The shortest cow is Manikyam, owned by Ashkay N.V. (India), in Kerala, India. She measured 61.1 cm (24.07 in) from the hoof to the withers on 21 June 2014.
GWR travelled to Kerala, India, to visit mini Manikyam. We asked local veterinarian Dr E M Muhammed for the lowdown on this diminutive bovine...
When did you first hear about Manikyam?
About two years ago, we became aware that this animal was much shorter than ordinary cows. Manikyam was about four years old at the time, but even when she was only nine or 10 months old we could tell there was something different about her. We monitored her closely from the age of two. By the age of four she was around 64 cm (2 ft 1 in) tall.
How does Manikyam compare to a conventionally sized cow?
Usually, our local cows are about 150 cm (4 ft 11 in) in height. Manikyam is a Vechur breed, well known for producing dwarf cows. Vechurs tend to grow to a maximum height of around 90 cm (2 ft 11 in).
Why do you think the area produces such short cows?
We think it may be to do with the unusual climatic conditions of our state. It is hot and particularly humid here, and we believe this has an effect on the height of our cattle. If Vechur cattle are taken elsewhere in the country, over time they increase in height. It’s only in Kerala that they maintain their dwarf stature. Really interesting!
We’ve been working in this field for the past 10 years. It seems that Vechur cattle have what is known in the scientific community as “thermometer genes”, which allow them to survive in hot, humid conditions. And they are highly resistant to infection too – they can even withstand foot‑and-mouth disease.