Small ruminants, viz. sheep and goat, are numerically important domesticated animals in arid and semi-arid regions of Asia. They are primarily raised in a traditional manner and there is little organized effort for their improvement. They contribute meat, milk, skin, fibre and manure and are the sole or subsidiary source of livelihood for a large number of small and marginal fanners and landless labourers. They are also sacrificial animals. The Shaivites among Hindus prefer goat and Muslims prefer sheep. This is also reflected in the predominance of sheep in Middle East and the goat in the Indian sub-continent. Sheep and goats are important sources of export earnings especially through skins and hand-knotted carpets. This region can play an important role in meeting the world's increased demand for carpet wool. Ropes, bags and tents from goat hair also constitute important export items.
Sheep and goat rearing continues to be backward, since it is primarily in the hands of poor, landless or small and marginal fanners who raise their animals on natural vegetation and stubbles supplemented by tree loppings. The population of these species has increased and large areas earlier available for livestock grazing have now been put under crops. As a result the density of livestock per unit grazing area has greatly increased. This has resulted in further reduction in grazing potential through replacement of more nutritious perennial grasses and legumes by grasses of poor quality and mostly annual in nature. Because of the non-availability of grazing land in their home tract, sheep and goat owners practice migration over extensive areas.
Sheep and goats breed throughout the year. There is usually no control on the breeding season except occasionally when one is eager to ensure that offspring are born during the favourable season.
The productivity of these species in this area is relatively lower than that in temperate countries, but considering the nutritional and physical environmental conditions under which they are reared, it cannot be considered inefficient. Major reasons for the low productivity are inadequate grazing resources, tropical heat, disease problems and serious lack of organized effort for genetic improvement. There is little selection of rams and bucks and considerable interbreeding takes place among neighbouring breeds.
Economics of sheep and goat and their role in desertification
Under natural grazing/browsing the goat is more economical than cattle and sheep (Acharya and Patnayak, 1974; Knoss, 1969; Abidi, 1970; Wahid, 1975). When kept on free range grazing/browsing on highly degraded grazing land in semi-arid ecology, indigenous goats were 2.5times more economical than indigenous sheep (Swain, 1984).
Indian Council of Agricultural Research,
New Delhi, India
The two species have generally been understood to be associated with desertification. However, it is human interference especially through felling of trees, excessive lopping of trees and over-grazing of the natural range land by livestock, coupled with changes in the physical environment which have resulted in desertification. Sheep, because of it's close grazing nature is more responsible for soil erosion. The studies carried out at the Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (CSWRI), Avikanagar, India, indicated that sheep had a greater role in desertification through the removal of surface vegetation. The superior contribution of goats relative to other species of domestic livestock in this ecology is possible because of their higher reproductive rate, higher digestive efficiency of cellulose and inquisitive behaviour.
Sheep and goats because of their small size and higher reproductive rate, are preferred to large ruminants in arid and semi-arid regions. Furthermore these require a relatively smaller investment and can be managed by sparse family labour. There is large variability among and within the different breeds which will allow improvement through selection and grading.
Except in India the majority of sheep breeds in this region are fat-tailed or fat-rumped. Deposition of fat in some parts of the body is a feature of areas where nutritional availability is highly seasonal. The fat deposited during the period when abundance of grazing is available is mobilized and utilized for maintaining the body and sustaining production during periods of scarcity.
Of the total land of the world (13,077 m hectares) only 10.5% is arable and the rest in under pastures, forests, waste lands etc. The Asian region has 20.5% of the total and 31.0% of the arable land. The Asian countries with arid and semi-arid areas have 15.1% of the total land and 25.1% of the arable land. This region contains 31.3% of the total livestock population, 27.0% of the sheep population and 49.0% of the goat population of the world. This indicates that both the total livestock density per unit non-arable area as well as density of sheep and goat per unit non-arable area is higher in this region than the average of the world (FAO, 1983).
Among the countries in the region, China has the largest sheep population which comprises 9.4% of the world sheep population and 32.0% of Asia's sheep population. This is followed by Turkey, India and Iran. India has the largest goat population and accounts for 16.4% of the goat population of the world and 29.3% of Asia. This is followed by China, Pakistan and Turkey.
Production and population trends
The sheep contribute largest to the total meat production in Kuwait followed by those in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. On the contrary, goats make the largest contribution to the total meat production in India followed by Pakistan. Milk from sheep is important in Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey. Goat milk is important in Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen AR and Yemen DEM. Among all the countries in the region with more than 10 m sheep or goat population, Pakistan has shown the highest increase in sheep from 1974–76 to 1983, followed by Turkey and China. Pakistan also showed the highest increase in goats followed by China and India, (FAO, 1983).
India: Studies carried out in India indicate that in Rajasthan 0.5m sheep are on permanent migration following established migratory routes and seasons are not brought to their homestead at any time of the year. About 1.0m from western districts of Rajasthan migrate for 6 to 9 months to the neighbouring states. Most flocks begin migration between October and February and follow set migratory routes and return by May to June or before the onset of the monsoon. Goat flocks are normally non-migratory except where they form part of mixed sheep and goat flocks. The sheep and goat flocks are grazed/browsed on uncultivated land during the monsoon, later, after the kharif crops are harvested, the animals are grazed on crop stubbles. During the later part of the year, beginning in September/ October, most non-migratory flocks graze on the harvested fields and reserve forests in their migratory tracts. During the extreme summer months, the flocks graze during the cooler hours of the day. Goats are maintained on natural vegetation and tree loppings. Only lactating animals are given supplementary feed in the form of conserved hay, dried tree leaves and in some cases concentrates (about 200 g). Drinking water is usually scarce and in some cases highly brackish and the animals travel long distances in search of water.
About 60% of the flocks are penned in open fields away from the house, the rest are penned in temporary courtyards made out of thorny bushes or earth near the house.
Although breeding takes place throughout the year, most breeding is linked with highly seasonal availability of grazing resources. The rams and bucks stay with the flock throughout the year, but sheep flock owners, especially in Rajasthan and Gujarat tie the prepuce with a cotton tape so as to avoid matings during undesirable seasons. Most sheep breeding takes place in July–August i.e. immediately after the onset of the monsoon and some of it in March–April, when stubble grazing and Acacia and Propopis pods are available to the animals. Goat breeding also takes place throughout the year, but peak breeding season is August–September. Age at first mating both in sheep and goat is around 1| years. Sheep generally lamb only once in a year but in goats rebreeding occurs and three kiddings in two years are not uncommon. Kids and lambs are not generally weaned. However, the kids are kept separate from does during the day.
Most stationary and migratory flocks are shorn twice a year (March–April and July–September). About 56% of flocks in southern districts of Rajasthan are however, shorn thrice a year.
