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Data provided by the latest animal census has revealed that the population of cows in Maharashtra has dipped significantly over the past few years. Figures suggest that the population of cows dipped by 10% in the last seven years. However, the population of sheep and goats increased by 4% and 25%, suggesting that the impact was solely on the cattle population in the state. 


Diving deeper into the figures, the census revealed that the cattle population in 2012 was 1.54 crore while this had fallen to 1.39 crore by 2019. The number of breedable indigenous cows and bullocks dropped by 13% and 32% respectively. 


This is despite the State Animal Husbandry Department shelling out Rs 75 crore over the last two years for the establishment of Gaushalas or cattle shelters. This also included the setting up of fodder relief camps in drought-affected regions of Maharashtra.


As per an official, one of the key reasons for the decline in the cattle population is simple economics. When the cows or bullocks are unable to work owing to age or any other factors, keeping them around becomes inefficient for the farmers. 


Previously, ineffective cattle were traded for calves. But since the ban on beef consumption in the state, this is no longer a viable option for the farmers. The sale or consumption of beef in the state is punishable with a 5-year jail term along with a fine of Rs 10,000. 


Other farmers believe that the government’s incentives towards mechanization have led to the decline in cows and bullocks in the state. Another farmer added that it is uneconomical to keep a cow that can only produce 2 litres of milk per day. 

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