Last Qurbani, aged 2 years and 10 months, he weighed in at 39 maunds (1 maund = 40 kg in Bangladesh) and though he made an appearance at Gabtoli, his owner Khannu Mia balked at the Tk 1.4 million (14 lakh) price punters bid for Raja Babu - meaning though he managed to wow the crowds, he failed to be crowned the King of the hat, or the one that fetches the highest selling price.
Instead, Khannu Mia decided to take his Prize Bull – of the famed Holstein Friesian, more commonly referred to here as “Australian”, breed - back home to Manikganj, and try his luck again in a year.
In that year, through the undying attention of Khannu Mia and his family consisting of wife Parishkar Begum and daughter Eiti Akhter, Raja Babu has added on a third in weight. He now tips the scales at an eye-watering 2094 kg (52 maunds, over 2 tonnes!), stands 6 feet 6 inches tall, stretches 8 feet long front-to-back, with a tail length 4 feet 3 inches and - importantly for Qurbani buyers - 6 teeth.
Speculation is rife that this year, there is no standing between Raja Babu (‘He just looked like a King’, explains Eiti, who passed her SSC in 2017 and has undergone training at Savar’s Sheikh Hasina Youth Development Centre on rearing cattle and fowl) and the nationwide crown.
His asking price, as set by Khunnu Mia: a cool Tk 2.2 million (22 lakh).
“I bought the then 18-maund Holstein Friesian bull from Keraniganj in Dhaka two years ago for Tk 4.80 lakh,” says Khannu Mia, a resident of Delua village of Saturia Upazila in Manikganj, adding that: “I was offered Tk 14 lakh for him last Eid-ul-Azha, but held out hoping for better price.”
Khannu’s daily expenses behind Raja Babu run up to Tk2,000. Nurtured in accordance with the local technique, Raja Babu eats grass, wheat, hay, maize, paddy, chira, molasses and also fruits including bananas, malta, orange, guava, he added.
Rearing such a big bull poses all kinds of challenges. Raja Babu is bathed four or five times a day, says Parishkar Begum. An electric fan must run all times to keep him cool. In the absence of electricity, they must get to work with hand fans, she adds.
Saturia Animal Resources Officer Dr. Khorshed Alam, who confirmed all of Raja Babu’s measurements, also affirmed the difficulties. His office is regularly keeping tabs on Raja’s health and providing needful medicines to prevent worms, for example.
“It is the biggest bull in the country,” Dr. Khorshed Alam proclaimed to UNB.
Any chance Khunnu Mia may come off the steep asking price?
“If somebody buys directly from my farm, I might just settle for a little less than 22 lakh,” says the man himself.
In fact, visitors from different parts of the country including Dhaka have been milling about Khannu’s farm to see Raja firsthand. Some expressed their sheer amazement at the size of the Prize Bull, while others were interested to learn about rearing methods for big cows.
As a result, police patrols have been extended around the premises, to ensure everyone’s safety, most importantly, Raja Babu’s.