Health care is given little attention and the sick animals are generally treated using indigenous medicines. Most mortality is due to liver-fluke infestation; other causes being enterotoxaemia, foot and mouth disease and anthrax. Sheep pox also results in serious mortality although outbreak occurs only every 3–4 years.
Approximately 75–80% sheep population of Afghanistan are kept in transhumant flocks and the remaining 20–25% are stationary. Nutrition of sheep in transhumant flocks is almost entirely dependent on natural pastures throughout the year. Stationary flocks on the other hand are kept at or close to the village and in addition to natural pastures have access to cereal stubbles and limited amounts of straw and hay. The feeding of grain to sheep is practiced on an extremely limited scale.
Mating takes place between the middle of September and the end of October. The nutrition of the ewe before and during mating is almost completely dependent on natural grazing, the quality of which is poor at that time. In some flocks, rams are given small amounts of concentrates during mating season. Age at first mating is 18 months both for male and female. Ewes are kept for reproduction up to 7–8 years of age but rams are culled at 5–6 years of age. Lambs are weaned at 1 /1/2J to 2 months of age. After weaning, ewes are milked for 2–3 months. Surplus lambs are usually marketed at about 7–10 months of age. In Karakul, 95% of male lambs are killed for pelt within 24 hours of birth. In the majority of flocks, sheep are shorn twice a year (May and September). Tribal flocks are always kept under open conditions throughout the year. During adverse winters, heavy rains and snow fall, simple enclosures and large tents are used as shelter. For stationary flocks, simple sheds adjoining the houses or large common sheds belonging to 2–3 owners are available for protection against climatic factors and predatory animals during winter.
Iran: Sheep flocks in Iran are mainly maintained on poor range land, bushes and stubbles. This is particularly true of the transhumant flocks which form about 60 to 70% of the total sheep population of the country. These flocks migrate long distances following the seasonal grass growth. The remaining 30 to 40% of the sheep population are in stationary flocks and are maintained on grazing lands surrounding the villages. In spite of their poor quality, the range lands provide maintenance requirements and in some regions part of the production requirements. Sheep often undergo critical feed shortages during the cold and snowy winters, causing high death rates, poor lamb crops and lowered overall production.
Mating usually takes place in September and October, over a period varying from 35 to 40 days. There is some evidence that some Iranian sheep breeds have fairly long breeding seasons permitting more than one lambing a year. Indeed, some flock owners keep their rams in the flock for 7 to 8 months in favourable years, in an attempt to increase annual lamb production. Usually ewes do not receive any supplementary feeding before or during the mating season and depend on grazing alone.
Lambs are weaned at 2–3 months of age and ewes are milked for 2–3 months after weaning. Sheep are shorn twice a year in most flocks (May/June and September/October).
Turkey: In the arid and semi-arid region of Turkey, nutrition of sheep during the grazing season, which lasts from the end of April to the end of November, depends almost completely on grazing of poor quality pastures and stubbles. Sheep are housed in simple sheep sheds during winter and fed on straw while a few owners feed their sheep some hay and about 100 to 200 g of barley per head towards the end of pregnancy and during early lactation. Lambing takes place in March–April. Lambs suckle their mothers twice a day during the first month of life and for another month they go to pasture with their mothers. Lambs are weaned at about 2 months of age, after which the ewes are milked for 2–3 months.
Sheep are kept in individual or communal flocks. In the majority of flocks, sheep are shorn once a year between the middle of May and end of June, depending on the area and weather conditions. In breeds like Awassi, Karayaka, Imroz and Tuj, however, shearing twice a year is quite a common practice.
Although most of the flocks in Turkey are stationary, transhumant and nomadic flocks also exist.
GENETIC RESOURCES OF SHEEP AND GOAT
The region is endowed with a large number of sheep and goat breeds; e.g. in India alone, there are 40 breeds of sheep and 20 breeds of goat.
India : The arid and semi-arid region in India is the home tract of the most important carpet wool breeds and dairy and meat goat breeds. The southern penninsular region has mostly hairy sheep breeds, which produce extremely coarse hairy and coloured fleeces or no fleece at all. The pre-dominant breeds of sheep in the two regions are Marwari and Deccani/ Bellary, respectively. The breeds of sheep and goat in India and their performance have been described by Acharya (1982).
Afghanistan: In Afghanistan, of the 8 breeds, 6 are fat-tailed and 2 are fat-rumped. The Karakul is the most predominant breed and is maintained for lamb pelt production. Vatani and Asmari are the important breeds of goat of Afghanistan and produce fibre from the undercoat.
Iraq: Iraq has 6 breeds of sheep of which the Awassi is the most important. The number of sheep per capita (1.0) is the highest in the mid-east area. Iraqi and Kurdi are the important goat breeds.
Iran: Iran has 15 breeds of sheep of which Baluchi has the largest contribution. With the exception of Karakul all the breeds are multipurpose and are used for meat, milk and carpet wool. Morghose and Raini are the important goat breeds.
Turkey: Of the 11 sheep breeds, 5 are fat-tailed, 4 are thin-tailed and one semi-fat-tailed and one is fat-rumped. Of these breeds, White Karaman, Red Karaman and Daglic comprise of the major proportion of the population. Turkey has 6 goat breeds. The Angora account for about 25% of the goats in the country. The other hairy breeds are Anatolia black and kilis.
China : 16 breeds of sheep have been described of which a large proportion are of carpet wool type. There are 6 goat breeds in China. South China and Ma T'ou breeds produce chevon whereas Cashmere goat gives goat fibre cashmere.
Pakistan: Pakistan has 15 breeds of sheep mostly maintained for carpet wool, mutton and milk. There are 14 breeds of goat maintained for meat and milk.
FEED AND FODDER RESOURCES AND THEIR NUTRITIVE VALUE
For most of the region, the climate is characterised by long dry summers which are very hot with mean temperature rising several degrees above mammalian body temperature. In many countries of the region high summer temperatures alternate with very low winter temperatures. Due to erratic rains and the nature of the soils of the region which are light textured, deficient in organic content and have a tendency to salinization, the natural potential of range and pasture land falls far short of the feeding and nutritional requirements of the animals. There is a marked fluctuation in feed availability and it's nutritional value among different regions and among years and seasons. Sheep and goats in the region depend on meagre range and natural pastures and crop residues of relatively small tracts of irrigated lands. The natural range/common grazing lands have in general been over-exploited and have been subjected to serious problems of wind and water erosion. These are dominated by extremely poor and generally annual grasses and shrubby vegetation. The important annual and perennial grasses of arid and semi-arid areas together with their proximate composition are given by Ranjan (1980).
