Shimla: Himachal Pradesh government has launched livestock development project ‘Genetic Improvement of Gaddi Sheep’ to be completed with an outlay of Rs. 595 crores. A centrally sponsored project is five years long for genetically improvement of identified indigenous sheep and goats (GISG) for Gaddi breed and nondescript sheep in Chamba and Mandi districts to preserve the gene pool of the native breed.
Animal Husbandry Minister Virender Kanwar revealed the Government of India will provide around Rs. 535.50 crore while the state government will provide a remaining share of Rs. 59.50 crore for the centrally funded livestock development project launched initially in Mandi and Chamba districts. A provision of Rs.179.47 crore has been made for the first year while the budget provision of Rs. 324.44 crore, Rs. 26.43 crore, Rs. 32.33 crore and Rs. 32.33 crores allocated for second, third, fourth and fifth years respectively. He said this programme will raise the economic status of around 5000 gaddi population of around 500 families living in remote areas of Chamba and Mandi districts.
The project is targeted at selective breeding programmes based on production parameters such as body weight and the ability to produce offspring, to increase productivity and reduce mortality of indigenous sheep and goats in order to improve body weight and wool yield of indigenous sheep and goats. The Animal Husbandry department has started the process for selection of 30 Rams and 1090 ewes for cross-breeding, by organizing exhibitions at various places and process is likely to be completed by the end of March, after which the project will be commissioned with great pace and speed in selected districts.
There are 1,97,278 non-descript sheep in Himachal Pradesh as per census of 2012 and there is an immediate need for up-gradation through cross-breeding/upgrading. As per the census, total female indigenous sheep population of district Chamba and Mandi is 173081 and 54095 respectively. A major challenge in sheep production system in the state is to improve body weight and wool yield. The selective breeding of Gaddi sheep will not only be helpful in increasing the percentage of body weight and wool yield but would also help, to preserve the gene pool of the native breed, that are not only well suited to the less intensive farming methods but may well possess characteristics or genotypes that will be important in the future and act as an insurance against changing circumstances.
The project aims to meet the demands of large numbers of proven rams, to cover the existing population through conventional breeding technique. There is a great demand for genetically superior rams by the local breeders. By using Artificial Insemination (AI) technique, not only the desired produce of best quality rams for sheep breeders but would also genetically upgrade the non-descript sheep population of the state.
The innovative project would be tackling the problem of low productivity of Gaddi sheep and gradually improve the low genetic potential of Gaddi sheep in the state, through selective breeding as well as, use of AI with liquid semen obtained from disease-free proven straws. Accordingly, with implementation of innovative programme on breed improvement for Gaddi Sheep, there will be a triple advantage of conservation of native breed and higher population of high genetic material sheep coupled with increased farmer’s income per animal and at the same time addressing the growing demand of meat, and wool within and outside the state.
During the first year, the department would start process of identification of best female animals by organizing exhibitions with prize money for selected ewes, at the rate of Rs.3000 per ewe. The number of ewes identified would be at least three times more than the number of rams, required for covering the entire breedable female population of the selected districts. The ewes will be examined for health status and vaccinated. The name and address of the owner of the ewes shall be taken and recorded to facilitate the skilled recorder to record the traits of the male lambs thus given birth by such ewes. Simultaneously, the required number of rams with good vigour and phenotype will be identified and purchased by the government from established tracts/areas for breeding with the identified ewes.
For the second years onwards, the male lambs born out of the identified ewes and having satisfactory growth rate and preferably out of twinning lambs will be identified and records will be collected till nine months of age at the farmer’s house itself. Recorded data will be sent to Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (CSWRI), Avikanagar, to get the approval to purchase the Rams for breeding. A sum of Rs. 5,000 will be given to each owner of the identified male lambs for taking good care of the animals. Following recommendations from the CSWRI, Avikanagar, the selected high genetic merit rams will be purchased at the rate not exceeding Rs.30,000 and distributed to progressive farmers. To produce the desired result, potential villages in one or two blocks or areas shall be selected so that a cluster approach is achieved which would help support the convergence of resources.
Virender Kanwar said that necessary training to the staff in semen processing work and AI in sheep using liquid semen will be provided at institutes like CSWRI Avikanagar. Veterinarians will also be trained for AI technique for carrying out the AI under field condition. All the identified, as well as selected animals, will be insured and ear-tagged and examined for health status and vaccinated at regular intervals.
Picture Credit: Harvinder