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
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
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.
We are currently searching for photographs or slides of this breed.