Farming sacrificial cattle has turned so lucrative that numerous small- and large-scale fattening operations have been set up in the last couple of years, drawing huge investments and eventually meeting the demand during Eid-ul-Azha, the second largest religious festival of Muslims.
Last year, 1.06 crore animals were sacrificed against a supply of 1.16 crore, according to the Department of Livestock Services (DLS).
This year, 1.19 crore are available, of which 45.38 lakh are cattle, 73.55 lakh goats and sheep and 4,500 other livestock.
This self-sufficiency came about through the establishment of fattening units for bulls mostly in dairy farms.
Many investors are taking on a three to six months' operation during which cattle of a certain age and health are bought from around the country and put on special diets tuned for weight gain.
Running in conjunction with dairy units helps meet day to day costs through the sale of milk.
The viability of this business has even drawn corporate houses and educated young entrepreneurs into commercial livestock farming.
"We have been self-sufficient of sacrificial animals for the past three years and no animal has been allowed to be brought in from India, Nepal and Myanmar," said Abdul Jabbar Sikder, director-general of the DLS.
All the ministries concerned and the Border Guard of Bangladesh were working on preventing the entry of animals in the lead-up to Eid.
He is confident there would be no shortage of cattle this year given that 12 lakh animals were surplus last year.
All credit for self-sufficiency goes to entrepreneurs and the DLS, said AKM Ataur Rahman, a former livestock economist at the department, adding that at least Tk 10,000 crore has been invested in the sector in the past decade.
"A revolution has taken place in cattle farming in the last few years," said Khorshed Alom Khokon, managing director of Sirajganj Dairy Farm.
Many educated unemployed youths started farming for dairy and meat to become self-reliant, he added.
However, this Eid, sales would be less than in previous years given the pandemic and its economic repercussions and the ongoing floods in different parts of the country, Rahman said.
"My assumption is the figure will come down to less than one crore this year," he added.
Demand has dropped for the pandemic and this has subsequently affected the prices, Khokon said.
Were it not for the online markets, the situation might be worse. For instance, one Pabna-based farmer said he has already sold 54 of his bovines at a profitable margin through the internet.