At present, although the majority of India's cattle is non-descript, there are 43 well defined breeds of cattle and 16 breeds of buffaloes found all over the country. These can be broadly classified into milch, draught and dual purpose breeds. The cows of milch breeds are high milk yielders and, therefore, they are also called dairy breeds. But, their bullocks are of moderate type or of poor quality. The animals of this group are generally ponderous in built, with pendulous dewlap and sheath. They have lateral and often curled horns. Outstanding examples of such breeds are Gir, Sindhi, Sahiwal and Deoni. In the United States of America, these breeds have become good beef breeds.
In case of dual purpose breeds, the cows are fairly good milkers, and bullocks are good for draught purpose. Hariana, Ongole, Tharparkar, Kankrej etc. are dual purpose breeds of cattle. Similarly, the cows of draught breeds are poor milkers but the bullocks are excellent draught animals. Examples are Nagori, Malvi, Kllerigarh, Amritmahal, Khillari, Pan war, Siri, Kenwaria, etc. The important Indian Milch breeds are described here.

Milch breeds

1. Sahiwal

Originating from Montgomery district, now in Pakistan, this breed is found in various parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. This is considered to be the best -Zebu milch breed.

The animal is generally dull in colour. Some may be pale red. dark brown or even blackish and others may have spots or large white areas. They have a symmetrical body, broad head, long deep lethargic and heavy constitution. The skin is fine and horns stumpy. Because of the heavy dewlap, the animal is also known as 'Lola'. The average weight of its males is about 522 kg and that of females is 340 kg. 

2. Sindhi

Even though the natural habitat of this breed is around Karachi and Sind in Pakistan, they can be seen in many parts of India. They are compact animals with a dark red colour. Bull is darker, with well proportioned head. short thick horns and a broad face.

They have moderate drooping ears, heavy hump and pendulous dewlap and sheath. The udder is big and often pendulous. Teats are generally large. The average lactation yield of this breed is about 2000 kg. Bulls are lethargic and slow workers. The average weight of males is 450 kg and female 295 kg.

3. Gir

Gir forest in Kathiawar district of Gujarat is the place of origin of this breed. Massive forehead and long pendulous curled leaf-like ears are its peculiarity. Colour is seldom entire. All stages of mottling in various shades of red to black can be seen. They have well shaped udder with large teats. They produce on an average 2000 kg milk per lactation. Males are slow but heavy worker. The average weight of males is 544 kg and female 386 kg.

4. Tharparkar

The home of this breed is Tharparkar district of Hydeiabad, India, and cattle are now distributed up to south-east in Sind, Amarkot, Naukot, Dhoro Naro, and Chor. The area extends up to Cutch deserts of West India, Marwar in east and Palampur area of North Bombay. The animals are medium sized, deep built, short with. straight and strong limbs. strong well-proportioned frame, broad poll and forehead is slightly convex with medium sized horns. Moderately developed dewlaps with straight and moderately long back.

The bull is fine with black switch, white or light grey line long the spine in young animals. Males show virility. are is moderately developed with 3-4 inches teats. Cows are good yielders. Bulls are good for carting and ploughing. Average milk yield under village condition is 1474 kg.