Rathi is an important dual purpose Indian cattle breed whose home tract lies in the heart of Thar desert. These animals are particularly concentrated in Loonkaransar Tehsil of Bikaner district, also known as the Rathi tract.
In addition, Rathi is also found in Ganganagar & Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan and in Fazilka & Abhror district of Punjab, adjoining Rajasthan. Farmers of this region, use this breed as a major source of livelihood.
The breed takes its name from a pastoral tribe called Raths who are Muslims of Rajput extraction and lead a nomadic life. Rathi cattle originates from the mixture of Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Tharparkar and Dhanni breeds apparently with a predominance of the Sahiwal blood.
Nomads own and breed these animails, generally move with their herds from one place to another depending on availability of water and grazing pasture. Wheat straw, pala leaves and chaffed sewan grasses are fed to animals. At times, chaffed sorghum and pearl millets are also substituted for grasses and leaves. Dry stalks of sorghum and pearl millet are fed in the lean season. Lactating animals are provided with concentrate mixture in proportion to their production. Shelter is not provided for these animals except during extreme weather.
Like other native animals, Rathi breed is well-adapted to a hot climate , resistant to many diseases and hence they are used for crossbreeding in other countries. In India the number of pure-bred cattle including the Rathi breed is declining drastically.
Efforts to save these animals has been stepped up. Breeding farms are established for this breed at Bikaner and Hanumangarh. The Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of Rajasthan is currently engaged in breed improvement and veterinary health care & disease control programmes.
May the Rathi breed, as also the other pure Indian breeds, flourish.