Animal husbandry is the part of agriculture.
Cattle are necessary for milk, manure, ploughing, transportation etc. Likewise, pig-goat-sheep
and poultry birds are being reared for meat and egg. These subsidiary activities are getting
commercial shape and importance. And thus, are becoming main activity generating rural
income. Professional approach is seen in selection of breed, feeding and management. Farmers
in the clutch of uncertain rainfall, labor scarcity and fluctuating prices are moving
towards goat-sheep and poultry. Even the dairy farmers are diverting to sheep and goat farming.
History of sheep and goat is as old as our civilization. Goat is the first domesticated
animal even before to cattle. These small ruminants need less space, food and water
compared to dairy animals. Management is easy. It can survive in drought even the crops fail.
Sheep and goat eat and digest almost everything. They can survive for 7 days without food and
for 3 days without water. It has adjusted to most of the climatic conditions. Dairy
animals are feeling the heat of global warming in recent years. But these small ruminants
grow better. Sheep and goat farming is a good option for landless rural population. These
are called as poor man�s ATM since it can be sold and en-cashed at any time. In our
society beef is not acceptable for Hindus and pork for Muslims. But sheep and goat are
the favorites of all. Hence the marketability is more. Milk, meat, wool, leather and manure
are the products of these small ruminants. Sheep and goat farming is seen in all states
of our country. There are about 40 registered sheep breeds and 20 goat breeds in India.
According to the animal census of 2003, we have 6.5 crore sheep and 12.5 crore goats
in our country. Karnataka has got 75 lakh sheep and 45 lakh goats. These small ruminants
are seen in all dry regions. Keeping sheep herd in agriculture land for one night for
manure is an age old practice. Few farmers rear them for weed control in areca nut and
coconut gardens without inter crops. Grazing sheep before ploughing and after the harvest
of crops will generate some income along with weed control. Weaving of blankets out of sheep
wool is the traditional home industry. But the quality and quantity of wool from our
indigenous sheep breeds is very poor. Cost of the wool matches with the cost of sheering.
Hence meat is the only viable commercial product from sheep in India. Ban on cow slaughtering
in few states has increased the demand for sheep and goat meat. In organic farming sheep
excreta or the pellets are preferred. All these have increased the commercial importance
of sheep and goat farming in recent years. Population of goat is more in India. But Karnataka
and Andhra Pradesh have more number of sheep than goat. The demand and price for mutton
is also high in those states. Goat meat is more fibrous and harder. But the sheep meat
or mutton is smooth. Goat likes browsing on the bushes, whereas the sheep grazes on weeds
and grasses on the ground. Normally sheep do not browse the leaves at height. Sheep
need less food than goat. Goat has some naughty behavior. But the sheep is obedient and fearing
nature. Health management is difficult in goats. It needs more medicines since it wastes
the same while drenching. Possibility of reaction of medicines is also more in goats. But these
problems are less in sheep. Mortality of kids is more in goats while the health management
of sheep is easy and less expensive. Ecto-parasite problem is more in goats due to absence of
wool cover, while it is less in sheep. One lamb per lambing is the main drawback
of sheep. Hence it will not multiply so fast like goat. In heavy rainfall area goat farming
is possible with stall fed system. But the sheep can not survive in forest and coastal
areas with high humidity. Milk yield is more in goats. But the milk production is not sufficient
in sheep even for lamb sometimes. We find only traditional sheep farming in
our country till today. Landless people graze their sheep in community grazing lands. Sheep
herds moving from region to region are also common. But the availability of grazing land
is decreasing very fast. Getting labor for sheep grazing is difficult. Community grazing
lands have disappeared by encroachment. Sheep get enough fodder only during rainy season.
They spend more energy on wandering in search of food. Hence the growth is slow and is up
to 2 kilograms per month maximum. Most of the farmers do not provide feed and fodder
at home. Hence these grazing sheep gains up to 25 to 30 kilograms maximum in one and half
to 2 years. Traditional farmers keep only the local breeds which can not grow more.
Streams and rivers dry up by December. Hence these sheep do not get clean water to drink.
