Holy cow! India to give its 88 million cows identity cards

Holy cow! India to give its 88 million cows identity cards
A cow is given food at the Gai Puja festival in Amritsar on November 8, 2016.
PHOTO: AFP

Branding and earmarking cattle for ownership and identification purposes are not new practices in the farming world, but now the Indian government has taken a step further by giving millions of cows an identity card.

Each cow or bull will be tagged with a device with a 12-digit identification number which can be tracked online, reported Indian news website The Quint.

The move was launched to keep a track of cattle so that they could be vaccinated on time and help boost breeding and milk production, said the news site.

According to The Quint, the Indian government hopes that by 2022, the move would double the earnings of dairy farmers.

News outlets reported that technicians have been trained to affix a light-weight polyurethane tag inside the ears of cows with an applicator. Designed to be tamper-proof and long-lasting, the tag can't be easily removed by tugging.

"Once the tag is fixed, the technician will update the number in an online database and also provide the cattle owner with an 'animal health card' comprising information such as the UID number, owner's details, vaccination dates of the animals and so on," The Quint said in its report.

Weighing just eight grams, each tag will cost farmers a very low price of eight rupees,

Cows are revered and worshipped in India.The protection of cows is part of Bharatiya Janata Party's core agenda.Photo: AFP


There are nearly 88 million cows and buffaloes in India today, and of these, only 800,000 to a million cattle are tagged, reported the Business Standard.

The government expects all states to complete the task in 2017.

The move is expected to curb cattle smuggling to neighbouring countries. Exporting cattle is illegal in India, but cows had been smuggled in large numbers to Bangladesh and Pakistan, primarily for beef, according to past media reports.

In 2007, Indian border guards had to photograph cows in villages in the eastern state of West Bengal and issue them with identity cards to stop the smuggling of cattle from India to Bangladesh, BBC reported.

chenj@sph.com.sg

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