Nili Ravi Finest Breed in the World for its Various Qualities

Nili Ravi is the world's best milk producer owing to its characteristic of the disease and parasitic resistance, and better convertors of roughages into useful products than cattle. The Nili Ravi buffaloes are normally black in color but brown color is not uncommon.


introduction of Nili Ravi Buffalo

The Nili and Ravi are two types of buffaloes, there is no essential difference between the two types although, for a long time they were treated as different breeds, a closer study indicated that it was a Similar breed.

The Nili Ravi buffaloes are usually black in color but brown colour is not un common. The Nili and Ravi are two types of buffaloes,

Pakistan is among the top five milk-producing countries in the world. It has an annual gross milk production of about 46440 thousand tons. Buffalo contributes approximately 65% of the total milk production. In these circumstances, there are 3 established important breeds of dairy cattle like Nili Ravi, Kundi breed, and Azakeili buffalo. Certain breeds are very well adapted to the harsh climatic condition of the region and have an advantageous disease and parasitic resistance properties. As far as the economic point of Nili Ravi is affected; it is one of the best milk-producing breeds in the world under tropics and sub-tropics harsh climatic situations.

The Nili Ravi buffaloes are normally black in color except brown animals also found Nili and Ravi are two types of buffaloes, there is no essential distinction between the two types although, for a long time they were treated as different breeds, closer study indicated that it was a distinction without a difference, and now they are officially used as one breed. This is considered to hold one of the greatest breeds of buffaloes in India only to the Murrah. Like the Murrah large number of animals are exported annually from the breeding areas for milk production in cities. The Nili Ravi buffalo is a milk kind of buffalo. They are found mainly in Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Multan, and Bahawal Nagar districts in Punjab Province.

Domestication of draught animals in the Indus valley civilization is referred to about 4 500 years ago. It is the most important livestock in Pakistan. It is also present in India and in Punjab. The Water Buffaloes in the Punjab province of Pakistan belong to the genus Bubalus bubalis. the Nili Ravi buffalo is the central dairy buffalo in the country. Certain animals grow best in irrigated fields where they have easy access to water and plenty of green fodder. They are generally considered as semi-aquatic animals but if fed well and under good control, are competent in producing reproducing adequately in dry areas even with limits of climates as well. The Pakistani buffaloes are considered to be triple purpose domestic animals milk, meat, and draught. The recording of buffaloes is mainly undertaken in the seven institutional herds and on a few military farms. Apart from this, buffaloes at the farm level are recorded under the progeny testing program which has been operative since 1980. Dairying is still not undertaken on a commercial basis so the level of inputs is very low. Generally, animals are fed on crop residues with some additional forage/fodder grown for this purpose.

Hay and silage making does not exist, except to some extent for institutional herds. Concentrates are fed to those animals that are kept for the sale of milk. The government facilitates vaccination against contagious diseases at nominal costs. About 5-10 percent of breedable females are artificially inseminated while the rest are mated naturally with bulls of a good type. Credit facilities have also been made available to farmers for the purchase of milk yielding animals but on a limited scale, The most common breeds present in Pakistan are the River Nili Ravi and the Kundhi and azi kheli buffalo.

 1. Nomenclature of Nili Ravi

About four decades back, the Nili and the Ravi have considered two separate breeds as described by the Indian Imperial Council of Agricultural Research (1941) and they derived their names from the blue (Nili) water of the Sutlej River and the valley of the Ravi River, respectively.

Wahid (1976) concluded in his study that the Ravi and the Nili were originally two distinct breeds as they belonged to two different areas with little or no communication between them. Under this situation, in-breeding in the rural herds was inevitable which resulted in the fixation of certain morphological characters in each breed.

Later on, when colonization started in Punjab from 1915 when the "Lower Bari Doab Canal" (L.B.D.C) was commissioned to irrigate the centuries-old parched and thirsty plains and the means of communication improved, there was a frequent movement of men and animals resulting in the admixture of blood of the two different breeds, producing animals possessing blood of the two breeds in varying proportions. Both the breeds, therefore, lost their distinctive attributes and the majority of them neither be classified as typical Ravi or typical Nili.

During the fifties of the 20th century, buffaloes were being presented by the breeders for competition at the National Livestock Shows at Lahore every year as two separate breeds. The livestock judges started feeling a great difficulty to distinguish between Nili and Ravi animals in the show ring because morphologically there was not much distinctive distinction between the two breeds. Moreover, these traits being judged in the arena were not related to production. Thus, ultimately, the experts decided to group Nili and Ravi strains as one breed under the common name of Nili-Ravi. Since then, it is known as the Nili-Ravi (N.R) breed of Pakistan.

