More cattle than Germany has inhabitants – but only a quarter of the CO2 footprint

Over 300 million cattle are counted in India – making it an absolute giant in cattle farming on the global market. Surprisingly, however, the country has only a quarter of the CO2 footprint of Germany. High livestock numbers therefore do not necessarily have to be associated with high CO2 emissions.

To better understand the figures: There were around 87 million cattle in the USA on 1 January 24 and around 215 million in Brazil.

This makes India not only the largest cattle producer in the world, but also the second largest beef exporter – especially of buffalo meat. Officially, India does not export a single kilo of beef, but only buffalo meat.

The city of Aligarh, just under 150 kilometres east of Delhi, is the centre of the Indian meat industry. One of the country’s largest and most modern abattoirs is located here. Around 300 tonnes of buffalo meat are produced and frozen here every day.
EigentüIt is owned by the food company Allana, which produces almost exclusively for export. The strong focus on exports is primarily due to the increasing radicalisation of Hinduism in the country in recent years, whose representatives are trying to prevent the slaughter of cattle and buffalo for religious reasons. This is despite the fact that only cows are considered sacred in India and may not be slaughtered, but not buffaloes..

For years, Allana has only invested in new slaughterhouses abroad, for example in Ethiopia. In India itself, it is facing campaigns by radical Hindus who accuse the company of slaughtering not only buffaloes but also cows. Self-justice against alleged beef sinners has increased alarmingly, even to the point of lynching. However, the increasing radicalisation is also dangerous for the animals. In many federal states, buffalo can no longer be sold for slaughter if they no longer give milk. To avoid having to feed them, many farmers simply leave their cows on the road, where they feed on waste and often become victims of road accidents. The country is now trying to counteract this with special animal shelters for cows, the Goshalas. Goshalas have a long tradition in India. They take in old cows, feed them and also provide veterinary care.

While the separation of milk and meat production in animal husbandry has become established in Europe, in India both go hand in hand. This is because buffaloes provide milk for India’s huge domestic dairy market in their early years and – unlike cows – can be sold to the abattoir for meat production once they have finished producing milk.

TIn fact, India is also the largest milk producer in the world. Around 111.8 million tonnes of milk are produced annually, mainly for the domestic market. Milk is an important source of protein for the predominantly vegetarian population.

The country is self-sufficient in milk, although Indian agriculture is considered one of the most inefficient in the world. For comparison: in Europe, a cow produces an average of 7500 litres of milk per year, whereas an Indian cow only produces around 1300 litres per year. The animals often suffer from poor nutrient management, poor treatment and a lack of veterinary care. The quality of the milk is also problematic: the bacteria content is much higher than in Europe, the milk is heavily contaminated with antibiotics and mould and is often diluted with milk powder and water.


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