Polluted water brings diseases and parasites. Eggs in the fecal matter hatch and enter the
body of grazing sheep. Due to natural crossing while grazing in herd, planned breeding is
not possible. Off course the initial investment and the management expenses are very less
in traditional sheep farming. However, this open grazing system is not at all advisable
for commercial sheep farming for high quality meat production. Stall feeding is the only
solution. Hence, we have visualized the stall-fed system as an alternative for traditional sheep
farming in this documentary film. There is one more intermediate system of sheep
farming. Farmers with sufficient grazing land, graze the sheep in the daytime. Provide nutritious
feed and fodder at home in addition. This system is popular in sparsely populated developed
countries. They have grazing lands exclusively for sheep. Only one person with few trained
dogs maintains thousands of sheep. Even they use helicopters to chase the sheep. This system
is called semi-intensive in which the feeding cost is less. Hence the net profit is more.
Many farmers in our country also practice this system. Sheep grazing multiple species
of plants get balanced nutrition. Here onwards we will learn the scientific
and systematic stall-fed sheep rearing system. First let us see the suitable climate. Sheep
needs dry climate. It has no problem with low temperature in winter. But the relative
humidity in the rainy season should not be high. Hence low rainfall area is good for
sheep. Hilly forest area and the coastal regions are not suitable. Even in medium rainfall
area the problem of worms and diseases is more. Sheep suffer with cold, cough, HS and
CCPP problems in marshy places. Apart from suitable climate sufficient land and water
to grow green fodder is necessary. If one can get 3 crops of fodder in a year one acre
is enough for 40 to 45 sheep. Fodder crop in 2 acres can feed 40 sheep and their lambs
which can generate up to 2 to 2.5 lakh rupees per year.
Now let us study the housing for sheep. Goat likes to stay at height above the ground.
But the sheep is happy on the ground itself. Shed is necessary to shelter the sheep during
rain and in night hours. Go for low cost or systematic high cost shed depending upon the
investment capacity. This farmer has converted this silkworm rearing house in to sheep shed.
But this farmer had constructed the ideal shed separately. Cross ventilation and light
penetration is most important in the sheep shed. Open paddock next to the shed like this
is necessary. Keeping the sheep here at least for few hours daily is a must. In this farm
feed and fodder are given here itself. Sheep are kept inside the shed only during night
hours. Here the shed is of open type and the sheep spend more time inside the shed. It
is fed here itself. Concentrates and water are given in the paddock. Technically both
these methods are acceptable. Each adult sheep needs 10 square feet area. Shed and the paddock
together are covered by wire mesh fence of enough height. Trees around the farm keep
the atmosphere cool. Pregnant ewes, lambs and rams are kept in separate groups based
on sex, age and body weight. This is necessary to provide feed-fodder and medicine in required
quantity and time. Bamboo or wire mesh partitions are made for this purpose. Mud floor is better.
It absorbs the urine minimizing ammonia smell. This is important for good health of the sheep.
Here the burnt mud bricks are used for flooring for easy maintenance. But cement floor is
not advisable. Sheep regularly lying on cement floor gets bed sores.
Distributing the feed and fodder in this big herd is a big task. Feeders of this kind are
useful. It may be of wood or metal sheet. One feeder for 15 to 20 sheep is necessary
to avoid competition. This type of water troughs of GI sheet are kept for drinking water. Plastic
coated metal troughs are still better. Clean the feeders and water troughs once in a day.
Motored and manual chaff cutters are the other necessary equipments.
Now let us discuss the sheep breeds. Locally we find many breeds and cross breeds. Karnataka
has 4 registered breeds. They are Deccani, Ballari, Hassana and Bannuru. Likewise, each
state has its own breed. Local breed sheep in the traditional grazing system gains 25
to 30 kilogram maximum in 2 years. It can not perform better even in stall feeding.
All these are meat and wool breeds. But the yield of wool is hardly 500 to 750 grams per
sheep per year. It fetches 15 to 20 rupees per kilogram. We do not have separate wool
breed like other countries. Hence this wool is not a commercial product for our farmers.
This is the well known Bannuru breed from Karnataka. Mutton of this sheep is world famous
for its flavor. Growth and the body weight are also good. But none of these indigenous
breeds are viable under stall feeding in pure breed form. But use them for cross breeding
with exotic breeds like Rambouillet, Darper etc.
This is Rambouillet sheep from USA. The best breed for stall fed system. Population of
this breed is very limited in India. Hence it is being used for cross breeding. Just
born lamb weighs 3 to 4 kilograms under good management. It eats all type of fodders and
gains 4 to 6 kilograms per months. It grows up to 50 to 60 kilograms in 10 to 12 months.