 2. Origin and Development of Nili Ravi

Cockrill (1974) explained the origin and domestication of Nili/Ravi and Kundhi breeds of Pakistan by referring Olver (1938) and Banda (1938) that Nili and Ravi were the varieties of the Murrah which differed little from it except in geographical location i.e., Sutlej and Ravi river valleys as distinct from Rohtak, Kamal, Gurgaon, and Delhi for the true Murrah. However, in 1938 (ICAR, 1939 a) the Nilianimals were presented as a breed at the first All-India Cattle Show and after the second and third shows, the Nili and Ravi were briefly described in ICAR Bulletin No. 46 (1941 a).

Their breed characteristics were defined in ICAR Bulletin No. 47 (1941 b) and later the authors followed this description (Ware, 1942 d; Phillips, 1945: Pakistan, 1949; Haq, 1950; Kaura, 1952). Sarwar and Ishaq (1957) added some details to the description. The Nili is found in the Sutlej Valley, particularly in the Mailsi tehsil of Vehari district and the Pakpattan tehsil of Sahiwal district. The Ravi is found in the Sandel Bar area of the Ravi River valley, particularly around Kamalia, Samundri, and Tandlianwala in the Faisalabad district, Chichawatni of Sahiwal district and Mardani, Fatehpur and Gogera of Okara district and in districts of Gujrat and Jhang on the banks of the Chenab River.

According to Wahid (1976), the exact origin of Pakistani buffaloes is not known. The earliest record of buffaloes of Pakistan is found on a soapstone mass like seal discovered at Mohenjo-Daro and now lying in Lahore Museum. It shows swamp buffalo at a manger. It could indicate that the buffaloes were domesticated as draft animals by the Indus Valley civilization some 4500 years ago (Cockrill, 1970). At present, they are used as triple-purpose (milk, meat, and draft) animals in Pakistan in the order of utility given above.

It appears that the farmers in Pakistan, particularly in Punjab, have been primarily concentrating on milk production and fat content for quite a long time with the result that the better-bred buffaloes can now be classified as one of the best milch animals in the world.

This work has been further supplemented by the laudable efforts of the research scientists of the Department of Livestock experiment stations and animal husbandry by producing the stud bulls with superior genetic background and issuing them to the breeders at a subsidized price to upgrade the rural buffaloes. At present, the pace of buffalo improvement is being accelerated through a program of producing the progeny tested bulls and using the germplasm through artificial insemination services

 3. Home Tract of Nili Ravi Buffalo

The home tract of Nili Ravi breed is around the Sutlej and Ravi Valley (Sandel Bar Areas) particularly Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Okara and Sahiwal, Multan and parts of Bahawalnagar districts of Punjab. However, due to their well-recognized dairy qualities, these animals are now found all over the country. The tract is chiefly low-lying. The soil is sandy. Rainfall is scanty and erratic. The summers are very hot and dry, particularly during May and June.

Parts of the area becomes inundated when the Ravi and Sutlej Rivers are in spate during the monsoon months of July and August. The chief fodder crops are peas, rape or mustard, turnips, maize, sorghum, Senji (Melilotus alba), Maina (Medicago denticulata) Shaftal (Trifolium resupinatum), Guara (Cyamopsis tetragonaloba), Wheat, and gram. Egyptian clover and Alfalfa have also been introduced and farmers are taking it up well. There are no well-defined pastures but good grazing is available in bet area and reed with a luxurious growth of Maina (Medicago denticulata).

The buffaloes quite relish it. With the introduction of canal irrigation in the tract, ecology, climate, and crop agriculture have changed. The .cash crops like wheat, sugarcane, cotton, maize, rice, and others are grown in abundance in addition to fields of conventional green fodder. The Buffaloes are well-fed on grown fodders forage stubbles and crop residues in addition to grazing in the bet areas. The animals get plenty of chance to wallow in the canal/river water during summer months and find the environment quite suitable and comfortable for production and reproduction.

 nili ravi buffalo pictures

4. Nili Ravi Buffalo Breed Characteristics

These buffaloes are massive, somewhat wedge-shaped animals. Nili-Ravi buffaloes are usually black in color but brown color is not uncommon (1015 percent). Wall-eyes and white marking on forehead, face, muzzle, legs and tail switch are common and are very much desired. Pink markings on the udder and brisket are some time found. They possess medium well-set heads with small active walled eyes and curly horns. The neck is long, thin in female and thick, powerful in males. The legs are comparatively short with good bones. They have large, strong and well-developed udder. The tail is well set, broad at the base .and tapering at ends that goes up to fetlock or just below, it has a big tuft of hair that may touch the ground. The disqualifications include white marking extending above knee and hock, all black tail and extension of white face markings over neck and body

