India is the sixth largest sheep and goat rearing country in the world. Since sheep provide wool, meat and skin as such play an important role in the Indian economy. There are 51 million sheep and 11 million goats in India.
Nearly 55% of India’s sheep are kept in the states of Rajasthan, A.E, H.E and hilly terrain of Uttaranchal. About five million people in this country are busy in rearing sheep, goats and rabbits.
1. The temperate Himalayan Region from J & K to H.E and Uttaranchal in H.E: Kulu, Kangra, Chamba districts and in J & K the goats of the valley are of superior quality. The notable breeds are Bhakarwal, Bhadarwah, and Rampur Bushir.
2. The arid North Western Region:
In this region are the states of Eunjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, M.E and U.E In this region a large variety breeds of sheep are domesticated. The prominent breeds include Jaisalmer, Malpuri, Fugal, Magra, Lohi, Marwari, Kutchi etc. These sheep are for wool.
4. Semi arid regions of Southern Peninsula:
Karnataka, A.E, T.N. and Kerala. Ncllore, Mavdya, Yalang and Bhandur etc. are low quantity wool sheep.
5. Humid E and NE India:
Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam and other neighbourly tiny state. These are also low wool quality yielding sheep.
It is estimated that about five million households in the country are engaged in the rearing of small ruminants and other allied activities.
The major factors for low productivity are poor exploitation of genetic potential of indigenous animals, low absorption of available technology, inadequate resources of feed and fodder, insufficient health cover, inadequate marketing and credit support, etc. The total production of wool in the country was nearly 460 lakh kg in 1999-2000.
A Central Sheep Breeding Farm with exotic breed of sheep has been established at Hissar. It has a breeding programme with Rambouilit breed as well as cross breeding for production of acclimatized exotic/crossbred superior rams. It has distributed 618 exotic/crossbred rams to different states during 1999-2000.
The Farm also trains officers and shepherds from different states in modern sheep management. Under the national ram/buck production programme and programme for rabbit development, Central assistance is being provided to State governments on 50 : 50 basis for strengthening sheep/goat/rabbit farms and state wool boards and to assist them in improving genetic potential of small ruminants.