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6.1 Organization

Research on sheep and wool is the responsibility of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and its constituent institutes. the Central Sheep & Wool Research Institute (CSWRI), Avikanagar (Rajasthan); the Central Institute for Research on Goats (CIRG), Makhdoom (Uttar Pradesh); and to some extent the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar (Uttar Pradesh) and the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal (Haryana); State agricultural universities also carry responsibility in this field. It is planned to set up a bureau of animal genetic resources in the near future. The ICAR has also organized research on sheep and goat production through an All-India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) involving a number of central and State organizations (ICAR institutes, agricultural universities, State departments, etc.). These projects cover sheep-breeding for fine wool, for mutton and for superior carpet-wool, and goat-breeding for Chevon, for milk and for mohair and pashmina. Most of the important sheep-and goat-rearing States have been covered under these projects. In addition, ICAR funds research projects from the Agricultural Produce Cess Fund.

The development aspect is entrusted to the central Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which primarily provides guidelines in programme planning and organizes the import of exotic animals and other biological products not available in the country. There is a Central Sheep Development Council, including representatives of the sheepbreeders, the woollen industry, research agencies and other ministries concerned. The central Ministry of Agriculture, in consultation with experts from all over the country, prepares an overall development plan for each Five-Year Plan, and after its approval makes it available to the State governments for implementation. The State Animal Husbandry/ Sheep and Wool Departments are responsible for development programmes in their respective States; they maintain large exotic and native farms for the production of rams and are equipped to provide health protection and advice on improved management practices. Some also organize the marketing of wool and live animals. Most of the sheep development activity is now organized through intensive sheep development projects and sheep and wool extension centres. To a limited extent, under the Drought-Prone Area Programme (DPAP), sheep-breeders' cooperative societies are organized to carry out development work.

6.2 Sheep and goat development programmes

Sheep development activity was undertaken as early as the early 19th century by the East India Company, which imported exotic breeds for cross-breeding with the indigenous breeds. Subsequently, with the establishment of the Imperial (now Indian) Council of Agricultural Research, research and development programmes were taken up on a regional basis; they included selective breeding within the indigenous breeds and cross-breeding them with exotic fine-wool breeds, and covered almost all the important sheep-rearing States. Major emphasis was however placed on sheep development after the country attained independence and initiated its Five-Year Development Plans. During the Third Plan, a large number of sheep and wool extension centres were established, and a wool grading and marketing programme was initiated in Rajasthan. In 1962, realising the importance of sheep in the agrarian economy, the central government established CSWRI and its regional stations, under an UNDP/GOI project, to undertake fundamental and applied research in sheep production and wool utilization and to provide post-graduate training in sheep and wool sciences. During the Fourth Plan, a large sheep-breeding farm was established in collaboration with the Australian Government, at Hissar, for pure-breeding Corriedale sheep. Corriedale stud rams are being distributed from this farm to a number of States for cross-breeding to improve wool and mutton production. Seven more such farms have been established in Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, to produce exotic pure-bred or cross-bred rams. During the Fifth Plan, a large number of breeding farms were planned to be established in the central and State sectors to produce genetically superior breeding stocks. It was also planned to reorganize and strengthen the existing sheep-breeding farms in the States as well as to expand and reorganize sheep and wool extension centres, and to set up scientific sheepshearing and wool-grading programmes. A number of sheep development programmes were undertaken under specialized programmes, such as DPAP, small-farmer (SF), marginal-farmer (MF) and agricultural labourer schemes. Setting up of wool boards in important woolproducing States was also foreseen.

The National Commission on Agriculture (NCA, 1976) reviewed the previous sheep and goat development activities and made recommendations on the approach as well as on organization with a view to implementation of various development programmes. In addition to genetic improvement, NCA laid emphasis on the provision of proper health protection, development of feed and fodder resources through silvi-pasture, and organization and extension activities for the transfer of improved sheep production technology to the farmers, and organizing the marketing of live animals and wool.

The breeding strategy is different for different regions of the country. In the north temperate and northwestern regions, it involves breeding for apparel wool through cross-breeding indigenous breeds with exotic fine-wool breeds. For the northwestern and central peninsular regions and Bihar, selection among better carpet-wool breeds and crossing extremely coarse and hairy indigenous breeds with exotic fine-wool and dual-purpose breeds to improve carpet-wool production and quality and mutton production has been recommended. For improving mutton production in the southern peninsular region, the strategy contemplates selection within better indigenous breeds such as Nellore and Mandya, and upgrading of inferior breeds with these two breeds.