 5. Nili Ravi Milk Production and Yield

It had been a practice to record the milk production of individual buffaloes (Nili-Ravi) maintained at the Government livestock farms of Punjab since late forties of the twentieth century so that the selection of superior individuals may be made for the production of future breeding bulls on one hand and better replacements on the other so that the production level of the herds is improved. Milk production recording was further extended to the animals of grantee farms from 1963 onward. In this particular endeavor, the mention of one grantee farm of Lawari Sharif in Sind province where Kundhi buffaloes were being maintained, it is worth mentioning.

The only recorded information about the production and reproduction performance of Kundhi buffalo which is available by this time pertains to that source. Wahid (1976) analyzed the milk production records of Nili-Ravi buffaloes maintained at the Livestock Experiment Station, Qadirabad which were available on the basis of total production as well as production standardized to 300 days and worked out the frequency distribution of milk yield on a total production basis. The overall total average milk production was found to be 5170 lb (2345.1kg) with a standard deviation of 1892lb (858.2 kg)in an average lactation period of 312 days.

It was further observed that 68.17 percent of the buffaloes in the herd produced milk in a lactation ranging from 4001 to 8000 lb (1814.8 to 3628.8kg). Almost 7 percent of the herd produced from 8001to over 11000lb (3629.2to 4989.6kg). When these production records were standardized to 300days of lactation it was observed to be 4830lb (2191kg) with a standard deviation of 1655lb (750.7kg). On the basis of economic milk yield Wahid (1976) further classified the Nili-Ravi buffaloes as under:

He recommended that animals in Merit Register clas and Silver Medal class should be continuously improved in genetic potential by selective breeding to reduce the percentage of low producers and elevate the level of production to about 7000-8000 lb (3175 to 329 kg) per lactation of 300 days. Future breeding bulls are to be produced by the Silver and Gold medal classes for progeny testing program. 

The average milk production of outstanding 48 Nili-Ravi buffaloes in the herd was reported to be 8716 lb with a standard deviation of 445 lb (3953.6 ± 201.9 kg) in a lactation period of 300 days as against the overall average production of 4830 ± 1655 lb(2191 ± 751 kg) during a similar period. Ishaq (1972) analyzed the milk production records of Nili-Ravi buffaloes pertaining to the period from 1962 to 1971 and reported that the average milk yield in a lactation period ranging from 318 to 338 days varied from 4780 lb (2168.2 kg) to 6129 lb (2780 kg) with a daily wet average of 15.0 lb (6.8 kg) to 18.5 lb (8.39 kg)

 6. Lactation Yield Persistency in Nili Ravi

It is an important tool that helps to estimate the milk production performance of an animal-based on a partial yield. Some researchers and breeders have also used the partial lactation yield as a tool to predict the probable total yield in a given lactation for the selection of superior germplasm at an early date. Its usefulness is even more vital in the selection program of animals with a long generation interval. Thus, the validity of such mechanics must be very conservative to avoid any chance of over-estimation. 

Ishaq (1972) reported the milk production persistency · in Nili-Ravi buffaloes. It was studied for 11 periods each of 28 days interval starting from the beginning of lactation. Taking the average total yield of a herd as 100 for 308 days percentage yield during each interval was worked out

It was concluded that the peak of the lactation yield is attained in the second twenty-eight-day interval and is maintained until the end of 112 days. Thereafter, the decline in the yield starts. It was further inferred that 55 percent of the total lactation yield is produced in the first 140 days of the lactation period.

 7. Nili Ravi Composition of milk

The water buffalo is known for high milk yield containing reasonably high butterfat which provides her an edge over the high yielding exotic or crossbred cows in the country when compared on the basis of fat corrected milk (FCM). The butterfat contents ray be influenced by many environmental factors in addition to the inherent potential of an animal. Ishaq (1969) reported the butter-fat, solids not fat and fat globule size in Nili-Ravi buffaloes based on data pertaining to the years 1963 to 1968. The effect of age of an animal, its lactation number and stage of lactation on butter-fat yield were reported The butterfat contents ranged from 5.9 to 6.8 percent and solids not fat from 9.0 to 9.6 percent. The total solids were found to be 15 percent.

The stage of lactation was found to be significantly influencing the butterfat content in the milk. With the advancement of a stage of lactation, the fat contents also increased. However, the solids, not fat contents and butterfat globule size do not seem to be spectacularly affected by the stage of lactation. The latter varied from 5.5 to 6.4 microns.

