Cattle penning is the new fad

Popularity of organic, natural farming leads to increase in demand for bovine urine, dung

Cattle penning is the new fad

But the farm of  Ramappa Sakroji outside Naregal near here presents an unusual picture. Hundreds of cattle, mostly cows are herded on his 11-acre land. “This is cattle penning, akin to sheep penning. It has the same beneficial effect on the land, perhaps better,” says Sakroji.

A votary of organic and natural agriculture, Sakroji has hosted 390 cattle on his land, herded by three brothers, Bharamappa, Parasappa and Bheemarayappa of Keralli in Koppal district. Thirty-five of the cattle are calves.

The brothers, whose livelihood comes from cattle penning, charge Sakroji Rs 600 a night for penning their cattle on his field. “We live in the jungles. We pen the cattle on farmers’ fields and live on what the farmers pay in terms of cash and grain,” Bheemappa says.

For three generations, cattle-rearing has been the source of livelihood for the family. The brothers sell the male calves, after looking after them for six to eight months. Only the female calves are retained.

They let the cattle graze in the harvested fields and jungles, drink in the ponds. When the fields are full of standing crops, the cattle are taken to jungles to graze. The brothers mainly roam in Bellary, Koppal, Gadag, Bagalkot and Raichur districts. Their nomadic life keeps them away from their families for a long period of time. 

There is greater demand for cattle penning these days, with greater awareness about organic and natural farming as the most sustainable form of agriculture.  The dung and urine of cattle form valuable natural fertiliser and cow urine can be an effective pesticide.

“Penning the cattle increases the fertility and productivity of the soil, thanks to the dung and urine of the animals. That is why the farmers request us to pen cattle in their fields,” Bharamappa says.

“Agriculture chemicals limit productivity after a while and also ruin the soil, making it barren,” says Sakroji.  It is a zero sum game with the price of chemical fertilisers and pesticides going up, and their effectiveness coming down in an inverse proportion, and trapping farmers in a debt spiral. It is also the main reason for farmers’ suicides.

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