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Cow at the core of Sustainability

The 20th cat­tle count report was released recent­ly and India has shown an increase in cat­tle pop­u­la­tion with the cow pop­u­la­tion being 14.51 crores. How­ev­er, this report indi­cates a decline in native breeds of cows call­ing for a larg­er scale preser­va­tion and breed­ing of these vari­eties. Most farm­ers pre­fer high-yield milch cows there­by neglect­ing the desi vari­eties. How­ev­er, the native breeds which are deeply con­nect­ed to this land have util­i­ty beyond pro­duc­ing milk. The Rashitriya Kamad­henu Aayog is aimed at mak­ing cows more pro­duc­tive for farm­ers and increas­ing their income. This in no way sug­gests that cows should be viewed as com­modi­ties. Cows have been revered in India since time immemo­r­i­al and have been part of every house­hold. Urban­iza­tion, glob­al­iza­tion and changes in con­sump­tion pat­terns have changed the cow ecosys­tem of the coun­try.

Much can be writ­ten about native breeds of cows. They are resilient, easy to main­tain, pro­duce health­i­er milk and their waste has immense util­i­ty. We shall look at this in anoth­er arti­cle. In this arti­cle, we would like to focus on some of the uses of cow­dung and urine. This will help farm­ers look beyond milch cows.


Bio-gas comes through a bio-chem­i­cal process where bac­te­ria helps to turn the bio-waste into fuel. Cat­tle dung is one of the key inputs in a bio-gas plant. With a sin­gle cow, you could add a mix­ture of cow-dung and water amount­ing to 10kgs and pro­duce cook­ing fuel which can last for 2–3 hours a day. This has been our prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence. Scal­ing up or down is eas­i­ly pos­si­ble by cus­tom design­ing the bio-gas plant. Click here for excel­lent resource on bio-gas in India. With India being the sec­ond-largest importer of lpg espe­cial­ly from the mid­dle east, mov­ing to bio-gas can be a great step towards sus­tain­abil­i­ty. The abun­dant aban­doned cat­tle can be a great gift (with­out send­ing them to slaugh­ter hous­es).


The per capi­ta bio-degrad­able waste is about 500–800 gms every day in India. So a fam­i­ly would be pro­duc­ing about 2–3 kgs of bio-waste in a day. Com­post­ing is pick­ing up in urban areas quite well. Here is our arti­cle on com­post­ing at home. When there is large scale of bio-waste, cow­dung can be used to turn it into manure. Adding cow-dung to hay, dry leaves and veg­etable waste can enhance the process and qual­i­ty of manure pro­duced. For ver­mi­com­post pro­duc­tion, cow­dung can be used for predi­ges­tion. Read this excel­lent arti­cle on ver­mi­com­post­ing by TN Agri Univ.

Jee­vam­ru­ta which is a mix­ture cow­dung, cow urine, jag­gery and flour is an excel­lent soil qual­i­ty enhancer and boost­er for plant growth. More about Jee­vam­ru­ta prepa­ra­tion here.

Med­i­c­i­nal Prop­er­ties

Cow urine, accord­ing to sev­er­al ayurvedic texts, has excel­lent med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties. It has purifi­ca­to­ry prop­er­ties and bio-enhanc­ing prop­er­ties. Through a care­ful process of dis­til­la­tion, a liq­uid called ark is pro­duced which has sev­er­al known med­i­c­i­nal ben­e­fits. It can also be used as floor clean­ers due to its dis­in­fec­tant prop­er­ties. Cow urine is also mixed with eco-con­struc­tion mate­r­i­al to keep away ter­mites.

Vedic Plas­ter

Vedic plas­ter is a mix­ture of lime and cow dung. It is a great ther­mal insu­la­tor requir­ing almost no cur­ing time. Unlike chem­i­cal plas­ters, vedic plas­ters help the wall breathe keep­ing the air fresh.

Oth­er prod­ucts

There are numer­ous prod­ucts that can pre­pared from cow waste includ­ing soaps, diyas(lamps), cow­dung cakes for tra­di­tion­al havans, vib­huti (sacred ash).

Each of these have eco­nom­i­cal, sus­tain­able and spir­i­tu­al sig­nif­i­cance. Watch this space for more arti­cles on cow-based sus­tain­abil­i­ty.

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