Stray cattle in Goa, India’s premium tourist hub, have turned ‘non-vegetarian’ and only eat scraps of chicken and fried fish, says Michael Lobo, the coastal state’s Science & Technology, Ports and Garbage Management Minister.
“We have lifted 76 cattle from Calangute and taken them to a Gaushala run by the Gomantak Gosevak Mahasangh in Mayem village where they are being looked after. We always say cattle are vegetarian. But cattle from Calangute have turned non-vegetarian and do not eat grass, gram or the special cattle feed given to them,” said Lobo, who is a BJP MLA from Calangute Assembly Constituency, at a function during the weekend.
A senior scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute, who requested not to be named, said in response to the minister’s claim, “Cows are herbivorous animals. I can’t believe cows would reject or refuse natural food such as grass.”
“Cows can consume non-vegetarian food such as fish-meal, which have been used for a long time as livestock feed, but when grasses are made available, they would consume that too,” he conceded.
Interestingly, a Food and Agricultural Organisation document points out that the use of fish by-products for feeding livestock is a centuries’ old idea mentioned in the “Travels of Marco Polo”, reports the Telegraph.
“They accustom their cattle, cow, sheep…to feed upon dried fish, which being regularly served to them, they eat without any sign of dislike,” the FAO document says, quoting from the 13th century text.
The beach villages of Calangute and Candolim in North Goa receive the highest number of tourists, both domestic and international and have a high density of restaurants and eateries. The two villages also have a high concentration of stray cattle, several of which have met with accidents.
Stray cattle have been a menace on Goa’s roads for more than two decades on account of factors such as increase in vehicular density, a waning interest in agriculture and errant cattle owners who abandon the cows when are advanced in age and unproductive.
Concerned by the rising number of accidents caused by stray cattle, the Government of Goa had even launched a special scheme to address the issue, in 2013, which involved providing incentives to village panchayats and municipal bodies to impound stray cattle and fine their owners.