ROHTAK, India (AP) — Even beasts can be beautiful.
Hundreds of cows and bulls walked the ramp in a north Indian town Saturday in a bovine beauty pageant aimed at promoting domestic cattle breeds and raising awareness about animal health.
As farmers led their animals, the panel of experts judged the beasts for their size and overall looks, the length of their horns and, for the cows, their milk-yielding capacities.
The judges selected 18 winners in various categories, choosing the healthiest and best-looking cows and bulls from more than 630 animals in the contest, held in the farming town of Rohtak in Haryana state.
On the ramp, the bovines displayed their individuality. Some sashayed with casual grace, while others dug in their heels and had to be pulled and prodded by their owners to walk for the judges.
The winners, representing three different breeds, carried home prizes and a winner's sash.
The farmers led their prize cows with pride at the sprawling grounds of the International Institute of Veterinary Education and Research.
"I have brought my best cow for the show and she has won a prize," Randhir Singh, a farmer from nearby Dwarka village, said as he pointed to a red ribbon tied around the head of his well-groomed cow, which won first place in its category. "I wanted my cow to win and she has done me proud."
Prem Singh, the Haryana official in charge of animal husbandry, said only indigenous breeds were allowed to take part in the contest because the state government was trying to popularize local breeds of cows.
Farmers from all 21 districts of Haryana participated in the cattle show and pageant, the official said.
In recent years, India has emerged as one of the world's largest producers of milk, although yields from Indian cows are low compared to those in Europe or America. The government is trying to improve milk yields of domestic cows by offering better veterinary support and counseling to cattle farmers.