So far, there has been very little systematic emphasis on goat development. Some State governments have been distributing bucks of superior indigenous breeds, mostly Jamnapari and Beetal, or stationing them in veterinary dispensaries for natural service. The Sixth Plan evvisages the establishment of large goat-breeding farms for the production of studs of important breeds as well as breeding bucks of exotic dairy breeds to be used for cross-breeding for improving milk production. There is some emphasis on improving pashmina production in the Ladakh area of Jammu & Kashmir, whose government has a pashmina goat farm for the production of studs.

6.3 Research programmes in sheep and goat production

The results of research in sheep-breeding were recently reviewed by Acharya (1978) in a discussion paper on breeding strategy for sheep in India. In addition to reviewing the performance of important pure-bred native breeds with respect to body weight, wool production and quality, lamb and adult survival, reproductive performance, etc., the author reviewed the effect of non-genetic and genetic factors on these traits, estimates of genetic and phenotypic parameters and the results of selection and cross-breeding experiments. Through selection within indigenous breeds (Deccani: Khot et al., 1962; Amble et al., 1967; Bikaneri & Lohi: Nanda & Singh, 1948; Khot et al., 1962; Patanwadi: AHD Gujarat, 1968; Bellary: Dass & Rajagopalan, 1955), an improvement in fleece quality has been reflected by a decrease in the percentage of medullated fibres and average fibre diameter, but in some cases a decline in fleece weight and reproductive performance was reported.

Body weight at six months is the genetic and phenotypic parameter which should be utilized in work on improving market weight and ewe productivity (Acharya, 1974), while an index combining greasy fleece weight and medullation percentage (weighed negatively) should be used as a reference for improving wool production and quality in carpet-wool breeds.

Cross-breeding among indigenous breeds has been extensive in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh for improving wool production and quality and, to some extent, for improving mutton production. Most of the wool breeds involved were from Rajasthan (Bikaneri, Magra and Nali). This programme was not fully successful in the southern States, since the Bikaneri rams did not survive long, presumably because, except in Uttar Pradesh, they adapted poorly to the hot humid climate. There was however an improvement in wool production and quality, reflected in an increase in staple length and a decrease in medullation percentage and average fibre diameter.

Cross-breeding work carried out in the country in general indicated the superiority in body weight, greasy fleece weight and fleece quality of half-breds over the indigenous pure-breds involved in crosses, except for Polwarth crosses with Rampur Bushair in Uttar Pradesh. The survival of half-breds was similar to that of indigenous breeds involved in the crosses, but crosses containing higher exotic inheritance did show problems of survival. Rambouillet appeared to be superior to other exotic breeds in cross-breeding experiments. When more than one indigenous breed was used with the same exotic breed, carpet-wool breeds - particularly Magra (Bikaneri) - showed superiority.

Sheep-breeding work under AICRP for fine wool, involving exotic fine-wool breeds (Soviet Merino and Rambouillet) and indigenous breeds (Gaddi, Nali, Chokla, Patanwadi, Nilgiri and Bonpala), yielded improvement in greasy wool production and fleece quality in the half-breds over the native breeds involved in crosses, but the improvement in greasy wool production was minimal where the native breed was already producing relatively high quantities of fleece (e.g. Nali and Chokla). Similarly, the improvement in fleece quality was minimal in breeds with already reasonably fine fleece, such as Nilgiri.

Cross-breeding experiments for improving mutton under AICRP involve exotic mutton breeds (Suffolk and Dorset) and indigenous breeds (Muzzafarnagri, Malpura, Sonadi, Deccani, Mandya and Nellore). The results available indicate improvements in weight gains and feed conversion efficiency under individual feed-lot conditions. Suffolk x Sonadi and Dorset x Nellore half-breds gave the best performance: the lambs attained 30 kg live weight at six months in individual feed-lot trials with ad libitum feeding of a ration consisting of 30% roughage and 70% concentrate ration from weaning (90 days) to 180 days.

At CSWRI, in a breeding experiment involving Rambouillet and three different indigenous breeds, Chokla (a superior carpet-wool breed), Jaisalmeri (a medium carpet-wool breed) and Malpura (an extremely coarse and hairy wool breed), the half-breds were substantially superior in body weight, greasy fleece production and fleece quality, but beyond 50% exotic fine-wool inheritance, there was little improvement in body weight and greasy fleece weight, though there was some further improvement in wool quality. The performance of progeny produced from inter-breeding half-breds was not much inferior to that of the first generation (F1) half-breds. The half-breds pose no more serious management and disease problems under farm conditions than do native breeds. The Chokla crosses came close to desired apparel wool, and the Jaisalmeri and Malpura crosses came closer to ideal carpet wool. The improvement in Malpura was very substantial (almost 200%) in greasy wool production and in fleece quality.

More recently, research has been undertaken at CSWRI for breeding sheep for pelt, and Karakul is being crossed with indigenous extremely coarse carpet-wool breeds. The results achieved have been very encouraging.