Rambouillet ram can reach up to 100 to 120 kilograms. It is better to purchase Rambouillet
pure breed rams and Rambouillet cross breed ewes to start new farms. Cross breed lambs
grow faster than pure breed ones. Pure breeds are maintained separately for breeding purpose.
Disease resistance of both indigenous and exotic breeds is same. All major diseases
and parasites affect both the categories. Ewes attain maturity by 12 to 14 months and
the rams by 10 to 12 months. Artificial insemination is not popular in India due to less percentage
of conception. Hence keep one ram for 20 to 25 ewes. Rams and ewes are kept in separate
groups. Send the selected ram in to the herd of ewes ready for mating. April � May and
July � August are the regular breeding seasons in traditional sheep farms. But in case of
stall feeding with nutritious food there is no season as such. It is not a problem also.
Ewe comes in to oestrus after 2 months of lambing. We can expect 3 lambing in 2 years
under good management. Normally ewe delivers only one lamb per lambing. 2 lambs are very
rare. But Gerol sheep from West Bengal gives 2 lambs in each lambing.
Ewe selected for breeding for the first time should be in 2 teeth stage. That is at 14-month
age. The minimum body weight must be at least 20 to 22 kilograms. Do not use under- weight
ewes. Select 100 ewes for breeding in the beginning. Retain 60 to 70 % of them for further
breeding based on the desired characteristics after first lambing. Cull out the remaining
ones. The ram selected for breeding should have 30 to 35 kilograms of body weight by
2 teeth stage. Growth of both the testicles must be uniform. Ram should be healthy, active
and standing like a horse on straight and strong legs. Avoid rams and ewes with any
sexual disease. In our country ewes are retained for breeding for 5 to 6 years. They are culled
out early in developed countries. Ewes produce weak lambs and suffer with debility at old
age. Inbreeding is the major problem of sheep farming.
Due to this, local breeds in traditional farming are suffering with stunted growth and many
other health problems. Hence put tags to each ram and maintain its ancestry records. Change
the ram in each breeding season. If the farm has more than one group of breeding ewes,
ram may be shifted to another group in the next season. Here we can retain the ram for
one more season. Later on, buy or exchange the new ram from a distant farm without blood
relation with ewes. Avoiding inbreeding is most important for the success of sheep farming.
Gestation period is 145 to 150 days in sheep. Separate the ewes from the herd one week before
lambing and keep observation. Clean the nose and mouth of newly born lamb to facilitate
easy breathing. This ewe has delivered the lamb an hour ago. Cut off the umbilical cord
at 2-inch length with a clean knife and apply tincture iodine. Or put cotton swab dipped
in iodine like this and tie with cloth. Infection to the umbilical chord will cause Arthritis.
Collect the placenta and through it away. Keep the mother and lamb on a dry floor. If
the shed is infected with E. coli pathogen, drench Ampicillin antibiotic in water to newly
born lamb. Feed the pregnant and delivered ewes with more amounts of concentrates and
mineral mixture. Newly born lamb should suck the colostrums
within half an hour. It is most important for the development of disease resistance.
Keep the lamb with its mother for 15 days. Later on, separate the lamb and allow it to
feed the milk thrice a day. Unless the lamb keeps away from its mother it will not learn
eating grass and fodder. Wean the lamb after 3-month. Only the rams develop horns. Normally
it is retained. In some breeds like Bannuru even the rams do not have horns. Hence there
is no question of de-horning in sheep. Put marking tags to the lambs to facilitate maintaining
records. This is compulsory for insurance. Sheep do not prefer dry fodder grass. But
it likes dry herbage of dicot plants like black gram, cowpea, horse gram, dolichos and
lucerne etc. Sheep may be fed with improved varieties of fodder grasses. But the water
content of these green fodders more and dry matter is less. Hence the sheep needs more
quantity of concentrated feed to gain body weight. This increases the cost of production.