Although tree leaves are classed as emergency fodder for livestock in general, they form an integral part of feed for sheep and goats in arid and semi-arid regions. About 60% of the total feed available to sheep and goats comes from top feeds only. The fodder trees serve as a potential source of feed during December to June when the grazing material becomes scarce and it's nutritive value low. Goats spend more than 90% of their time on browsing and only graze for 10% of the time on surface vegetation and that too only when sufficient browse/top feed is not available. Systematic research work on evaluating feeding value of browse/top feeds for livestock was first initiated by Kehr and his associates at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar in 1940. Singh (1981) has given the proximate composition and nutritive values of tree leaves for feeding to goats. The dry matter content varied from 20 to 40%. Most of the tree leaves contained about 12 to 15% crude protein, (dry matter basis). The crude fibre varies greatly. Although the tree leaves contain comparatively lower percentage of crude fibre than grasses and hays, their fibre is complex and highly lignified at the mature stage. While the crude protein content decreases, the crude fibre content increases with the increase in the age of tree leaves. High calcium content in tree leaves, 2–3 times more than in the cultivated fodders and grasses, is a unique feature. The phosphorus content is low. The dry matter consumption by sheep and goats from different top feeds is quite satisfactory as they have been found eating, on an average, 3.3kg per 100 kg body weight as against 2 to 2.5kg from most of the annual and perennial grasses. The disgestibility of various nutrients in tree leaves is very variable. The digestibility of the crude protein fraction varies from 30 to 80%. Tannic acid in tree leaves is a limiting factor for proper utilization of protein and carbohydrates by ruminants as it adversely affects the digestibility of dry matter and utilization of nutrients. Lohan et al., (1980) have reported inverse relationship between tannin content and crude protein digestibility. The palatability, digestibility and nutritive value of tree leaves decrease with the advance in maturity and are usually higher in goats than in sheep (Borra, 1980). The poor digestibility of crude fibre and crude protein content may also be attributed to higher lignin content in tree leaves which increases with the maturity of the leaves.
SHEEP AND GOAT DISEASES
Sheep and goats suffer from a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases. The former two are responsible for mortality while the latter produce extensive morbidity resulting in large losses in production. Both internal and external parasites result in large economic losses through morbidity and lowered production. Although effective drugs against internal parasites are available, their cost and possibility of reinfestation do not permit their effective control. Ecto-parasitic infestations are more easily controlled because effective drugs are available.
Important bacterial diseases in sheep are enterotoxaemia, pneumonia and pasturellosis. Johne's disease, lamb dystentry and brucellosis though having low incidence are becoming important. Pneumonia causes major mortality in young lambs in addition to gastro-enteritis and both have multetiology. Management plays an important role in their incidence. Important viral diseases are sheep and goat pox, ecthyma and pustular dermatitis. Rinderpest in sheep and goats occur rarely but results in heavy mortality. Blue tongue has emerged more recently and is resulting in serious problems.
RESULTS OF RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING SHEEP AND GOAT PRODUCTION
India - Sheep Breeding
Acharya (1981) reviewed the purebred performance of different breeds of sheep in India with respect to body weight, meat production, reproduction, mortality and greasy wool production and quality. In the North-western region the breeds can be grouped into three types based on their fleece quality viz. the fine carpet wool/medium apparel type - Chokla; medium to good carpet wool type - Marwari, Jaisalmeri, Magra, Pugal and Nali; and extremely coarse hairy type - Malpura and Sonadi. Of these breeds the Marwari has the largest population and is distributed over the largest area. In the Southern penninsular region, the breeds can be grouped into two types (i) hairy - Deccani/Bellari, Mandya, Coimbatore, Tiruchy Black and (ii) non-hairy mutton type - all breeds except Nilgiris which produce good apparel wool. Of the breeds of North-western region, the Magra has the best performance and can be used as an improver breed for improving carpet wool production and quality in coarse and hairy wool breeds. In Southern penninsular region, Bellore the tallest breed has been used as an improver breed for improving mutton production in non-woolly sheep.
Genetic and phenotypic parameters related to growth characteristics have been obtained in a number of breeds. The pooled estimates over the breeds obtained by weighing each estimate by inverse of variance were presented by Acharya (1981). Considering the estimates of heritability and of genetic and. phenotypic correlation among body weights at different ages, selection based on six months body weight will improve the market weight, the yearling body weight and ewe productivity.
Estimates of genetic and phenotypic parameters of fleece characteristics available in Indian literature on different breeds were also summarised by Acharya (1981).Considering these estimates on face value, it will be desirable to combine greasy fleece weight and average fibre diameter into an index for improving wool production and reducing average fibre diameter and medullation percentage. Malik and Acharya (1972) reported heritability estimates of survivability from 0–14 days and from 15 days to weaning (90 days) in a mixed population as 0.05 and 0.26 respectively. Lamb weight at birth had a significant influence on survival from 0 to 14 days. In addition to birth weight, ewe weight at lambing and year significantly influenced survival from 15 to 90 days.
Selection for Wool Production and Quality: Acharya (1974, 1978) reviewed the results of earlier selection experiments. Selection within indigenous breeds against medullation percentage did, in general show a significant reduction in medullation percentage and correlated decrease in average fibre diameter and decline in body size and fertility. This, however, does not necessarily reflect negative genetic relationship of body size and fertility with medullation percentage as the effective population size in most of these experiments was small.
Grading for Improving Carpet Wool Production : Grading up of coarse hairy breeds like Bellary with Bikaneri (Magra) has imporved greasy wool production and wool quality as indicated by a decline in medullation percentage and fibre diameter (Das and Rajagopalan, 1956). Crossing of the North Indian carpet wool breeds with South Indian mutton breeds (Nellore, Mandya) did not show any improvement in body weight gain, efficiency of feed conversion or dressing percentage (Balaine et al., 1971).
Crossbreeding for Improving Fine Wool Carpet Wool/Mutton production : Results of crossbreeding experiments have been analysed by a large number of researchers and reviewed more recently by Acharya (1974, 1978) and Acharya and Bhat (1984). Most of the earlier crossbreeding experiments suffered from a number of limitations especially in respect of the number of exotic rams and indigenous ewes, non-contemporarity of genetic groups, lack of proper recording of observations, little or no adjustment for various non-genetic factors and differences in genetic merit of sires of different breeds.