 8. Buffalo Production efficiency

The information in this regard is essential to judge the economy of milk yield by an animal. It would indicate the feed consumption capacity of an animal with different body weights and how much roughages/concentrates it needs to produce a unit of milk containing a specific level of milk fat and solids, not fat (SNF). From nine years data on ad-libitum feeding of five lactating Nili-Ravi buffaloes on

good quality green fodder, Ishaq (1969) observed that these animals not only maintained satisfactory health and live weight of 1382 to 1458 lb (626.9 to 661.3 kg) but also produced on the average 17.7 to 22.0 lb (8.03 to 9.98 kg) of milk daily containing 6.0 to 7.1 percent milkfat and 8.7 to 9.1 percent SNF. The usual green fodder consumed was Egyptian clover and Japan rape in winter and sorghum, maize mixed with cowpeas in summer.

 9. Nili Ravi Lactation Lenth

In a given lactation, the number of days an animal yields milk has a significant effect on the total and over-all daily milk production and hence helps the breeder to cull the poor yielders. Ishaq (1972) reported the lactation length (percent below 200, from 20(305 and over 305 days), average milk yield per lactation from 20(305 days only and milk yield (percent up to 3000 lb, from 3001 to 6000 and over 6000 lb) in a herd of Nili-Ravi buffaloes in nine years. It was observed that 1 to 7 percent of the animals had lactation length below 200 days whereas 36 to 61 percent had 200 to 305 days and 37 to 57 percent above 305 days

10. Production variability in Nili Ravi

Variation in any economic trait is very much desirable. It provides the basis for further improvement through the selection and elevating the average production level of a given population. Such a useful character has been studied in Nili-Ravi buffaloes and reported by many workers. Ishaq (1972) reported that 1 to 10 percent of the buffaloes of a given herd produced up to 3000 lb (1361 kg) of milk in lactation of 200-305 days. During the same period, 6077 percent produced 3001 to 6000 lb (1361 to 2722kg) while 14 to 39 percent produced over 6000 lb (2722 kg). There were few animals that we're able to produce from 9000 to 10000 lb (4082-4536 kg) and could be used as future bull dams.

 11. Yield inheritance in Nili Ravi

The genetic quality of many breeds of cattle is being improved by the use of selected and tested bulls or by cross-breeding with superior germplasm but very little consistent selection and up-gradation have been done with buffaloes of the world. The same applies equally well to the buffalo of Pakistan. Some selection had been practiced on a herd basis to develop milking strains like Nili-Ravi and Kundhi. However, most buffalo breeding has been done at random without the selection of either cows or bulls.

There has not been any progeny selection and testing program in the past except within single herds aimed at locating superior sires and dams and certainly very little concerted effort to bring about the improvement of the general buffalo population. Recently, a program of production recording and identification of bull dams for the production of p1ogeny tested bulls has been initiated in Nili-Ravi buffalo involving the rural-based herds.

12. Factors affecting production

In addition to the inherent potential, the nutritional regime of an animal has a major influence on its milk yield. However, there are many other factors like age at calving, calving interval, the season of calving, climatic stress particularly the hot and humid conditions and ev.en body measurements which affect the milk production of buffaloes. In this chapter, the effects of these factors are described. Age, Year and Season of Calving

13. Thermal Stress in Nili Ravi

Wahid (1976) described the work of some researchers from Egypt and India in respect of the environmental physiology of water buffalo which has some relevance to the buffaloes of Pakistan. According to him:-

i) Body temperature and respiration rate are closely correlated with air temperature. Atmospheric humidity has got a little effect.

ii) Buffalo calves under one year of age suffer more from heat stress than do

iii) When exposed to direct sun, buffaloes show greater signs of discomfort than the Zebu cattle. The heat tolerance coefficient of the latter was 88 as compared to 61 of buffaloes.

iv) Wallowing is more effective than hosing or hand-splashing in reducing the body temperature of buffaloes.

v) The provision of outdoor shade is more effective than indoors in maintaining normal body temperature and respirations.

vi) High temperature decreases appetite and reduces milk yield. Humidity is important when it is very high (70-80 percent) and acts as additional thermal stress.

vii) Milk yield is negatively correlated with skin thickness and positively correlated with size and number of sweat and sebaceous glands. Wahid further reported that milk production of buffaloes can be materially improved by selection for yield, provision of shade outdoors, indoors feeding, protection from hot wind and frequent showering or wallowing during the summer season.