Instead of these grasses grow yellow maize and go for silage preparation. Sheep like
silage and gain body weight. Silage is fed twice a day- once in the morning and again
in the evening. Each adult sheep needs 2 to 2.5 kilograms of silage per day. This farm
has more than 1000 adult sheep. Here the sheep is fed with half kilogram of protein rich
lucerne by noon apart from silage twice a day. Concentrated feed is not given. 10 grams
of mineral mixture and 5 grams of urea dissolved in water per sheep are spread on the silage
in the morning. Growth and the health of the sheep are excellent. Concentrated feed is
only for weak, pregnant and lambed ewes. If the silage and lucerne are not fed regular
dose of concentrate is inevitable. This farm could save huge spending on concentrates with
nutritious fodder. Silage is the main food in this farm also.
30 to 50 grams of concentrate per sheep per day is also given. This feed is prepared by
mixing broken maize, cereal powder and ground nut cake. 5 to 10 grams of mineral mixture
per sheep per day is also added with this feed. Urea is not used here. It is easy to
give vitamins, feed additives and necessary medicines with this concentrate. Feed is soaked
in water like this and fed. According to animal nutrition experts the composition of the feed
should be like this- Broken cereal grains-30 to 40 %, Oil cakes- 20 to 30 %, Cereal bran-
30 to 40 %, Common salt- 1% and mineral mixture- 2%.
Now let us go through the scientific method of silage making. Though the silage is useful,
is not yet popular among farmers. Yellow maize is grown for silage making. Just after milky
grain stage, that is by 85 days crop is harvested with cobs. Generally sunken silage pits of
this type are in use. Here the stone slabs are used for flooring and wall. It is helpful
to control rats. Put thick plastic sheets on all side of the silo pit. Even the cement
or stone pit needs plastic layer. This retains moisture in the silage and prevents air and
water entering inside. Silage making is the anaerobic fermentation of fodder. Silage gets
spoiled if air enters inside. Cut the fodder with the cob to quarter inch
size. Let it fall directly in to the pit. If the dicot plants are mixed the nutritive
value of the silage will be better. Dissolve 20 kilograms of Jaggary in 150 liters of water
in a barrel. Put 50 liters of water in another bowl and mix 250 grams of silage microorganism
culture. Few private labs produce this silage culture mixture. This costs about 13 to 14,000
rupees per kilogram and is sufficient for 100 tons of fodder. This is most important
for good quality silage and also for easy digestion. Silage without culture may sometimes
create diarrhea in sheep. Mix this culture solution in to the Jaggary water. Sprinkle
this solution at the rate of 10 liters per ton of fodder. This farmer has an easy method
for sprinkling. This small tub on the top of the platform contains culture solution.
Drip irrigation pipe attached to the bottom of the tub brings down the solution. This
pipe opens on the top of the chaff cutter and solution is sprinkled automatically. A
tap attached to the pipe controls the flow. 1 kilogram of common salt per ton of fodder
is also added. Complete the filling of the silo pit on the
same day. Do not continue for the 2nd day. Trample the fodder in the pit by clean-bare
feet so that the air inside the heap comes out. Cover the pit with plastic sheet to make
it airtight. Put stone or sand bags on it. Silo-pit with 20 tons of fodder needs 5 tons
of weight. Prevent the rain and flood water entering the silage pit. Rat should not burrow
inside. This allows air and insects inside spoiling the silage. This fodder turns in
to silage after 15 days of filling and keeps up to 2 years. Size of cutting, amount of
trampling and the weight on the top decides the quality of the silage. This silage is
good even for goats, cows and buffaloes. One cubic feet space of the pit holds 12 to
15 kilograms of silage. This pit is 30 feet long, 6 feet wide and 10 feet deep. That is
1800 cubic feet. This accommodates 25 to 30 tons of silage. It is difficult to take out
the silage if the depth of the pit is more than 10 feet. Do not open the entire silo
pit while using the silage. It is better to open 2 to 3 feet of the length of the pit
and exhaust up to the bottom. If the pit is opened like this covering it again is a must
after the usage for the day. Silage can be prepared even with rain fed fodder sorghum
varieties like SSV-73, PVK-01, GD-65195 and GD-65174. These also yield 10 tons of fodder
per acre. Harvest and cut the fodder along with its grains irrespective of the variety.
This contains 10 to 15 % of grain by weight. Hence the sheep eating 2 kilograms of silage
will get at least 200 grams of grain. One can escape from using concentrates if this
kind of silage is fed. Silage culture used enables easy digestion and increases the availability
of nutrients. Sheep will not grow like this if it is fed only with green fodder. Indigestion
is not seen even if the sheep eats excess quantity of silage. Yellow maize yields 15
tons of biomass per acre. 40 to 50 tons of fodder is available from 3 crops in a year.
