The Siri is a small-sized indigenous Zebu draught breed, and found in the hill tracts around Darjeeling in Bengal, India and also in Sikkim and Bhutan. Siri is also known as “Trahbum”. This breed is said to be the native of Bhutan where it is known as “Nublang”. Its breeding tract includes Darjeeling, Gyalshing, Namchi, Gangtok, and Sikkim. The males are mainly reared in the hilly area, for draught purposes, and sometimes they are the only source of draught power for the region.
The Siri bullocks are good workers while the cows are fair milkers. These animals graze on the steep slopes of the hilly forests, and are mostly housed in open houses on the slopes. The Siri cattle can survive very well in the mountains, due to their long and powerful legs. The bulls are very valuable as they are one of the strongest amongst the native breeds and are well suited for the purpose of carting. They can carry about 350 to 400 kgs of weight, over the hills. They are also used for agricultural work such as ploughing, cultivating, threshing, etc.
Siri cattle are allowed to graze throughout the year despite the scanty pastures during most of the year. Dry animals and young stock are taken for pasturing in the government reserved forests at higher altitudes during summer months.
The milking cows and bullocks are stall-fed, and receive rice straw, maize stover or hay along with green grass. Concentrated feed is given in minimal quantities. The population of the Siri cattle has been found to be declining fast, on account of their crossbreeding with Jersey cattle.
In most of the states, either the crossbreds are fast replacing the indigenous cattle or the growth of the crossbreds are far ahead of that of indigenous cattle. This situation needs to be addressed urgently.