14. Body Measurements of Nili Ravi

It is always convenient to select buffalo cows if there exists some relationship between their anatomical features and milk producing ability. While judging and selecting such animals on a phenotypic basis, the breeders have always emphasized the conformation and type, keeping in view the wedge-shaped body and the udder size. The bigger paunch girth, perhaps, gives more room for the feed and forage consumption and consequently more milk production. Shah et al. (1981) studied the relationship between body measurements and milk production in Nili-Ravi buffaloes. The data were gathered on 106 animals which were in different lactations (ranging from 1 to 8), with days in milk ranging from 8 to 402, having average live weight 642.7 kg, body length 150 cm, heart (chest) girth 215.5 cm, paunch girth 246.5 cm and average daily milk yield of 10 kg.

15. Nili Ravi Skin Structure

Majeed (1973) made a study on the quantitative aspect of various skin structures of Nili-Ravi buffalo heifers during the summer season. The research effort was designed to investigate the gross and histological structure of the skin with a ·emphasis on quantitative aspects of various skin parameters and their inter-relationship.

According to him, this information may be helpful in explaining the little known thermoregulatory mechanism of this important dairy animal of the east. Some of these peculiarities have long been employed for the selection of milch buffaloes in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent and it is Possible that quantification of these skin parameters may eventually end up in some easily accessible and precisely measurable indicators for higher milk yield and better tolerance of heat.

Eight whole skins of Nili-Ravi buffalo heifers were obtained during July and August 1971. Their mean weight was 17.851 kg and surface area 56957 cm2 (about 64 sq feet), skin samples were obtained from the forehead, back, mid-neck, shoulder, mid flank, lateral thigh, brisket and lower abdomen locations on the left and right sides of each skin. Four of the heifers were black and four brown in color: two, in either case, showing the white markings of much preferred "Panj-Kalyan" pattern. Information in respect of skin parameters studied in this experiment

16. Nili Ravi Meat Production

The baby calves born to the ruminants are though anatomically polygastric at birth but they are not functional in the true sense. They suckle the milk from their dams and the only compartment "abomasum" functions like a monogastric stomach. The young calves cannot take and digest the feeds and fodder in the beginning. With the passage of time, the rumen develops and harbors microflora for digestion and utilization of roughages for proper growth and development. This is the stage in the life of a young ruminant when it really puts on weight most efficiently to produce meat.

17. Growth Rate in Nili Ravi Buffaloes

According to an estimate, more than 1.5 million male buffalo calves are available per annum in the country from 6.015 million breedable buffaloes which is a great potential source of beef production if harnessed on scientific lines. The buffalo and cattle combined contribute 53.62 percent of the total 0.650 million tons of red meat in the country every year. Their individual contribution to this production is 49.4 and 50.6 percent, respectively.

The initial body weight, subsequent growth rate and efficiency of gain are the chief factors which influence the economical meat production at the end. Ishaq (1972) reported the growth rate in male and female Nili-Ravi buffalo calves studied at a Government livestock farm during the period 1963 to 1971. The average birth weight was noticed to be 84 to 89 lb (38.10 to 40.37 kg) and 78 to 87 lb (35.38 to 39.46 kg) in males and females, respectively. The average daily gain in first four quarters of life ranged from 1.2 to 1.6 lb (0.544 to 0. 725 kg) in male calves and 1.0 to 1.3 lb (0.453 to 0.589 kg) in female calves

18. Weight and efficiency of gain

These two traits play a fundamental role in beef production. Malik and Ishaq (1969) conducted the fattening trial on buffalo calves by substituting cottonseed Cairn (C.S.C) with urea. Fifteen male calves of 12 months' age were used by dividing them into three groups A, B, and C according to their body weight. A period of 15 days was allowed to adjust to the new rations and environment. Ration "A" contained 39 percent C.S.C while its substitution with urea in ration "B" and "C" was done at the rate of 1.0 pound of urea for every 13.0 lb of C.S.C on protein equivalent basis. In other words, the ration "B" and "C" contained urea at 1.0 and 2.0 percent levels, respectively. The composition of the rations is given in Table 35. In addition to the rations, each calf was given 3.0 lb of green fodder daily to meet the carotene requirements. The study was conducted for 91 days

19. Feed utilization in Buffaloes

Since long feeding of Buffalo has been carried out in a haphazard manner. Some studies on buffalo feeding reveal that the standards of feeding used for cows (hos indices or hos Taurus) hold true and do not show any distinction between the two species but huge bulk of research work carried out in different parts of the globe especially in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent showed controversial conclusions. According to some workers, the buffalo utilizes the feeds better than the cows and according to others, the conclusion is vice versa. One thing that has always been agreed upon is that the buffalo utilizes crude fiber better than bovine cows.