Amrit Mahal Cattle
Amrit Mahal literally means the department of milk. Originally the rulers of Mysore State had started an establishment of cattle collected from the prevalent types of cattle within the area for the supply of milk and milk products to the palace. At the same time, the bullocks were utilized for the movement of army equipage. The bullocks were regularly classified as gun bullocks, pack bullocks, plow bullocks, etc. They attracted great attention during the nineteenth century on account of their endurance and the speed with which they could move army equipment. It is claimed that they could maneuver a march of 100 miles in 2 1/2 days. The cattle of Amrit Mahal establishment originally comprised three distinct varieties: Hallikar, Hagalvadi and Chitaldroog. Prior to 1860 it seems that these three varieties were maintained separate from each other. In 1860, the whole establishment was liquidated for reasons of economy. By the year 1866, it was realized that an establishment for the supply of cattle was necessity, and during the year a herd was again established. Thus, the foundation cattle from which the Amrit Mahal breed was developed were of the Hallikar and closely related types.
The coloring of Amrit Mahal cattle is usually some shade of gray varying from almost white to nearly black, and in some cases white-gray markings of a definite pattern are present on the face and dewlap. The muzzle, feet and tail switch are usually black, but in older animals the color looks lighter.
The most striking characteristic of these cattle is the formation of the head and horns. The head is well-shaped, long and tapering towards the muzzle. The forehead bulges out slightly and is narrow and furrowed in the middle. The horns emerge from the top of the poll, fairly close together in an upward and backward direction, and terminate in sharp points which are usually black. In old animals the long sharp points approximate each other and may even interlace to some extent. The eyes look bloodshot. The ears are small and taper to a point, being carried in a horizontal position. They are yellow inside.
The dewlap is thin and does not extend very far. The sheath and navel flap are very small and close to the body. The hump is well-developed and shapely in the bulls, rising to a height of about 8 inches. The body is compact and muscular with well-formed shoulders and hindquarters. The neck is strong and fairly long. The back is level, with broad loins and level rump. Legs are of medium length and well-proportioned. The fetlocks are short and the hooves are hard, close together and small. The skin is thin, mellow and jet black in color, with short glossy hair.
As the cattle are maintained in the pasture areas without any restrictions and handling, they show a very impatient, wild and unruly disposition. They are at time dangerous, particularly to strangers. They need patience and care in training; hard treatment makes them stubborn. Once they are trained they are extremely fine bullocks, particularly for quick transportation. They are observed to have great endurance. Cows are very poor milkers.
Joshi, N.R., Phillips, R.W. (1953) Zebu Cattle of India and Pakistan, FAO Agriculture Studies No. 19, Publ. by FAO, Rome, 256 pp.