Crossbreeding for Carpet Wool: A critical apparaisal of the Indian and crossbred wool for its fibre and yarn quality and properties of carpets with respect to resiliecy and recovery after compression shows that among native wools Chokla had the overall best performance for the functional characteristics of carpets followed very closely by Magra and in descending order by Jaisalmeri, Malpura, Nali and Sonadi. The Avikalin, a new superior carpet wool strain evolved at CSWRI, Avikanagar, was not only superior in fibre and yarn properties but gave the best overall performance in carpets made out of this wool. The results of a crossbreeding experiment conducted at CSWRI from 1964 to 1975 and of the AICRP on Sheep Breeding involving crossing of exotic fine wool breed viz. Rambouillet and Merino with coarse carpet wool breeds, viz. Malpura and Deccani, indicate the improvement in wool production and quality towards superior carpet wool.
Crossbreeding for Mutton Production : Avora (1983) recently compiled the results of the AICRP on breed and crossbred evaluation for mutton characteristics. There was substantial improvement in crossbreds for weaning weight, feedlot gain, food intake and efficiency. Suffolk crosses were superior to Dorset crosses and Sonadi crosses to Malpura crosses. Investigation into effectiveness of Suffolk and Dorset as male and Malpura and Sonadi as female parents in crosses, for meat production was carried out at CSWRI. Sonadi, Maloura and crossbreds formed 3 distinct clusters. Inter-cluster distances indicated that the halfbreds were closer to Malpura than Sonadi (Bohra, 1984).
Crossbreeding for Pelt Production: Acharya et al., (1980) reported on the performance of karakul sheep and its crosses with Indian coarse carpet wool breed for lamb pelt production under hot-arid and cold-arid ecologies of India. The performance of Karakul with respect to growth, survivability, greasy fleece production, reproductive performance and pelt quality was highly satisfactory. The crosses of Karakul with coarse carpet wool breeds showed a large improvement in pelt quality over the natives, where a large number of pelts did not fall in any distinct type. There appears to be a great possibility of developing Indian pelt sheep through grading.
India - Goat Breeding
Acharya et al.,(1982) reviewed the research done on the genetic aspects of goat production in India. Jamunapari and Beetal could be considered as possible improver breeds for increasing size and milk production. Beetal can be a good or even better choice if the difficulties of adaptation of Janunapari outside its own tract and prolificacy are considered. On the basis of purebred performance the Beetal can be considered the best dairy breed followed by Jamunapari, Jhakrana, Barbari, Marwari and Sirohi.
Efficiency of feed conversion in goats in general, is poor when kept in individual pens. However, when allowed free range grazing, with ad lib. or restricted supplementation on green fodder and concentrates the performance was extremely good. Studies at CSWRI indicated that body weight at six months for Beetal and Sirohi crosses was 26 kg with an average daily gain of 150 g. The dressing percentage on liveweight basis of animals slaughtered between 5 and 18 months of age was 42.7 and 49.9. Animals slaughtered at five months of age, in general, had highest dressing percentage.
Estimates of heritability and of genetic and phenotypic correlations among body weights at different ages are given by Acharya et al., (1982). Heritability for weight at birth was low and increased to 0.30f0.07 for 12-month bodyweight. Studies on genetic aspects of growth, efficiency of feed conversion and carcass yield and quality needs to be undertaken on a larger number of animals within each important breed and in a more systematic manner.
Estimates of genetic and phenotypic parameters for different lactational characteristics have been obtained for Beetal goats (Singh and Acharya, 1982). Heritability of lactation yield for Beetal in different lactations ranged from 0.16±0.17 to 0.32±0.12 being the highest for the third lactation (Prakash et al., 1971). The first lactation yield also shows high and positive genetic and phenotypic correlation with lifetime production.
Selection for Milk Production : Considering the estimates of genetic and phenotypic parameters Singh et al., (1970) suggested than an Index combining age at first kidding and first lactation yield would be the most efficient index in making rapid genetic progress in the first lactation milk yield and age at first kidding.
Crossbreeding for Milk Production : Crossbreeding among indigenous breeds specially Jamunapari, Beetal, Barbari, Black Bengal and Sirohi reflected the usefulness of Jamunapari and Beetal as improver breeds for body size, body weight and milk production in small sized breeds.
Crosses of indigenous breeds with exotic dairy breeds (viz., Alpine, and Sannen) showed substantial improvement in Beetal and Malabari halfbreds (Acharya et al., 1982; Mishra and Khan, 1985). Milk production and lactation length improved greatly in both Alpine and Sannen halfbreds. Sannen halfbreds were superior to Alpine halfbreds. 3/4 Sannen with Beetal were superior to 1/2 Sannen × Beetal. However, 3/4 exotics involving both Sannen and Alpine did not show much further improvement over Sannen or Alpine halfbreds. The crosses of Beetal with Alpine and Sannen showed marginal differences from Beetal in age at first kidding, kidding interval and service period.
Crossbreeding for Chevon Production : The wide range of variability in body weights and reproduction can be effectively utilized for improving meat production through cross-breeding/grading. Crosses of Beetal × Jamunapari and Barbari × Jamunapari were inferior to Jamunapari. The Barbari × Beetal crosses were, however, superior to Jamunapari × Beetal. The magnitude of improvement was 18.4% in carcass weight, 7.9% in dressing percentage and 17.8% in bone content over pure bred Beetal. The Beetal x. Barbari crosses, were superior to Jamunapari × Beetal and Barbari × Beetal. The magnitude of improvement in Beetal × Barbari was 33.1% in carcass weight, 2.5% in dressing percentage and 15.7% in bone content over purebred Barbari.
The Beetal x Sirohi crossbreds were superior to Sirohi and the magnitude of improvement in carcass weight and dressing percentage was 13.0and 1.4%, respectively, over purebred Sirohi. The results of indigenous crosses reveal specific combining ability of various indigenous breeds. Jamunapari the largest among Indian breeds did not nick well with any other indigenous breed.
Fibre Production: Chegu and Changthangi purebred pashmina goats had an annual production of 132 and 214 g of Pashmina, respectively, with average fibre diameter of 12.4±0.7u. There are no Mohair goats in India. Crossing indigenous breeds, viz. Gaddi and Sanganmeri, with Angora indicated that 7/8Angora corsses with Gaddi produces relatively lower quantity of finer and shorter mohair.
There is little research information concerning sheep production in Afghanistan. Studies conducted in 1950 for improving the productivity of Ghiljai, Hazargie and Gadik breeds through crossbreeding with Turkish Merino, Russian Merino and Columbia indicated improvement in crossbreds over indigenous breeds in wool yield and quality and body weights at State Farms (Demiruren, 1958). However, exotic breeds or even their crosses could not survive under poor conditions existing in the field.
The Karakul Institute of Afghanistan provides facilities for grading and marketing of pelts. The efforts made by the Institute have increased the proportion of gray pelts from 30 to 70%, and the proportion of top grade pelts from 30 to 80%.
