Recent droughts in India are hitting dairy farmers hard and lack of water and food for livestock is causing farmers to sell off their larger animals at rock-bottom prices.
But, it seems that Indians have come up with a solution. "Heat-Tolerant Dwarf Cows." These tiny cows don't eat as much and come equipped with a "thermometer gene" that allows them to withstand high temperatures unlike their normal sized counterparts. They are also less susceptible to disease.
There is a downside to making the switch to the dwarf cow. They cost just as much as a normal cow and don't produce as much milk.
"I am concerned about the commercial aspects," said K. Ravindran, a farmer from Palakkad. "In order to produce 10 liters of milk, a farmer has to rear at least four Vechur cows instead of one crossbreed."
"Though dwarf milk is costlier, many people — especially the rich who live in flats in Calicut — are eager to purchase it because it is thought to be more nutritious than crossbred milk," said Basha Balakrishnan, a farmer living in Calicut.
Of course the Indian government is anxious to get involved and eager to cite climate change as the reason for India's cattle crisis.
"...Our lifestyle needs to adapt to using our indigenous flora and fauna," said K. Ramankutty, a dairy farmer in Palakkad.
"The dwarf cow is a great weapon against climate change," he said.
But, according to the EPA, domestic livestock - such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels - produce large amounts of CH4 as part of their normal digestive process. Also, when animals' manure is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks, CH4 is produced. The EPA claims that these factors also contribute significantly to global warming. There are over 45 million dairy cows in India releasing methane into the atmosphere. More than in any other nation.
So, if climate change is really the reason for poor weather conditions that are crippling India's cow, a lot of it is probably due to the cows themselves. It's a vicious cycle. Hopefully, these heat-intolerant dwarf cows will come to the rescue of India's agricultural industry and potentially save the world from our global warming nightmare.