Distribution and Habitat of Surti Buffalo
The home of the Surti buffalo is the well-known 'Charottar' tract of Gujarat state, which embraces Kaira district and the adjoining territory of Baroda and lies between the Mahi and Sabannati rivers. The best specimens of the Surtibuffalo are found in Nadiad, Anand and Borsad taluks in Kaira district andPetlad in Baroda district of Gujarat State. The Surti breed is also known as the 'Deshi' or 'Nadiadi'.There is no special class of breeders who breed these buffaloes. Individual farmers maintain a buffalo or two as a subsidiary source of income. A special class of people known as Vagharis maintain buffalo bulls for breeding purposes. These bulls are those that have escaped death from starvation and have been given over to the Vagharis. The farmers are averse to keeping buffalo bulls.
Soil and Climate
The general aspect of the track is almost an unbroken plain. The soils of the tract, which is one of the most fertile in the State, are of four chief types, viz.
(i) light or gorat,
(ii) medium or besar,
(iii) black or kali, and
(iv) alluvial or bhatta.
The light or gorat is the prevailing soil varying in quality from the loose grained yellow sand of the fields near the Sabarmati and the Mahi rivers to R rich light brown mould. The richer variety is known as goradu besar. The average rainfall of the tract is 15 to 90 cm. Although the rainfall is moderate the tract is liable to floods. From November to March, the climate is pleasant and bracing but the heat during the rest of the year is severe, very dry in April and May, and moist and oppressive from June to October. The average temperature is 28°C, the maximum being 47°C and the minimum about 6°C. Bajri is the principal crop mixed with a moth, mung and other pulses, and is the staple grain food. Iowar is grown to a much less extent but is imE.ortant as a fodder. Rice is grown in black or medium besar soils. Coarse grains such as kodra and bauto are also grown.
Wheat is not an extensive crop. Tobacco is the most valuable cash crop of the district. Castor-seed and sesamum are the only oilseeds grown. The cultivation of cotton is extending and garden cultivation is extensive. In almost every field, a broad strip of land (headlands) is left along the hedge for the supply of grass. This is either grazed or preserved and cut twice a year. Fodder is stacked in sufficient quantities for the year. It consists mainly of grass, jowar and bajri stalks, rice and kodra straws, and gotar composed of leaves and twigs of various legumes and the husks of pods. The principal trees found are mango, tamarind, banyan, babul, neem, malwa and rayan.
The Government of Maharashtra is maintaining a pedigree herd of Surti buffaloes at the Agricultural College Dairy, Kirkee, near Poona. The annual average milk yield of the Surti buffalo herd at the College Diary varies from 1,590 to 1,725 leg. Good specimens of the breed give an average 2,270 to 2,495 kg of milk in a lactation period of 10 to 11 months. The maximum lactation yield recorded is 3,365 kg in 421 days. The highest milk yield recorded per day was 21.75 kg during the flush period. The dry period varies from 4 to 6 months.
The average J butter-fat content is 7.5 percent. The highest butter-fat content recorded is 10 percent. The average age at first calving of well-fed animals is 3 years and 9 months; the maximum is 4 years and 4 months and the minimum is 2 years and 9 months. The Surti buffaloes are valued as economic producers. They are distributed in south Gujarat and the Deccan. Bombay city imports annually 8,000 to 10,000 buffaloes from Gujarat.
(a) General: The Surti buffalo (Plate 17) is a well-shaped animal of medium size. Typical mature buffaloes weigh from 545 to 635 kg while mature breeding bulls weigh 635 to 725 kg. The Surti bucalo is rather low on the legs. The disposition is mild and placid. The general appearance is bright with prominently round, rather bulging eyes.
The horns are of medium length and sickle-shaped. the color is black or brown (bhura) ; good specimens have two white collars, one just round the 'jowl' from ear to ear and second lower down around the brisket akin to breastplate worn by horses. No other breed of buffalo has as straight a back as this one.
(b) Head: The head is rather long, fairly broad and rounded between the horns. The forehead is round, slightly bulging and clean-cut. Face and muzzle are, clean and sharply narrowed below the eyes with big nostrils and muzzle. Eyes are round, bulging (prominent) with a bright and intelligent look; frequently a white streak of hair occurs over the eyebrows.
Ears are medium-sized with reddish color inside. The lower border of the ear is frequently fringed with white hair. Horns are sickle-shaped. They are flat, with transverse corrugations on the surface, take a downward and backward direction and then turn upwards at the tip forming a hook.
(c) Body and Limbs: Neck is fairly long and thin in females but thick and massive in bulls. There is no dewlap. The chest is" broad between the legs with prominent brisket. Shoulders are long and sloping, blending smoothly with the body. Legs are of medium size with broad black hoofs. The barrel is well built, of wedged shape and medium size. It is rather narrow towards the front and wide behind in females. In bulls, the front is much more developed, while the hind portion is narrow.
Back is straight and wide. Ribs are well sprung and rounded. Navel flap is small, and sheath in bulls is medium. There 'is no hump. The withers arch blends smoothly with the backline. Hind-quarters are straight, wide and deep. Loins are broad and straight. Hips are broad and flat (not fatty). Rump is broad and slightly sloping (almost level). Pin-bones are wide apart. The flanks are wide. Thighs and buttocks are flat and muscular; the twist is II'gh-up in the females giving plenty of room for the udder. Hocks are prominent and strong. The tail is fairly long, thin, flexible and. frequently ends in a white tuft. The skin, although fairly thick, is pliable, soft and smooth with scanty hair.
The colour of the skin is generally black or reddish. With lack of exercise and confinement, the skin assumes a peculiar reddish .colour as if sun-burnt. Bhura(brown) colored animals are also met with. The color of the hair varies from a silvery grey to a rusty brown. Even in dark-c:: colored animals, the color of hair below the knees and the hocks is generally grey. The escutcheon is not very well defined.
(d) Udder: The udder is well-shaped, well-developed and well set on the barrel. It is soft and pliable. The skin of the udder is pinkish in color. The teats are of medium size and squarely placed. Milk veins are prominent and full
Averages for different body measurements in the two sexes are presented in Table 17.