A considerable part of research in sheep production in Iran is concerened with the evaluation of the performance of indigenous breeds and with comparing these breeds under semi-intensive and intensive conditions.
Crossbreeding among Karakul, Mehraban, Neini, Kizil and Bakhtiari breeds did not express significant positive heterosis in terms of lamb production. Crosses of Karakul, Mehraban, and Neimi with Corriedale and Targhee have shown marginal improvement in pre-weaning and feedlot gains and weights (Fraid et al., 1977). Results of crossbreeding with Ile-de-France and various types of Merino rams on the ewes of indigenous breeds have given encouraging results (Yalcin, 1979) and a new fine wool sheep Magbuillet has been evolved through crossing of Moghani ewes with Rambouillet rams. Introduction of Israeli Awassi inheritance in local Baluchi and Shal breeds has improved fleece weight and milk yield of the crosses.
Crossbreeding involving Suffolk and Targhee sheep from USA, Chios from Greece with indigenous sheep of Iran have shown little scope in using exotic sheep for the improvement of indigenous sheep because of prevailing unfavourable nutritional and management conditions and of the difficulty in natural mating between thin-tailed exotic ram and fat-tailed indigenous sheep.
Studies on the feedlot performance and carcass yield of mature Bakhtiari, Balucki, Kallakui and Kizil rams and ewes for 120 days have indicated consistent superiority of Kizil animals followed by Bakhtiari and Balucki and Kallakui in descending order (Saleh et al.,1972). The Baluchi and Kallakui differed little from each other. In carcass composition the breed differences were small and not consistent in various sex and treatment groups.
Studies on the reproductive performance, breeding season, oestrus synchronization etc., for increasing lamb production (Demiruren et al., 1971 and International Sheep and Goat Institute report, 1977) and on the effect of docking and castration on the weight and carcass growth of lamb have also been conducted (Demiruren et al.,1971).
Crossbreeding of Kivirick and White Karaman sheep with mutton Merino rams since 1930 has led to the formation of two Turkish type Merino breeds, viz., Karacabey Merino and Central Anotolian Merino respectively (Yalcin, 1979).
Results of crossbreeding White Karaman with Ile-de-France rams have shown significant improvement in F1S and F2S in body and fleece weights, milk yield and conception rate over White Karamans. Sheep having 60–70% Ile-de-France inheritance were considered feasible. Introduction of Awassi inheritance in White Karaman has significantly improved the milk production in crosses over White Karaman. Crossbreds involving Rambouillet and Daglic have shown significant improvement in growth rate in F1 and F2 lambs over either of the parent breeds. Results of another crossbreeding experiment involving Daglic, Merino and Ile-de-France sheep have shown that the Ile-de France confers considerable advantage in growth rate and carcass quality of first cross progeny.
Improvement of sheep by crossing indigenous breeds with exotic fine wool breeds has made rapid progress and with reasonably good results. Three new fine wool strains, viz., Xinjang fine wool, North east fine wool, Gansu Alpine fine wool, have been evolved. The average fleece weight of improved (crossbred) fine wool and medium fine wool sheep is two to three times heavier than that of indigenous coarse wool sheep. There is also improvement in wool quality (Cheng, 1984).
In Iraq research in sheep production is concerned with the evaluation of the performance of indigenous breeds mainly Awassi and with lamb fattening operations. Heritabilities of and genetic and phenotypic correlations among post weaning body weights and carcass traits in Awassi sheep have been estimated (Hillali,1982). Heritability of body weights at various ages varied between 0.24 and 0.64. Heritability for various carcass traits were medium to high.
Results of crossbreeding among Awassi, Karadi and Arabi sheep indicated that the crossbreds always excelled over the comparable average for purebreds except at birth and weaning. Increase in body weight due to crossbreeding was most evident at 4 and 6 weeks of age (Kazzal, 1984). Studies on selection of Awassi sheep for milk, for meat and for fibre are in progress at the Arab Centre for the Studies of Arid Zones and Drylands (ACSAD), Damascus, Syria.
Extensive studies on establishment and evaluation of pastures have been carried out at IGFRI, Central Ariz Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur (CAZRI) and CSWRI in India. The greatest limitation in the range lands and natural pastures in the arid and semi-arid areas is on the availability of adequate energy throughout the year and adequate protein for more than half of the year. These lands hardly carry one sheep when unprotected and 2 sheep/hectare when protected and there is great prospect of Improving them through reseeding with more productive and nutritious grasses and legumes. Application of 40 kg N/ha to reseeded Cenchrus pasture gave 12.8t per hectare of green forage as compared to 10.3t for control. Line sowing of pelleted seed of Cenchrus gives quickest establishment and maximum fodder yield. Intercropping of cowpea in Cenchrus pasture increased maximum fodder yield. Intercropping of cowpea in Cenchrus pasture increased the dry matter by five times during the year of establishment.
For establishing a mixed pasture of grass and legumes, the combination of Cenchrus and Dolichos sown in 1:1ratio in alternative strips of 6 to 8 rows of each was found the best. Clitoria could be introduced successfully through broadcasting. The introduction of Dolichos lablab improved the nutritive value and increased the dry matter yield from 1.0 – 1.2t to 2.5 – 3.0t per hectare. Such a grass legume pasture could carry 5 adult sheep with followers per hectare for five years.
The plantation of 50 fodder trees of Prosopis cineraria and Ailanthus excelsa per hectare has no adverse effect on the growth of pasture grasses and legumes and provides an additional yield of about 1 t dry matter when fully grown and lopped twice a year and the siIvi-pastures thus established can carry two more sheep per hectare.
Inter cropping of Dolichos with Bajra (Pennisetum typhoides) in the ratio of 2:1and row spacing of 30 cm gave highest production of both grain as well as fodder.
The indigenous lambs and kids which are not normally supplemented with concentrates or legume hay attain a body weight of 13 to 16 kg at the age of 8–9 months. The growth rate is only about 40 g in kids and 50 g in lambs, dressing percentage is about 35 and 40 and the bone:meat ratio very poor. Studies conducted at CSWRI, IVRI and centres of AICRP on Sheep and Goat Breeding in India have shown a marked improvement in the quantity and quality of mutton and chevon by supplementary feeding of both lambs and kids (Bhatia et al.,1981; Krishna Mohan et al.,1984; Singh, 1984).
