The Gir or Gyr is one of the principal Zebu breeds originating in South Asia. It has been used locally in the improvement of other breeds including the Red Sindhi and the Sahiwal. It was also one of the three Zebu breeds used in the development of the Brahman breed in North America. Two of the most famous foundation sires, Manso and Emperor, carried a high Gir content. This can be seen in their down-swept horns, big humps, straight wide backs, and beautifully sloping, filled out hind quarters. In Brazil and other South American countries the Gir is used frequently because, as a Bos indicus breed, it is resistant to hot temperatures and tropical diseases. It is very known for its milk producing qualities and is often bred with Friesian cows to make the Girolando breed.
The Gir is distinctive in appearance, typically having a rounded and domed forehead (being the only ultra convex breed in the world), long pendulous ears and horns which spiral out and back. Gir are generally mottled with the color ranging from red through yellow to white, it is also found in black color. They originated in southwest India in the state of Gujarat and have since spread to neighboring Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Actually the name is GIR & not GYR as misspelled by some of the people, GIR is a place famous for last abode of Asiatic lions, the place is situated about 45 kilo meters from the district headquarters of Junagadh, in Gujarat state of India. The breed was kept by local people known as Maldhari for their livelihood. The breed is known for its distinct appearance, height & weight and natural beauty which makes it very different from the Jersey cows etc. The breed is today on the verge of extinction from India as people of India are using more of buffalo milk then the cow's milk. (The breed is on verge on extinction due to lack to breeding programs and irrational crossbreeding with breeds more common to western nations.) Finding it economically difficult for the people to keep a gaay in their herd. Today however due to efforts of social activist Mr. Mansukhbhai Suvagiya (a farmer turned industrialist and a revolutionary visionary from small village of Junagadh District) the awareness is created among people of Gujarat about saving this real pride breed of Gujarat. Mr. Mansukhbhai Suvagiya along with his other friends have started a plan of breeding 10,00,000 high quality gir gaay in Gujarat to regain the lost grounds. For this noble cause a trust has been formed in rajkot known as Jalkranti Trust. The trust as of now carries out two main activities of Gir Gaay Breeding and Water conservation. The efforts of this man & his team have started showing results in terms of increase in the no. of gir gaay and increase in the general awareness of People. Many of the Swaminarayan Temples have also helped in preserving this high quality breed from Gujarat, which includes Charodi Swaminarayan gurukul at Ahmedabad, Bhuwneshwari pith gondal in the state of Rajkot, Sagwadi Education & gaushala Charitable trust at Bhavnagar etc. High quality gir gaay are available in the district of Junagadh, Bhavnagar, amreli, and Rajkot in the state of Gujarat
Distribution and Habitat
The native tract ~f this breed is the Gir hills and forests in the south of the
Katbiawar Peninsula (Gujarat) on the West Coast of India. The cattle are
found mainly in the districts of Junagarh, Bhavnagar and Amreli in Gujarat
In an impure form Gir cattle can be seen over a wide area, including large
portions of western Rajasthan, northern part of Maharashtra and over a wide
area including north Gujarat to Kutch. Pedigree herds are being maintained
in some of the gowshalas near Bombay.
Soil and Climate
The surface of the area is for the most part undulating. The texture, quality
and depth of the soil are quite variable; much of soil is generally black witb
scattered tracts of the lighter kind of soil. Black soil is supposed to be very
fertile, but the lighter coloured and red soils also respond well to irrigation.
Climate of the tract in general is pleasant. The rainfall is moderate, ranging
between 50.8 cm and 63.5 cm in the northern and central areas, while in the
west as in Junagarh and in the south the annual rainfall averages between
101 cm and 114 cm. Most of the rains occur during the monsoons in the:
months of June to October.
Gir bullocks are heavy and powerful draught animals and work at a slow
speed. The cows are good milkers and the milk yield as high as 3,182 kg in a
lactation period of 325 days has been recorded, but the average lactation yield
in well-maintained herds is 1,590 kg in 300 days. The maximum daily yield
recorded is 31.0 kg with a fat percentage of 4.5. The average age of first calving
is 51 months and subsequent calvings occur at 14 to 16 months' intervals. Gir
bulls have been extensively used in western India for grading local cattle. Gir
has contributed to the development of a number of other breeds like Mewati,
Deoni and Nimari.
(a) General: The general appearance is strikingly impressive (Plate 2).
Animals are of medium size with a well-proportioned body, clear-cut lines and
a robust constitution. An average mature female weighs 386 kg and male 546 kg.
The typical animal has a majestic bearing, an intelligent expression ~d a kindly
look; light, easy and proud gait; and a docile temperament.