Each adult sheep needs 1 ton of silage per year. So, one can raise 40 to 45 sheep with
1 acre of fodder. Do not forget to use organic manure and micro nutrients to the soil for
this continuous crop. Crop rotation is still better. 60 to 65 % is the optimum moisture
content in the fodder to get good quality silage. If the silage contains more moisture
sheep suffers with the shortage of dry matter. Yellow maize is excellent for silage production.
But it will not come up well in high rainfall and low fertility areas. One can go for CO-4,
AP-01, Guinea or any other improved fodder grass for silage making. Or it may be fed
as green itself. In this case 2 kilograms of Jaggary per ton of fodder is advised for
good quality silage production. But this silage contains no grains. Hence feeding concentrates
is inevitable. Using silage avoids the hectic work of fodder transportation and cutting
every day. Thus, reduces the labor requirement on regular days. Availability of nutrients
is more in the silage than green fodder. Sheep eat even tree fodders. Mulberry, Gliricidia,
Subabul, Sesbenia, hedge Lucerne and the tree fodders like jack fruit, mango etc. may be
fed. Fodder grown continuously on any farm will have deficiency of micronutrients. These
tree fodders will balance the nutrition along with taste. These perennial tree species grow
without irrigation. Stall fed sheep may also be grazed around the shed on weeds and crop
residues. This multi species grazing brings good growth in sheep.
Now let us go through the other management works. Clean the sheep shed once in a day.
Collect the pellets and waste fodder and heap at a distance. Washing the shed is not recommended.
Shed remains dry since the pellets are dry and the amount of urine is less. It is better
if the sheep are kept in the paddock in the daytime. Floor of the shed should be dry always.
Prepare a mixture of lime powder- 98% and ground copper sulfate 2%. Spread this 2-3
times in rainy season and twice in summer. This keeps the floor dry and avoids the growth
of pathogens. Formalin fumigation is not in practice in sheep sheds. Ewe is given bath
once before mating and once after 15 days. Give bath 2-3 times in summer if the sheep
get dirty. But avoid bath from June to December. Otherwise sheep develops cold. Dirt will not
reach the skin since it has enough wool cover. Dip the sheep in a tank with suitable insecticide
for the control of ecto-parasites like lice, ticks etc. Spraying the same solution or injecting
chemicals like Ivermectin is also in practice. Sheering of the wool once in a year is necessary
for good health of the sheep. Good rams are in great demand. But castrate the other rams
which are not useful for reproduction within 6 months. This gives more growth and good
quality mutton. Sheep need less water, that too in rainy season. But in summer each adult
sheep drink 4-5 liters of water. Keep clean water in the paddock in the tub or water channel.
Sheep in stall fed system develops extra flat growth of hooves like this. This gives trouble
in walking. Cut off this with suitable cutter. Avoid excess cutting which may cause bleeding.
This procedure is called hoof trimming. Pellet has more nutrients than cow dung. Hence
it is in good demand. It has 1.93% nitrogen, 1.3% phosphorus and 2.31 % potash. Keeping
the sheep on the farm for one night will give good crop for two years. Manure collected
in the sheep farm may be used for fodder or other crops. It fetches 2000 rupees per tractor
load if sold. Now let us study the health management aspect.
Let us start with endo-parasites. Round worm, tape worms etc. are common in sheep like other
ruminants. This problem is more in grazing sheep. Parasites suck the blood causing debility.
Sheep may die if the infestation is severe. Hence de-worming is most important for successful
sheep farming. Put first doze of de-worming medicine at 20 to 30-day stage for lambs.
Next doze by 2 to 2.5-month age or at 10-kilogram body weight. De-worm the adult sheep once
in August-September and again twice afterwards. The grazing sheep need 5 de-worming per year.
There are many chemicals and brands. Dosage depends on body weight. Hence it is better
to consult an experienced veterinarian for any medication. The ecto-parasites create
many health problems apart from sucking blood. Dipping, spraying or injection of suitable
chemical is followed for the control of ecto-parasites. Control of ecto and endo parasites is most
important for best utilization of nutrients fed.
