Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page


Petrovic, M.P.
Zujovic, M.
Institute for Animal Husbandry,




Yugoslavia has great natural potential for development of sheep and goat breeding and the production of high quality food, especially lamb meat, for the domestic and world markets.

The sheep industry

Sheep breeding, as one of the branches of animal production, is of great importance for our country, especially for hilly-mountainous regions. Unfortunately, the number of sheep gradually decreases every year. The greatest decrease in number of sheep (20 percent) was recorded in the period from 1965-1975. In the last ten years (1985-1995) the number of sheep decreased by 14.2 percent, so that in 1996 there was a total of 2 656 000 animals. Out of this number, 2 015 000 were breeding ewes.
About 98 percent of the total number of sheep pertain to the private sector and only 2 percent to the public sector. The average number of animals on the sheep farms in the private sector is between 10-50 (70 percent of the farms) and 50-100 (27 percent of the farms) or 100-300 (3 percent), and in the public farms 3 000-5 000 heads. Sheep husbandry in Yugoslavia is extensive (90 percent) and semi-intensive (10 percent).
The size of private farms is about 5 hectares for 75 percent of the farms, while 25 percent of the farms have more than 5 hectares of arable land. Farmers do all the work on the farm themselves, together with their families. Public farms, of which there are about 20, have considerably larger areas for preparing the forage and for summer grazing of sheep, with about 20-50 workers.
During 1990, 85 000 sheep were raised on public farms, out of which number 60 000 were breeding ewes. This number decreased in 1996 by 28 percent; in that year there were 61 000 sheep with 41 000 breeding ewes.

The products

The main product is meat. The annual production of sheep meat in FR Yugoslavia amounts to about 30 000 tonnes. The trend in sheep meat production in Yugoslavia is also reflected by its place in the world market, that is, in European production. Therefore, by the beginning of the 1980s, our country participated with 0.50 percent in world production and with 2.53 percent in European production. By the beginning of 1990s its participation in world production decreased to 0.43 percent, i.e. to 2.12 percent in European production.
By the analysis of the world's biggest importers and exporters of this meat, it can be seen that the potential of Yugoslavia is very badly used, resulting in its lagging behind considerably both in the production and consumption of sheep meat. Annual export surplus in our country amounts to only 1000 tonnes on average.
In total sheep meat production, slaughtered lambs make up about 70 percent, while the remaining 30 percent goes to ewes and rams.
From the aspect of wider participation of our country in the world and European markets of sheep meat, its advantage lies in the fact that it offers younger lambs (up to 90 days old), with meat of specific, high quality. This quality is, in the first place, a result of forming an export surplus of lambs in hilly-mountainous regions raised in unpolluted soil and water, and in a floristic richness of pastures.
In the same line with production, the consumption of sheep meat per capita is also rather low in our country. Thus, with 2.8 kg consumption, we belong to the European countries with lowest consumption of this kind of meat. For example, Greeks consume over 14 kg, Swedes almost 12 kg, French about 5.5 kg, Turks 5.8 kg, and Germans only 1.1 kg. In Yugoslavia, pig meat is mostly consumed (19 kg), followed by beef (12 kg) and chicken meat (7.6 kg).
Production of sheep milk has always been important in sheep breeding in Yugoslavia. Annual milk production is 50 500 000 litres. Most of this quantity is processed into cheeses, among which the most well-known are hard cheeses, called "kackavalj". This kind of cheese is being exported to some markets of America and Africa.
Wool production in our country is neglected, so that we import this raw material from Australia and New Zealand. In 1996, 3 990 tonnes of raw, unwashed wool were produced (1.7 kg per sheep).
The wool of our sheep (80 percent) is mostly of poor quality, having the fibre diameter of over 30 microns, while the remaining 15-20 percent has somewhat better fineness of wool of 25 microns diameter. Nevertheless, the price of domestic wool is so low that it cannot cover the cost of shearing.
Sheep skin is used in our leather industry and is in fact, inconsequential in the farmers' income.

Breeds and feeding

When talking about the sheep breeding in FR Yugoslavia and its productive potential, it is necessary to say a few words about sheep breed composition, too. We have seen, discussing production, that the current situation in our country is rather unsatisfactory, and that we might obtain much better performance per observed unit, i.e. sheep, if we make considerable changes in our production process. But for the time being, the main reason for such an unfavourable situation is bad breed composition of the sheep.
From the total number of sheep, 80 percent are the Domestic Pramenka breed in which the following strains are most represented: Pirot, Svrljig and Sjenica in Serbia, and Pivska, Zetska and Vasojevic in Montenegro. The remaining 15 percent of the sheep are mainly the crosses of Pramenka and foreign breeds; Merinolandschaf and Ile de France in the first place, while about 5 percent of sheep are Cigaja breed.
In Serbia, immediately after the Second World War, a more productive breed was produced, the so-called "Pirot improved sheep"; and the Institute for Animal Husbandry, Belgrade-Zemun is working on creating a meat type sheep for meat production.
According to the general system of lambing in our country, ewes usually have lambs once a year, in the season from January to March. On a smaller number of farms (10 percent) the lambing is also performed outside the season by means of hormonal induction and synchronization of oestrus.
The feeding of sheep during summer time is exclusively confined to grazing. During the winter period, from November to May, the feeding is based on hay obtained from natural and sown lawns. Silage is used in a lesser degree, and mostly on public farms and larger private farms. Concentrate is used for the feeding of lambs and as an additive to diets for the nutrition of sheep.
The farmers provide all kinds of diets on their farms except concentrate mixtures for lambs, which they purchase in forage factories.
Regarding necessary equipment and machines for work on the farm we must say that it is not entirely satisfactory, especially in regard to milking machines and shearing equipment.

The goat industry

In Yugoslavia, the number of goats dramatically dropped after the Law of Banning goats from fields had been passed in 1954, followed by mass slaughtering of these animals. Since the number of goats is not statistically recorded, it is based mostly on free calculations today.
The number of goats in Serbia (according to random estimates and conducted polls) in 1996 was about 315 000 heads.
According to the analysis of breed participation and production of goats in our country, today there are about 3 percent Saanen, alpine and doe goats (average milk yield 500 litres per milked goat), about 15 percent of Domestic White Dairy goat (average milk yield about 420 litres), 35 percent of various crosses (average milk yield of about 300 litres), about 35 percent of goats of the Balkan type of lower regions (average milk yield 250 litres) and about 12 percent goats of the Balkan type of higher regions (average milk yield 150 litres).
The greatest number of goats are raised on private farms which usually have from 5-10 heads per household. Only a small number of farms, about one percent, raise from 50-200 goats.

The organizations

Private goat and sheep breeders are associated with public agricultural organizations to which they sell their products and from which they buy raw material and semi-finished products. Through these organizations, farmers also receive certain expert help and various consultations concerning their problems. Farmers can also directly contact researchers and specialized institutions dealing with agriculture. The so-called "Yugoslav board for sheep and goat breeding", with its seat at the Institute for Animal Husbandry, Belgrade, is also engaged in the problems of improving this kind of production.
Recently, and particularly during the economic embargo, sheep and goat breeding in Yugoslavia, has suffered great difficulties, especially public farms which are in very difficult state today, and whose number has seriously dropped. But the private sector has, on the contrary, succeeded in saving its animal stock.
Yugoslav farmers have problems which are of a breeding-genetic nature, but the greatest problem is shifting from traditional to modern private farming and application of new technologies and scientific discoveries. The support from the government is most important, by means of different grants and safe placement of products in the market; in other words, the motivation for this kind of business is most necessary.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page