In March 2021, we raised funds from our friends, family and well wishers to buy, protect and raise cows native to Tirunelveli, of the Thenpandi (தென்பாண்டி) breed. We have been sending monthly updates to them the last 12 months. This month onwards, we are going to send the update to the followers of our blog as well. Here is last month’s update :
This is Sudhakar. Noushadya and my hiatus from the farm for the last 2 months was for her delivery at Birth Village, Kochi. Our baby girl was born on the wee hours of 31st January. Welcome to the world, Vanya!
My appa managed the farm while Noushadya and I were away. While we were away, right after our last email for Pongal, a few of the cows contracted foot-and-mouth disease. It is a communicable disease. The cattle interact with other cows from surrounding farms and villages while grazing. So, most likely, that’s where our cows got the disease from. The risks of this disease are severe and the worst result is that hooves fall off, if left untreated. We tried traditional medicines such as neem oil and turmeric, but even after application for about a week, the effects didn’t seem to reduce. So, we had to reach out to the local government veterinary doctor to treat them with allopathic medicine. He seemed to be busy and couldn’t visit after repeated calls by my appa. Eventually, my appa found another contact of a retired compounder of the government veterinary hospital. He was faster in responding and visited our animal shed promptly. He applied some spray and gave a few antibiotic injections for 3 cows : Kanmani, Raja, the bull and one of the calves. They responded to the medicines and healed quickly.
The compounder also checked for signs of pregnancy for a couple of cows and confirmed that both Kanmani, the lone hybrid calf, and Payudha, our oldest cow, are pregnant. Because we have not tied a saradu kayuru (a rope that is passed through the nostrils) which is usually tied to tame the cows, newcomers are afraid to approach the other cows. So, it wasn’t possible to check the status of pregnancy of other cows.
We concluded our rice harvest last month and have saved up on hay. We have decided to not buy hay this year onwards. During the break between the rice crop and pulse crop, the cows have free access to the fields for a brief period : they will get to enjoy wild grasses that have grown in the bunds of the rice crop. Good rains last year have ensured that there are still enough grasses for them to graze on. For fresh grass, we have started cultivating super napier now, in addition to napier. The next few weeks of summer will decide whether the feed will suffice for the entire family. Payudha, the oldest cow has been limping the last few days and seems weak – we have fed her cotton seed and she seems stronger now. But the limp persists. There isn’t any visible injury. We will call the doctor or the compounder if it doesn’t get better.
It has been exactly one year since the native cows arrived at the farm. It has been an amazing journey to watch them settle down with us and get used to a new place. We want to do more justice to this journey by focusing on more sensitive aspects such as exchanging bulls to prevent inbreeding. We want to figure out preventive techniques for protecting them from ailments and diseases.
P.S. We have managed to raise funds of ₹162,000 for their maintenance (towards wages and feed) for the year 2022-23. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. We cannot do this without you all.