Sri Lanka has approximately 750,000 cattle and buffalo milk cows. Annual milk production has increased by 65 million litres from 2015 to 2019 alone while there has been an eighty-fold increase of meat consumption and a tripling of egg consumption per capita since 1980.

There are few breeds of dairy cattle used for milk production. The selection of a cattle breed largely depends on the bio-climatic condition in the region. European breeds are recommended for upcountry wet and intermediate zones, while Indian breeds are recommended for low country dry and intermediate zones. There are also cross breeds for the low country wet zone.

Cattle breeds for up country

  • Ayrshire
  • Friesian
  • Jersey

Cattle breeds for low country

  • Sindhi
  • Sahiwal
  • Tharparkar (cattle)
  • AMZ (Australian Milking Zebu)
  • AFS (Australian Frisian x Sahiwal)
  • Local crossbreeds. (“Indigenous” or “native” “local” is no longer valid; they are cross breeds of indigenous cattle with Indian bos indicus breeds and mostly found in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. True indigenous breed of local cattle became extinct in the late Recently they have been called “Lankan Cattle, but not true Lankan cattle).

With the exception of a few breeds, most of the dairy breeds can be used in most bio-climatic areas providing that the level of management is high and the availability of quality fodder is well planned. The Australian Frisian x Sahiwal has not met the expectations of a tropical dairy breed.

Cattle breeds for mid-country

  • Jersey
  • Friesian
  • AMZ

Hatton cow or Cape cattle were good milking breeds available before the present exotic milk breeds were popularised, presently extinct.

Local breed Thamankaduwa White Cattle confined to the eastern part of the island

Cattle breeding

The main cattle breeding method is using Artificial insemination (AI), which covers approximately 60% and Natural Breeding using improved breeds of stud bulls is practiced in remote areas and it covers approximately 25% of the total. Artificial Insemination (AI) is being practiced using locally produced semen and a limited amount of imported semen.

There are two AI Stations available in Sri Lanka, namely Central Artificial Insemination Station (CAIS) situated in Kundasale, in Kandy district and Artificial Insemination Station situated at Kaduruwela, Polonnaruwa.

The current revenue generation from the cattle farm is at around Rs 3.59 Mn per annum.