Development Authority, Bahawalpur, Pakistan *Corresponding author:


Cholistan, once a green and prosperous land with the source of water being the ancient Hakra River, was also the cradle of great Hakra Valley Civilization. It is sprawled at an area of 26,000 Km2, located between the latitudes 27º42´and 29º45´North and longitudes 69º52´and 75º24´East. The bioclimatic system of Cholistan falls under the category of “tropical desert” with very scanty rainfall. Geomorphologically, the soils of Cholistan are a complex blend of river alluvium and Aeolin sands. Based on topography, type of soil and vegetation, this desert is divided into two geomorphic regions: the Lesser Cholistan (the Northern 7,770 Km² region) and the Greater Cholistan (the Southern 18,130 Km² region). The primary source of water is rainfall which is utilized through natural depressions or man-made ponds called “Tobas” and “Dahars.” The secondary source is underground water which is brackish and salty and not fit for human/animal consumption. Two livestock production systems prevail under pastoralism in Cholistan viz. transhumanie and nomadic. Despite an uncertain, unpredictable rainfall, low humidity and extremes in temperatures, Cholistan has long been famous for raising different breeds of livestock, contributing a significant share to national milk, meat and wool output. The total livestock population estimated during 2006 was 12,09528, out of which 47% were cattle. Cholistani cattle are considered to be ancestor of the Sahiwal and are a thermo-tolerant, tick-resistant breed. Preliminary data on some productive and reproductive traits of Cholistani cows maintained at Govt. Livestock Station, Jugait Peer, Bahawalpur during the period 2005 to 2009 revealed the avergae values for the productive traits i.e. lactation length, lactation yield, dry period, service period and fat percentage in milk as 165 days, 1235 liters, 155 days, 121 days and 4.8%, respectively. Similarly, the average values for reproductive traits i.e. age at maturity, age at first calving, gestation period and calving interval were 1112, 1390, 278 and 422 days, respectively, which are at par with those of Sahiwal and Red Sindhi cattle. However, comprehensive data supported by research need to be analyzed to manipulate the potentials of this breed. Furthermore, gene mapping and Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) will open up new horizons to study performance traits of Cholistani cattle in detail.

Key words: Cattle, Cholistan, Hakra river, Pastoralists, Performance traits


ISSN 0253-8318 (Print)
ISSN 2074-7764 (Online)