ET or Enterotoxaemia is a deadly disease of sheep. Excess feeding of moist fodder, sudden
change in the food or climate will bring this problem. ET is common in rainy season. Sheep
with good growth is more affected. Pathogenic bacteria called Clostridium develops very
fast in the nutritious food in intestine. Sheep dies due to the toxin released by the
bacteria. Teeth grinding, bending the head on one side, diarrhea, lying down and convulsion
with debility, sudden death after circling round etc. are the symptoms of ET. There will
be no sufficient time for treatment if the problem is severe. To prevent ET put first
doze of vaccine at two and half month stage for the lamb. Boosting resistance is recommended
by another doze of vaccine after 17 to 30 days. Adult sheep are vaccinated once in March
and again in September with ET vaccine. HS or Haemorrhagic Septicemia is one more
dangerous contagious disease of small ruminants. Sheep develop this problem by consuming polluted
feed and water and also by contact with other infected sheep. Fever, difficult breathing,
no feeding or Anorexia, diarrhea with or without blood, abortion in pregnant ewes etc. are
the symptoms of HS disease. This is a deadly disease in which the sheep dies in 2-3 days
without feed intake. This problem is more in the humid climate of rainy season. Detection
and treatment of HS disease is difficult. To prevent this problem, vaccinate the lamb
at 2.5 to 3-month stage. Booster doze may be given after 17 to 30 days. Adult sheep
are vaccinated once in June-July and again after 6 months.
PPR Disease: This is a contagious viral disease seen in all seasons. High fever, watery lacrimation
in eyes, salivation in wounded mouth, debility due to anorexia, white strips below the nose,
shooting diarrhea etc. are the symptoms of PPR disease. To prevent this problem, vaccinate
the lamb at 2 to 3-month stage. Adult sheep are given PPR vaccination yearly once in December-January.
Sheep Pox: It is also a deadly contagious viral disease. Pathogen spreads by air and
the contact with the affected sheep. Fever and watery lacrimation in the eyes are seen
initially. In the later stage pustules appear around the base of the tail, eyes and on the
udder and thigh skin. Pustules turn in to wound. Cough may be seen if the pustules develop
in the lungs and respiratory tract. Lambs are affected more. At least half of the sheep
in the herd die. To prevent this disease, vaccinate the lamb by 4 to 5-month age. Do
not put too early. Vaccinate the adult sheep once in a year.
Blue Tongue Disease or BT: This is also a viral disease spread by Quliyayids flies.
This problem is more during rainy season and in marshy areas. Fever, swelling of lips,
mandible and ears, salivation, blue coloured tongue, limping, shedding of wool etc. are
the symptoms of BT disease. Lambs die due to starvation and other secondary infections.
Veterinary scientists have developed a trial vaccine for this, which is proved effective.
Give this vaccine once in a year by July-August. Foot and Mouth Disease or FMD: This contagious
viral disease is rarely seen in sheep. Normally stall-fed sheep escape this problem. Contact
with the affected animal, saliva, slime or the fodder polluted with the pathogen spreads
this FMD disease. Fever, salivation, wound in the grooves of the hooves and mouth etc.
are the symptoms. Limping is seen due to pain. Keep the sheep away from the cattle affected
with FMD disease. Vaccinate the sheep twice a year in the out-break area of the disease.
Foot Rot is one more major problem in sheep. This disease is seen in rainy season if the
temperature is more than 30 degree centigrade with high humidity. This problem starts if
the sheep wander in mud mixed with cow dung and pellets. Pus accumulates in the grooves
of the hooves. Sheep experiences severe pain. Maggots may be seen in the open wound. Malignant
growth in the groove of the hooves may end up in peeling of hooves. Foot rot repeats
in the same herd in the next season if the situation is conducive. Inject Strepto Penicillin
or any suitable antibiotic to the affected sheep. To prevent foot rot, maintain hygienic
condition in and around the sheep shed. Dust a mixture of lime powder and copper sulfate
on the floor of the shed 2-3 times a year. Formalin fumigation may also be carried out
once in the rainy season. If the paddock is kept clean, stall fed sheep escape foot rot
problem. All these vaccines cannot be administered
at a time. Maximum 1 vaccine may be given per month. Develop a clear vaccination schedule
and carry out. Vaccinate the lambs at right stage and bring them in to the adult vaccination
schedule in due course of time. Putting any vaccine one- or two-weeks difference will
not be a problem. State veterinary department will carry out all vaccination free of cost.