The goat is primarily a browsing animal and performs well when browsed on a variety of shrubby vegetation or supplemented with concentrate mixture in addition to browsing. Mishra et al., (1980) observed that ad lib. supplementation with concentrate, hay and green fodder between 91 and 180 days of age, in addition to browsing resulted in an increase of 44.8% in liveweight and 14.3% in dressing percentage vs. browsing alone. The kids when fed the above ration ad lib. in the stalls performed in between these two systems. Thus browsing ad lib. with supplementation found to be the best method of feeding the kids for meat production. Parthasarathy et al., (1984) obtained a daily gain of 37.4, 87.4 and 73.3 g from 6 months and 62.6, 139.2 and 120.0 g from 6 to 9 months of age in Sirohi × Beetal halfbred kids maintained on browsing, browsing + 750 g/head/day concentrate and total stall feeding on 1040 g/head/day feedlot ration, respectively. The dressing percentage was 43.1,43.6 and 48.5 at 6 months and 47.3, 52.1 and 53.1 at 9 months of age under the three respective feeding systems. The kids thus showed an improvement of about 44.5 and 34.0 per cent between 3 to 6 months and about 66.1 and 52.2 per cent between 6 to 9 months respectively on browsing + supplementation and feedlot system of feeding management over the browsing alone.
A growth rate of 150 g/day was reported by Singh (1980) in Avikalin male lambs from 91 to 180 days of age on 50:50 concentrate : roughage ration fed ad lib. Post-weaning gain in Muzaffarnagari and its halfbreds with Corriedale was recorded to be 8.1and 7.2respectively from 3 to 6 months and 6.6and 5.7kg respectively from 6 to 9 months of age by Bhadula and Bhat (1981). Prasad et al., (1981) have reported a growth rate of about 150 g in Avivastra and Avikalin male weaner lambs fed on 50:50 concentrate : roughage ration. The growth rate in Mandya, Nellore and Dorset × Mandya lambs was 55, 54 and 82 g/day on 60:40 and 51,52and 127 g/day on 50:50 roughage : concentrate feedlot ration (Krishna Mohan and Charyulu, 1983). Kishore et al., (1984) recorded 205 and 207 g average daily gain in Avikalin and Dorset × Avikalin terminal cross males fed on 70:30 concentrate : roughage feedlot ration from 91 to 180 days of age. The results indicate that under intensive feeding, while the indigenous male lambs reach a body weight of 22–25 kg, the halfbreds attain around 30–32 kg at 6 months of age. The dressing percentage and bone:meat ratio are also improved significantly by intensive feeding in both indigenous and crossbreds.
Feeding standards of either the National Research Council (NRC) or Agriculture Research Council (ARC) were being used for both sheep and goats until recently, although the type of animals and their body weights, the type of feeds used, the management systems and agro-climatic conditions differ greatly from those under which these standards were developed. Parnayak (1981) and Sengar (1981) have reviewed the research conducted on nutrient requirements of sheep and goats respectively in India. Ranjhan (1980) and NRC (1981) have also published nutrient requirement tables for sheep and goats, respectively. These can be used to formulate diets for different classes and categories of sheep and goats by proper use of available feedstuffs. The tales list nutrient requirements for maintenance, growth, pregnancy and lactation.
Reproduction and Adaptation
Effects of season on semen quality of rams of indigenous and temperate breeds has been extensively studied. In rams of temperate breeds semen quality usually deteriorates from April onwards and improves from September onwards in arid and semi-arid areas (Sahni and Roy, 1972). However, if rams are properly protected from high ambient temperate and solar radiation, they will not show any serious deterioration either in libido or semen quality even during the summer and rainy months.
Female reproduction is one of the most important characters in sheep and goats as on it will depend the number of animals available for selection, culling and disposal after replacement to improve and maintain the flock size both in quality and quantity. In spite of the fact that the breeding rams and bucks are kept in the flock throughout the year (Acharya, 1982) and the incidence of oestrus is unrelated to physical environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, rainfall, hours of day light etc., and that 80 to 100 percent of animals exhibit oestrus throughout the year (Prasad, 1982) and can, therefore, be bred any time (Sahni et al., 1976), their breeding is usually restricted to nutritionally better times of the year i.e. July to August or immediately after the onset of the monsoon. A small percentage of the sheep and goats is also bred during March–April when they are stubble grazed on harvested fields and supplemented with Acacia/Prosopis pods. The growth rate and survivability of the lambs and kids dropped during December–January is poor due to feed availability on both dams and young and inclement weather during this season as compared to those dropped during August–September months. As a result of these two breeding seasons, the annual lambing/kidding percentages in indigenous sheep/goats usually range from 23.7 to 90.0 with an overall average of only 59.0both in the field and farm conditions where nutritional status of the flocks is poor either due to grazing/browsing scarcity or restricted hours of grazing. The studies conducted at CSWRI in India and at Abu Ghraib and Greater Mussabib Project in Iraq have revealed that a great improvement can be brought in the lambing/kidding rates. On free range grazing/browsing for 12 hours a day on degraded range land of semi-arid regions of Rajasthan in India the progeny born per 100 animals in the flock annually (averaged over a three year period) was 82.5 in ewes and 91.9in does. The average progeny born per lambing/kidding was 1.0in ewes and 1.09in does (Acharya et al., 1980). Under a similar study conducted in arid climatic conditions of Bikaner (CSWRI), a lambing percentage of 97.3 and kidding percentage of 89.0 was observed. In another study on sheep and goats maintained on free range grazing/browsing a lambing/kidding percentage of 106 in indigenous sheep and 153 in indigenous goats was observed. The number of progeny born per 100 animals per year was 110 and 193 respectively (Swain, 1984). It has been possible to breed Awassi ewes three times in two years and compare this with annual lambing. A difference of 58 lambs at birth in favour of three lambings in two years with no significnat effect on birth weight of lambs and dam weight at lambing was observed (Bohra, 1985).
Adaptation to High Temperature arid Solar Radiation
The Indian Sheep and their lower crosses (50 percent and below) utilize cutaneous evaporative cooling more than the respiratory as compared to the Merino and their higher crosses with the Indian breeds. The halfbreds are closer in reaction to the native than the exotics (Singh and Acharya, 1977). It has been seen at CSWRI that protection of exotic rams and ewes from high ambient temperature through provision of shade with free air movement and grazing animals during cooler hours and providing supplementary hay feeding during the night improves ram and ewe fertility and survivability.
Effect of water deprivation on heat tolerance and feed utilization has been studied on Marwari sheep at CAZRI (Taneja, 1965) and the Chokla sheep at CSWRI. The sheep can be watered on alternate days without any serious effect and rather with some improvement in nutrient digestibility and wool production (Singh, et al., 1967). In a comparative study on the effect of water deprivation, it was observed that while Marwari sheep almost ceased taking food on the third day the feed consumption in Barmer goats was reduced only by 40% even after four days of absolute water deprivation under arid climatic conditions of Jodhpur (Ghosh and Khan, 1980).