The massive forehead, the peculiarly curved horns and the long pendulous
curled ears are the most characteristic features of the animals, and are the
indication of the purity of the breed. The colour varies from entire red wim
light patches to a mottled white and red or chocolate-brown. The popular
colour is white with dark-red or chocolate-brown patches distributed all over
the body. The sides of head, ears, crest of hump and extremities are of the
'same colour as that of the patches. A blotch of either dark or light colour,
generally found on one or both sides of the barrel, is typical of this breed.
(b) Head: The head is moderately long but massive in appearance. It is
the most important characteristic of the breed.
Forehead is extremely bulging with a smooth rounded appearance in front,
bei_ng wider between the root of the horns above the eyes though dipping near
the crown. Crest line is short and inclined to be curving. In the male, the
frontal bone is markedly developed. Face is narrow, clean, straight on the sides
and rounded below the eyes, ending in a moderately-sized, well-chiselled square
black muzzle with wide nostrils. Lower jaw is powerful with the throat covered
with part of the dewlap. The eyes appear to be placed rather high up in a line,
more or less with the root of the ears, full and prominent but covered with
,heavy eyebrows which give them an almond-shaped appearance and a sleepy,
Ears are very large and pendulous, .hanging like a curled-up leaf, almost
meeting at the end of the muzzle when stretched, rolled up like a cylinder at
the base, gradually broadening out half. way, curving inwards, then again
tapering off at the end, with a characteristic nick at the tip. Horns are moderate
in thickness and length. Starting at the base of the crown, they take a down-
, ward and backward curve and again 'incline a little upwards and forwards,
taking spiral inward sweep, finally ending in a fine taper.
(c) Body and Limbs: ' Neck is fine, slender and well proportioned, blending
well into shoulders and carrying the head well over the level of the back.
In males the neck is short and thick'due to the development of hump.
Dewlap is thin and hanging in fine folds but not too pendulous. It is more
developed in male than in female.
Chest is deep, full and well developed, with a broad and level brisket, free
from excessive muscle. Legs are well proportioned and muscular with shoulder
merging well into the body. Hump is markedly developed but medium sized,
gradually sloping in front but falling abruptly at the back. Upper part of foreleg is fairly long and well made with the elbow subdued. Knee is round and
strongly made. Shanks are straight with bones of good size. Fetlock joints are
strong, medium sized and shapely with dew claws well attached. Pastern is
short and clean cut. Coronet is well-defined and running evenly in ring. Hoofs
are of black colour, medium size, shapely and round and medium hard, with
digits set well apart but not spreading.
Barrel is deep, long and proportioned. Rudimentary teats in males are well
placed and are pale orange in colour. Back is strong, long and wide, but dipping slightly forward towards the hump.
Ribs are well, sprung and well set into the backbone, long and evenly curved
so as to bring barrel into line with hind and fore-quarters. Bottom portion of
barrel is broad and level with a narrow ribbon of skin edging from brisket to
navel. Navel fiap is pronounced but not pendulous. In males the sheath is
slightly pendulous and conspicuous.
Hind-quarters are broad and well developed. Loins are broad, fiat and level,
with bones not coarse, yet angular and more prominent in female than in, male.
Rump is long, broad, fiat and, more or less, level. Pin-bones are wide apart and
set high. They are not so angular or well defined in the male as in female.
Flanks are deep flat and lean.
Thighs are broad, flat and sloping abruptly to hock. Buttocks are wide but
slightly angular when viewed from behind. Twist (inside of thighs) is fiat
providing plenty of room between the hind-legs. Tail is deeply placed between
pin-bones. It is long, strong and flat at root, but tapering finally to a good
switch almost touching the ground.
Hocks are strong and fiat. When viewed from side, the hocks are, more or
less, straight. Viewed from behind they show good width between the legs.
Legs are straight and squarely placed, the bone being fiat and of good quality
with strong joints appearing slightly coarse.
Skin is loose, pliable, of fine quality and black or light in colour. Hair are
short, well-set and form a nice smooth coat. Escutcheon is broadly developed
on udder and thighs, running with good width, keeping same and unbroken
up to pin-bones.
(d) Udder: Udder is medium sized, but capacious, flexible mellow to touch,
shapely, compact, well attached and distinctly quartered. Fore-udder does not
run too far forward. Hind-udder is full and extends well up behind. Surface
is smooth with a network of blood vessels and covered over with short fine
hair. Teats are 10 to 11 cm in length, equal in thickness but rather closely
placed. Milk veins are very prominent, large, branched, with extensions entering large orifices or wells.
Averag~s for different body measurements in both the sexes are presented
Points for Disqualification
Anyone uniform colour other than red, flat forehead, straight or small ears
with less than 25.4 cm width at the broadest part, and straight horns are considered as points for disqualification.