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Animal Husbandry > Sheep

General Information

Sheep with its multi-facet utility for wool, meat, milk, skins and manure, form an important component of rural economy particularly in the arid, semi-arid and mountainous areas of the country. It provides a dependable source of income to the shepherds through sale of wool and animals. The advantages of sheep farming are:

  • Sheep do not need expensive buildings to house them and on the other hand require less labour than other kinds of livestock.
  • The foundation stock is relatively cheap and the flock can be multiplied rapidly.
  • Sheep are economical converter of grass into meat and wool.
  • Sheep will eat varied kinds of plants compared to other kind of livestock. This makes them excellent weed destroyer.
  • Unlike goats, sheep hardly damage any tree.
  • The production of wool, meat and manure provides three different sources of income to the shepherd.
  • The structure of their lips helps them to clean grains lost at harvest time and thus convert waste feed into profitable products.
  • Mutton is one kind of meat towards, which there is no prejudice by any community in India and further development of superior breeds for mutton production will have a great scope in the developing economy of India.

Scope for Sheep Farming and its importance

The country has 61.4 million sheep as per 2003 livestock census and ranks sixth in the world. The state wise sheep population is given below. During 2001-02 wool production stands at the modest level of 50.709 million, skin with wool sheep 524 MT, sheep and goat meat 7,00,500 MT in 2001-02, sheep fresh 52,380 MT. The export earnings from different woolen products during 1994-95 were Rs. 25,773 million. The contribution of sheep to total meat production in the country is around 14 percent. The contribution of sheep through export of meat is 8 percent of the total export value of agricultural and processed food products. Live sheep are also exported for meat purpose. Sheepskin in the form of leather and leather products is also exported.

State wise sheep population in India during 1997 & 2003 (in thousands)

No. States/ Union Territories 1997 2003
1 Andhra Pradesh
9743
21376
2 Arunachal Pradesh
27
19
3 Assam
84
170
4 Bihar
1956
1062
5 Chattisgarh
196
121
6 Goa
0
0
7 Gujarat
2158
2062
8 Haryana
1275
633
9 Himachal Pradesh
1080
926
10 Jammu & Kashmir
3170
3411
11 Karnataka
8003
7256
12 Kerala
3
4
13 Madhya Pradesh
657
546
14 Maharashtra
3368
3094
15 Manipur
8
6
16 Meghalaya
17
18
17 Mizoram
1
1
18 Nagaland
2
4
19 Orissa
1765
1620
20 Punjab
436
220
21 Rajasthan
14585
10054
22 Sikkim
5
6
23 Tamil Nadu
5259
5593
24 Tripura
6
3
25 Uttar Pradesh
1905
1437
26 Uttaranchal
311
296
27 West Bengal
1462
1525
28 Andaman & Nicobar Islands
0
0
29 Chandigarh
0
0
30 Dadra & N Haveli
0
0
31 Daman & Diu
0
0
32 Delhi
11
3
33 Lakshadweep
0
0
34 Pondicherry
2
2
All India total
57494
61469
(Source:17th Livestock census, 2003)

Wool production and quality in different regions of India

No. Particulars North North Western Southern Eastern Peninsular
1 Sheep population (million)
20.36
3.45
19.80
4.6
2 Percent contribution
42.23
7.15
41.07
9.54
3 Wool production (million kg)
25.11
4.03
7.68
1.57
4 Percent contribution to total
65.40
10.50
20.00
4.10
5 Per capita production (kg)
1.23
1.16
0.38
0.34
6 Fineness (micron)
30.45
22.3
40.60
50-60
7 Medullation (%)
30.80
5.15
60.80
80-90
8 Burr content (%)
2-5
2-8
Below 5
1-3
9 Yield (washed) (%)
80-90
50-60
80-90
(Except Nilgiri)
85-90

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