Studies conducted on genetic variation of adaptation to heat at CSWRI (Datta, 1982) have revealed that the exotic fine wool breeds arising from temperate/sub-temperate environments are less suitable to hot semi-arid zone of the country as they showed higher increases in cardinal physiological responses, greater depression in food intake per unit body weight and poor survival. On the other hand, the natives were better adapted since they exhibited smaller increase in physiological responses and had higher food and water consumption per unit body weight. Crossbreds were better suited than the exotics but were somewhat inferior to the natives in terms of thermo-adaptability. However, among the crossbreds, Avikalin (developed from Rambouillet x Malpura halfbred base through interbreeding and selection) almost behaved like natives.
In another study conducted on genetic differences in physiological responses to hot environmnet and their relationship with components of ewe productivity (Dhaliwal, 1984) it was found that the exotic breeds viz. Soviet Merinos and Rambouillets, the Rambouillet × Chokla crosses and the Rambouillet × Malpura 3/4breed breeds were adversely affected by the thermal stress both in the climatic chamber and under the summer sun. During the hot hours of the summer days, the exotics ceased grazing, consumed a lower quantity of dry matter and suffered the highest loss in body weight. The native sheep were the most heat tolerant. However, the wool type halfbred other than Rambouillet × Chokla were found nearly as hardy as the native breeds, and thus can successfully be raised under farm/shepherd conditions in the semi-arid regions of Rajasthan in India. The mutton crosses behaved like the natives under thermal stress in the chamber but were most adversely affected by the solar radiation in summer. This indicates that these animals may be raised profitably under feedlot conditions but will end in a complete failure under summer grazing conditions. For successful farming, these animals should be shifted to areas with cooler climate during summers and raised there.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SHEEP AND GOAT PRODUCTION
Improvement through Breeding
Apparel Wool Production : Most of the breeds in the region produce fleeces with high average fibre diameter and medullation percentage which are suitable for various grades of carpets. Selection against medullation results in improvement in fleece quality both in terms of reduced medullation and average fibre diameter. Selection combining first six monthly greasy fleece weight and medullation will improve both the fleece weight and fleece quality toward apparel wool. From reaearch in India on crossing exotic fine wool breeds with carpet wool types it can be recommended that such crosses should be formed followed by stabilizing exotic inheritance at 50 percent and obtaining further improvement through selection for greasy fleece weight and against medullation percentage.
Carpet woll production: Selection for first six monthly greasy fleece weight and against medullation percentage in extremely coarse and hairy breeds improves greasy wool production and quality towards better carpet wool breeds.
Improvement in fleece production and quality can be obtained slightly faster through grading extremely coarse and hairy breeds with better carpet wool breeds. Both the selection and grading will, however, be slow for bringing genetic improvement in greasy fleece production and improvement in quality towards superior carpet wool.
Crossbreeding of extremely coarse and hairy breeds with exotic fine wool breeds results in much larger improvement in greasy wool production and fleece quality. In order to improve extremely coarse and hairy breeds towards better carpet wool crossing with exotic fine wool breeds and stabilizing exotic inheritance at 50% is recommended, with further improvement through selection for greasy fleece weight.
Mutton Production : Most of the indigenous breeds have poor body weight gain and efficiency of feed conversion. Improvement through selection in these characters specially body weight gain which is highly heritable is possible. However, the gains will be slow. Selection in better meat breeds should be undertaken to improve meat production characteristics.
Crossbreeding of extremely coarse and hairy wool breeds with exotic mutton breeds such as Dorset and Suffolk provides improvement in both feedlot gain and efficiency of feed conversion. It is recommended that for improving mutton production specially under intensive feed management, crossbreeding of extremely coarse and hairy wool breeds with exotic mutton breeds, may be undertaken.
Goats for Milk : Improvement in goats for milk production can be obtained through selection for first lactation yield and age at first kidding. Crossbreeding of indigenous breeds with exotic dairy breeds such as Alpine and Sannen gave improvement ranging from 50 to 90 per cent. A sizable part of this improvement was through increased lactation length. There are no serious differences in reproductive performance of the indigenous breeds and crosses except a slight decline in multiple births. It is recommended that for bringing genetic improvement in milk production the indigenous breeds may be crossed with exotic dairy breeds like Alpine and Sannen, exotic inheritance be stabilized at 50% and further improvement be brought through selection for lactation yield.
Need for Conservation of Indigenous Breeds : In India the number of animals of Magra, Pugal and Chokla breeds of Rajasthan is declining because of insufficient attention to the development of feed and water resources in their home tracts. Mandya breed in Karnataka is also declining because most of the land in its home districts has been brought under irrigated cultivation.
In Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, the indigenous breeds are under no pressure from replacement by or crossbreeding with imported breeds. Thus no special conservation measures appear to be called for at this stage.
The important goat breeds of India whose numbers have declined seriously are the Barbari and Jamunapari. It is reported that only 5,000 animals of Jamunapari and 30,000 heads of Barbari exist at present (Acharya, 1982).
Improvement through Nutrition
Most of the range lands and common grazing lands in this region have poor vegetagion and produce only 0.5t dry fodder per hectare per year. These lands can be improved by protecting them from biotic factors, removing non-edible grasses, weeds and shrubs and reseeding with high producing and nutritious perennial grasses. This will not only improve the nutritive value of the forage but will also increase the dry matter production to about 2.2t per hectare as compared to natural range lands which hardly carry one sheep.
Plantation of 50 fodder trees per hectare maintaining row to row and plant to plant distance of 20 and 10 metres may provide an additional yield of 1 t dry matter of good quality fodder per hectare per year and thus improve the carrying capacity of 2 adult sheep. Most promising fodder tree species which do not have any adverse effect on the growth of pasture grasses and legumes and suitable for arid and semi-arid tracts are Prosopis cineraria, Acacia nilitica, Ailanthus excelsa, Leucaena, leucocephala, Azadirachta indica, Albizzia levvek, Acacia tortilis, Dichrostachys nutans and Colophospermum mopane.
Inter-cropping of Fodder Legumes in Cereal Crops
There is scope for introducing legume fodder crops in line sown cereal crops under rainfed conditions. The intercropping of Dolichos lablab in Bajra (Pennisetum typhoides) crops does not affect the grain yield of cereal adversely and gives additional yield of about 1 t of dry fodder per hectare in 3 cuttings after the harvesting of cereal crop at maturity. It is recommended to put biennial and erect type legumes between the rows of Bajra spaced at 45 cm for single crop areas with sandy soils.
The introduction of fodder legumes like Cowpea, Dolichos and Clitoria in the cereal crops of Bajra (Pennisetum typhoides), Jowar (Sorghum vulgare) and Maize (Zea mays) not only improves the yield of major crop but also provides additional nutritious fodder besides improving soil fertility through nitrogen fixation which in turn becomes available to the grain crop.
