The Vechur breed is a very rare one indeed and holds the title for the smallest breed in existence, according to the Guinness Book of World records.
They are named after the village from which they originate, Vechoor in the Kerala state in India. The breed was actually saved from extinction following conservation efforts. A conservation unit was founded in 1989, while a Conservation trust was formed in 1998 to further help strengthen numbers.
The breed is actually very useful, even though it is small is size. It averages at heights of up to 87cms and lengths of 124cms. It is a highly valued breed, due to the larger amount of milk it produces relative to the amount of food it needs to thrive.
The breed was more popular in the 1960’s, though became rarer as natives began crossbreeding it with other breeds. It is reported that 200 cows remain in existence today, though over half of which are being cared for by a Veterinary college.
A dairy breed, the Vechur can yield up to 3 litres of milk each day. This, although not a huge quantity, is all done with little feed and care. Their milk has smaller fat globules, which is thought locally to have medicinal benefits.
A recent study found that the milk had more beta-casein variety A2, rather than the A1 variety which is connected to diabetes and heart disease, among other ailments.
Studies have also found that proteins found in Vechur milk have greater antimicrobial properties. It was found to contain the lactoferrin protein, found in all milk, which not only has antimicrobial properties but also antiviral, antitumour, anti-inflammatory and immunodefense properties. These properties were found to be more enhanced in Vechur Cow milk than from other breeds.
A butter, Vechur Ghee, is widely known for its medicinal benefits and is still widely used to this day.
The smallest breed in the world, though it could be said that the milk it produces packs the hardest punch, the Vechur.