Like development, research for improving goat production has been seriously lacking (AICRP, GB, 1976). Cross-breeding indigenous goats with exotic dairy goats (Alpine and Saanen) resulted in improved milk production and reproductive performance, but with a slight loss in prolificacy. Some work on improving meat production by crossing small and large indigenous breeds is in progress, but the results so far available show only limited promise. After cross-breeding indigenous goats with Angora for mohair production, it appeared that with 7/8 Angora inheritance, the crosses produce a similar quantity of relatively finer quality mohair than that of the Angora controls. Some research in improving pashmina production has also been undertaken.


1. Acharya, R.M. 1974 Evolution of native breeds of sheep for wool and mutton and scope for introduction of exotic inheritance. Indian J. of Genet. 34 A: 945. Paper presented at the 2nd General Congress of the Society for the Advancement of Breeding Research in Asia and Oceania.

2. Acharya, R.M. 1978 Breeding strategy for sheep in India. A discussion paper. Mimeographed. Central Sheep & Wool Research Institute, Avikanagar, Rajasthan.

3. AHD, Gujarat. 1968 Final report of the scheme for sheep and wool improvement on a regional basis - dry northern region - Joria. North Gujarat, Patan Dist. Mehsana. Animal Husbandry Department, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

4. AICRP, GB, Avikanagar. 1976 Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Goat-Breeding, held at NDRI, Karnal, 22–23 March 1976. Mimeographed. Central Sheep & Wool Research Institute, Avikanagar, Rajasthan.

5. Amble, V.N., Khandekar, N.C. & Garg, J.N. 1967 Statistical studies on breeding data of Deccani and cross-bred sheep. Indian J. of Vet. Sci. & Animal Husb. 37 (4): 305.

6. Dass, M.N. & Rajagopalan, V.R. 1956 Studies on the scope for improvement of Bellary sheep. Indian J. of Vet. Sci. & Animal Husb. 26: 171.

7. Khot, S.S., Mahal, G.S. & Lall, H.K. 1962 Research in animal husbandry: sheep and wool. A review of work done during 1929–54. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi.

8. Nanda, P.N. & Singh, G. 1948 Improvement of wool quality by selective breeding in Bikaneri and Lohi sheep. Indian J. of Vet. & Animal Husb. 18: 195.

9. NCA, New Delhi. 1976 Report of the National Commission on Agriculture, Part VII: Animal Husbandry. Govt. of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, New Delhi.

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1.Animal breeding: selected articles from World Animal Review, 1977 (C* E* F* S*)
2Eradication of hog cholera and African swine fever, 1976 (E* F* S8)
3Insecticides and application equipment for tsetse control, 1977 (E*F*)
4New feed resources, 1977 (E/F/S*)
5Bibliography of the criollo cattle of the Americas, 1977 (Bi.E/S*)
6Mediterranean cattle and sheep in crossbreeding, 1977 (E* F*)
7Environmental impact of tsetse chemical control, 1977 (E* F*)
7Rev. Environmental impact of tsetse chemical control, 1980 (E*)
8Declining breeds of Mediterranean sheep, 1978 (E* F*)
9Slaughterhouse and slaughterslab design and construction, 1978 (E* F* S*)
10Treating straw for animal feeding, 1978 (C* E* F* S*)
11Packaging, storage and distribution of processed milk, 1978 (E*)
12Ruminant nutrition: selected articles from World Animal Review, 1978 (C* E* F* S*)
13Buffalo reproduction and artificial insemination, 1979 (E***)
14The African trypanosomiases, 1979 (E* F*)
15Establishment of dairy training centres, 1979 (E*)
16Open yard housing for young cattle, 1981 (E* F* S*)
17Prolific tropical sheep, 1980 (E*)
18Feed from animal wastes: state of knowledge, 1980 (E*)
19East Coast fever and related tick-borne diseases, 1980 (E*)
20/1Trypanotolerant livestock in West and Central Africa, 1980 (E* F*)
Vol.1 - General study
20/2Trypanotolerant livestock in West and Central Africa, 1980 (E* F*)
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21Guideline for dairy accounting, 1980 (E*)
22Recursos genéticos animales en América Latina, 1981 (S*)
23Disease control in semen and embryos (E* F* S*)
24Animal genetic resources - conservation and management, 1981 (E*)
25Reproductive efficiency in cattle, 1982 (E*)
26Camels and camel milk, 1982 (E*)
27Deer farming, 1982 (E*)
28Feed from animal wastes: feeding manual, 1982 (E*)
29Echinococcosis/hydatidosis surveillance, prevention and control: fao/unep/who guidelines, 1982 (E*)
30Sheep and goat breeds of India, 1982 (E*)
31Hormones in animal production, 1982 (E*)
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