Exotic Sheep Farm in india
Sheep farming is a profitable and sustainable livestock enterprise that can provide income and livelihood to many rural households in India. Sheep are mainly reared for wool, meat, milk and manure. India has a large and diverse sheep population of about 74 million, comprising of 42 indigenous breeds and 7 exotic breeds. Exotic sheep breeds are mainly brought to India to improve the wool quality and quantity, along with increasing mutton production by crossing with local sheep. In most of the cases, the exotic breeds are performing fairly well than crossbreeds. They are also well adapted to the Indian climatic and environmental conditions.
Classification of Exotic Sheep Breeds in India
Exotic sheep breeds in India are mainly classified into four categories based on their primary purpose of production:
- Fine Wool Breeds: These breeds produce fine and crimpy wool with high quality and quantity. They are suitable for making garments and textiles. Examples of fine wool breeds are Merino, Rambouillet, Corriedale and Polwarth.
- Mutton Breeds: These breeds produce lean and tender meat with high dressing percentage and carcass quality. They are suitable for meat consumption and export. Examples of mutton breeds are Suffolk, Dorset, Hampshire and Cheviot.
- Dual-purpose Breeds: These breeds produce both wool and meat with moderate quality and quantity. They are suitable for mixed farming systems and diversified markets. Examples of dual-purpose breeds are Southdown, Romney Marsh, Coopworth and Drysdale.
- Pelt Breeds: These breeds produce skins with fine hair or wool that are used for making rugs, carpets, coats and other products. They are suitable for niche markets and value addition. Examples of pelt breeds are Karakul, Persian and Tibetan.
Performance of Exotic Sheep Breeds in India
The following table summarizes the performance of some exotic sheep breeds in India in terms of their body weight, wool yield, staple length, fibre diameter and lambing percentage.
|Breed||Body Weight (kg)||Wool Yield (kg)||Staple Length (cm)||Fibre Diameter (micron)||Lambing Percentage (%)|
|Merino||50-65 (Ewes), 75 (Rams)||3-4 (Ewes), 4.5 (Rams)||5-10||18-24||80-90|
|Rambouillet||60-80 (Ewes), 120 (Rams)||4-5 (Ewes), 6 (Rams)||6-12||20-25||90-100|
|Suffolk||70-90 (Ewes), 100-125 (Rams)||2-3||5-8||25-33||120-150|
|Dorset||50-80 (Ewes), 80-110 (Rams)||2.5-3.5||6-10||27-30||120-150|
|Southdown||40-50 (Ewes), 75 (Rams)||2-3||4-7||23-29||100-120|
|Cheviot||40-50 (Ewes), 75 (Rams)||2.5-3.5||8-12||27-33||100-120|
|Karakul||35-45 (Ewes), 60 (Rams)||1.5-2.5||–||–||–|
Advantages of Exotic Sheep Farming in India
Exotic sheep farming in India has several advantages over indigenous sheep farming such as:
- Higher wool production and quality with finer fibre diameter, longer staple length, higher clean yield and better spinning count.
- Higher meat production and quality with leaner carcass, higher dressing percentage, lower fat content and better tenderness.
- Higher milk production and quality with higher fat and protein content and lower somatic cell count.
- Higher reproductive efficiency with higher lambing percentage, shorter lambing interval, higher twinning rate and lower mortality rate.
- Higher adaptability to different climatic zones, feed resources, management systems and disease resistance.
- Higher genetic potential for improvement through selection, crossbreeding and breeding programmes.
Challenges of Exotic Sheep Farming in India
Exotic sheep farming in India also faces some challenges and constraints such as:
- Higher initial investment and maintenance cost for purchasing, feeding, housing, health care and breeding of exotic sheep.
- Higher susceptibility to heat stress, parasites, diseases and predators due to their white colour, woolly coat and lack of adaptation.
- Lower availability and accessibility of quality breeding stock, feed resources, veterinary services, extension support and market facilities.
- Lower consumer preference and awareness for exotic sheep products due to their higher price, unfamiliar taste and lack of promotion.
- Lower policy support and incentives for exotic sheep farming from the government and other agencies.
Exotic sheep farming in India is a promising and profitable venture that can enhance the income and livelihood of the sheep farmers. Exotic sheep breeds have superior performance and potential for wool, meat, milk and pelt production. However, exotic sheep farming also requires proper planning, management, marketing and support to overcome the challenges and constraints. Therefore, exotic sheep farmers should adopt scientific and innovative practices to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of their enterprise.