Setting up of Feed compounding Plants
It is paradoxical that on one side there fa huge shortage of feed resources for sheep and goats in the arid and semi-arid areas and on the other plenty of agro-industrial by-products, seasonal grasses and fallen tree leaves which are not being effectively utilized to the extent they can be. It is imperative that our available raw feed materials are suitably compounded to arrive at economical concentrate mixtures and feedlot rations. It is, therefore, advisable that sufficient number of feed compounding plants be set up for effective utilization of all possible agro-industrial by-products and crop residues.
A growth rate of only 50–55 g both in indigenous lambs and kids maintained on natural grazing/browsing is observed. This can be improved to 70–75 g by supplementary feeding with legume hay and to 90–100 g/day by supplementing them with 150 g concentrate mixture up to weaning and 250 g/day post-weaning. The crossbred lambs supplemented with 200 g/day concentrate mixture before weaning and with 350 g after weaning show a growth rate of about 150 g/day. The dressing percentage on liveweight basis can improve from 30–40% obtained on natural grazing to about 48–50 by the above supplementary feeding. The supplementary feeding of kids with 550 g concentrate, in addition to browsing results in an increase of 45% in pre-slaughter weight, 65% in carcass weight and 14% in dressing percentage over browsing alone. Intensive feeding on 50 concentrate:50 roughage feedlot rations from 91 to 180 days of age results in a daily liveweight gain of 130 g in indigenous and 175–200 g in crossbred lambs. The dressing percentage improves to 50–51 with marked improvement in bone:meat ratio towards more meat. The kids, however, do not perform well under total confinement and stall feeding.
Improvement through increasing Reproduction Rates
Improvement in sheep and goat production through improved reproduction is possible by reducing the age at first breeding, by increasing lambing/ kidding percentage and by inducing multiple births especially in sheep through supplementary feeding of ewes/does for flushing, during pregnancy, lactation and growth, and selection and improved management. The ewes/does under optimum feeding and management conditions can be rebred 45–75 days postpartum and can produce 3 lambs/kids (even more) in two years. The annual lambing/kidding of 59% presently observed both in sheep and goats under ths existing feeding and management conditions can be improved to 95.3 in ewes and 111.3in does resulting in an overall improvement of 61.5and 88.6% respectively on 12 hours a day effective free range grazing/browsing.
Improvement through appropriate Health Care
The annual mortality including all age groups average 20.5% and the liveweight of male lambs at marketing was, on an average, only 14.0kg in sheep flocks with serious health care. Provision of regular preventive and curative health measures resulted in reduction of mortality to 10.6% during a period of only five years. The check on morbidity resulted in an increase in liveweight of male lambs by about 2 kg at marketing. Under free range grazing/browsing on highly degraded range land with good tree canopy, the adult mortality was 16.6% in indigenous goats and nil in indigenous sheep over a period of three years. The kids had lower mortality rate at different stages of growth compared to lambs and the crossbred lambs had higher mortality than the natives. Provision of adequate health cover and management can reduce pre-weaning mortality to 5% both in indigenous and crossbred lambs- and kids. It is thus evident that 10 to 15 percent more lambs and kids of higher liveweights can be made available for meat production by providing adequate prophylactic health care, in terms of portection against sheep pox and enterotoxaemia (or preferably all clostriodal diseases using multi-component clostriodial vaccine) and internal and external parasites.
Areas of Research Needing Intensification
1. There is a need for critical evaluation and development of suitable selection criteria for improving important indigenous carpet wool and mutton breeds of sheep and dairy, meat and fibre breeds in goats. It may be necessary to do the evaluation both under farmers' flock conditions as well as under organised farm conditions. For the latter purpose large sheep and goat breeding farms may be established in the home tracts of important breeds and a number of breeds of the region should be carried under similar management conditions.
2. Improving mutton production through crossing coarse wool and hairy breeds with exotic mutton breeds in case of sheep and improving milk production in goats through crossing indigenous breeds with exotic dairy breeds needs to be intensified. More work on the aspects of nutrition of the crossbred animals to make meat/milk production from the crosses more economical should be undertaken. Alternative breeding systems, viz. selection within the indigenous breeds and crossing the crosses arising out of exotic fine wool/dual purpose breeds with different exotic mutton breeds in case of sheep should be evaluated.
3. Reproduction is one of the most important components of flock productivity and is a serious limiting factor in productivity of indigenous breeds of sheep and goats. Investigation into the various components of reproduction and their inheritance should be initiated.
4. Artificial insemination techniques should be increasingly adopted and new methods for long term preservation of ram and buck semen, especially through deep freezing, should be developed.
5. Suitable field recording systems for the performance of sheep and goats should be developed to allow much larger selection intensity and availability of large number of selection stud rams/bucks.
6. Economics of supplementary feeding to the growing lambs and kids as well as specialized feedlot systems for lambs and kids should be investigated.
7. It is necessary to integrate sheep and goats in our present land use systems or the systems that are being developed and study their performance under these systems so that the role of sheep and goat as a biotic factor causing soil erosion can be properly understood and steps taken to minimise ft.
8. Since sizeable effort for creating new breeds from crossbreds is being made for fine wool, mutton, pelts etc., in sheep and for milk, meat and fibre in goats, it will be desirable that the crossbreds are evaluated not only in terms of their performance for economic characteristics of interest but also in terms of their adaptation especially to the physical environmental conditions in which they are going to perform. Studies of their grazing/browsing behaviour should also be undertaken vis-a-vis native breeds involved in crosses so that suitable grazing/browsing management systems to exploit the superior genetic merit can be developed.
9. Aspects of sheep and goat nutrition in relation to low protein level in their feed and possibility of compensation through urea recycling should be investigated.
10. Research on cheap sheep and goat shelters and aspects of tolerance of salt in drinking water need to be intensified.
11.Research on diagnostic methods for important disease and suitable control measures against them should be taken up.
Organisation of Appropriate Development Infrastructure
It appears that it is not the lack of knowledge of the problem or a suitable development strategy which is hampering sheep and goat development in the region, but it is the availability of a suitable organisation. The present infrastructure for bringing about improvements in sheep and goat production relies on State Departments of Animal Husbandry in most countries. Organisation of sheep breeders into co-operatives which would undertake genetic imrpovement programmes, improve feed resources, provide health care and marketing expertise may be a more effective system for raising productivity.
Large scale breeding farms could provide the basis for genetic improvement through providing rams/bucks for a large area would be a possible improvement. These could be founded on the principles of group breeding schemes now common in Australia and New Zealand.
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