Changing socioeconomic conditions are shrinking the populations of some of the best indigenous goat breeds in India. Jamunapari, one of the highest milk-yielding breeds also reared for meat, is disappearing from its native upper Gangetic plains in Uttar Pradesh. It is also known for its big size. Another breed Beetal of Punjab, also used for both meat and milk, is declining in number.
Jamunapari constitutes 0.75 per cent of the total goat population and Beetal 0.22 per cent. Scientists blame loss of vegetation and habitat for dwindling populations. India has 23 recognised breeds of goats; together they form only a third of the total goat population. Acco rding to the Livestock Census 2007, which for the first time calculated breed wise population of goats, rest of the goats are of non-descript nature. Most indigenous breeds ha ve evolved through adaptation to agro-ecological conditions; and are very well adapted to harsh climate, long migration and lack of vegetation and water. Government’s breed improvement programmes have not been able to make extensive use of indigenous breeds.
Indian breeds are divided into three categories on the basis of their use. Marwari in the western dry region of Rajasthan, Kutchi in the Gujarat plains and Black Bengal in the plains of West Bengal are reared for meat. Jamunapari in upper Gangetic plains, Beetal in trans Gangetic, Jhakrana in the central plateau and Osmabadi in the western plateau are known for high milk yield. Chigu, Changthangi and Gaddi goats in northern temperate regions are reared for good quality pashmina, chevon and hair.