Test the pellets in the laboratory once in 6 months for endo-parasites. Blood test once
in a while will indicate the health condition. Testing the feed and fodder will confirm the
nutrient content. Lab at National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology at Adugodi,
Bengaluru and the labs of veterinary universities will do all these analyses free of cost for
farmers. These labs are useful for all domestic animals.
It is better to go for insurance for these costly sheep. 5% of the market value is the
premium. Government veterinary doctor has to give valuation certificate. Putting marking
tags to the insured sheep is compulsory. If the insured sheep dies the carcass should
be kept till the inspection by the representative of the insurance company is over or for 12
hours. There is one simple method to asses the age
of sheep. Newly born lamb develops milk teeth after one week. At definite age permanent
teeth replace these milk teeth. By counting milk teeth, we can guess the age of the animal.
These are the milk teeth, which indicate that the age is less than one year. This sheep
has developed 2 permanent teeth. 2 teeth are seen by 12 to 14 months. At 20-month stage
sheep will have 4 permanent teeth. Look, this sheep is in 4 teeth stage. By 24 months it
will have 6 permanent teeth. This sheep is in 6 teeth stage. By age of 3 years or 36
months sheep develops last pair of permanent teeth. Look, this sheep has 8 teeth. That
means the growth is complete. After 7 years teeth start showing depreciation. This method
of assessing age of the animal is an age-old practice and is reliable also.
Developed countries have separate sheep breed for meat and wool purposes. But it is not
so in India. Our farmers are not bothered about the quality of meat. They sell their
sheep whenever they need money. Mutton from the aged sheep is fibrous and hard. It tastes
less and hence fetches less price. Sheep at 2 teeth age gives the best mutton. Systematic
categorization of mutton is not in practice in our country. Maximum profit is by selling
the sheep by 12 to 14 months. Later on, the speed of growth or the feed conversion ratio
comes down. Most of the sheep are sold in traditional sheep market. Or the merchants
purchase the sheep from the farmer and sell it to the mutton stalls. Breed, age, dressed
meat percentage, consumer�s choice etc. decide the price. Systematic markets are not
yet developed in India. Hardly few slaughter houses exist for sheep. Import of mutton in
to India is negligible. Mutton is preferred in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh states. And
hence the demand and the price are more. In all other states, goat meat gets first preference.
Dressed mutton percentage is 40 to 50 in India. Stall fed Rambouillet sheep before breeding
can yield up to 60 to 65 % dressed meat. The reason is less loss of energy and less size
of intestine. Aged sheep ram used for breeding for years and the lambing ewe yield less percentage
of mutton, even though the body is large. Mutton is in great demand. Well grown up rams
get best price especially during Islamic festivals. Live sheep fetches half price that of mutton.
That means if the mutton price is rupees 250 per kilogram, live sheep gets rupees 125 per
kilogram. Stall fed Rambouillet sheep gains 40 to 50-kilogram body weight by 10 to 12
months. It sells at least for 6 to 7000 rupees. Cost of production of 1 kilogram of silage
is 1 rupee. Each sheep needs 2 kilograms of silage per day. Hence the fodder cost is rupees
2 per day. If 50 grams of concentrate is fed it costs 50 paisa per day. Wages, electricity,
medicine, feed additives etc. together will cost one and half rupees per day per sheep.
In total the cost of rearing of stall-fed sheep is rupees 4 per day per sheep. That
is rupees 1500 per sheep per year. Stall fed sheep of one-year age fetches at least 5 to
6000 rupees. Thus, the systematic stall feeding of sheep generates an attractive income. 8
to 10 people can handle 1000 sheep under stall fed system with silage. Labor requirement
is less compared to dairy farm. Labor shortage is the major problem of agriculture
in recent years. Flood, drought, fluctuation of price etc. have worsened the situation.
But all of us can not run away from our land in search of jobs. What we need is the better
alternative, which can give assured and stable income. Though the dairy farming is good,
handling milk twice a day is difficult for many of us. Initial investment is also more.
Hence the sheep and goat farming can be a good option. It has the potentiality to develop
like poultry industry. Let us hope our farmers will en-cash this opportunity in coming years.