Sheep Breeds of Jammu and Kashmir

  

        Favourable agro-climatic conditions and other natural endowments including rich alpine pastures made the sheep and goat rearing as the core activity of rural masses of the Jammu and Kashmir State from the times immemorial to play a vital role in the socio-economic up-liftment of the most weaker sections of the society viz Chopans, Gujjars , Gaddies, and Bakerwals. However, at that time, the economic returns from sheep and goat rearing were non-significant due to low productivity of the available genetic material.

       As the developmental activities related to sheep and goat were carried out in the State under the auspices of Animal Husbandry Department, no concrete sheep developmental programme could be under taken except some cross-breeding experiments/trials till 1962, when Sheep Breeding and Developmental Department was carved out of Animal Husbandry Department for look after of sheep husbandry Sector. The newly formed Department of Sheep Husbandry right from its inception laid maximum emphasis on cross-breeding programme which resulted in substantial progress in production of wool and mutton. With a view to improve quantity and quality of the traits of the indigenous sheep of the State up to desired level, it is essential to have knowledge of the indigenous material i.e. types or strains of sheep found in the State. Initially no survey of sheep in this regard has been made in the State. However, efforts made by some researchers are appreciable in this respect.

        Some types of breeds found in Jammu and Kashmir State are given below which is expected to serve useful purpose for those research workers and technocrats who are interested to know about the types of sheep present in the State.

 

GUREZI

Photo Credit - Dr. Mubashir Ali Rathar

Habitat Gurez Tehsil of Kashmir.
Characteristics

The Gurezi Sheep is the biggest among the  Kashmir breeds. Animals are coarse woolen dairy animals, usually white and polled. The majority of sheep are hornless. However, recently some animals even with more than two horns (Poly-ceros condition) were observed. These sheep have short ears and wool in predominantly white. However, a number of coloured sheep are also maintained for getting wools of natural shades of grey, black and brown. The animals graze rich grasses at 8000 ft in summer but are stall fed in winter .

Wool Yield 1.250 - 1.500 kilograms per annum.
Wool Quality Medium fine about 6 inches long and lacking kemps.
GADDI

Habitat Kistwar and Baderwah Tehsils of Jammu and Kulu, Chamba and Kangra Valleys of Himachal Pradesh.
Characteristics

Gaddies are hill tribes who are traditional sheep breeders raising this breed. These sheep are small in size but have sturdy legs with short tails and ears. They live on scrub forest during winter and in summer they migrate to Paddar and other neighbouring ranges. The fleece is generally white with brown coloured hair on the face. The rams are horned and ewes hornless.

Wool Yield  0.817 kg per annum.
Wool Quality Medium fine with average fiber dia-meter 34.90 micron (u) and staple length 10.10 centimetres. The wool in good sheep is lustrous and under coat is used for manufacture of kulu shawls and blankets.
KASHMIR VALLEY
Habitat Kashmir Valley at an attitude of 5000-6000 ft
Characteristics

Animals are smaller in size with predominantly coloured fleece yielding an admixture of medium fine and coarse wool. These animals have short tails with males having small horns.

Wool Yield 0.860 + 0.010 kg per annum
Wool Quality Admixture of coarse and medium fine with fibre diameter and staple length varying from 28 to 34 u (micron) and 8 to 10 centimetres respectively.
KARNAHI

Photo Credit - Dr. Altaf Peerzada

Habitat Karnah Tehsil at an attitude of 1200-4600 meters.
Characteristics

The animals are robust, having long face and a prominent nose. Rams have big curved horns. The fleece is relatively fine though shorter than that of Guresi, breed of sheep.

Wool Yield 1.000 - 1.250 kg per annum.
Wool Quality Medium fine wool having average fiber diameter of 29.70 u (micron) and staple length of 9.36 centimetres.
BAKERWALI

Photo Credit - Dr. Mubashir Ali Rathar

Habitat

Migratory sheep reared by the nomadic tribe called Bakerwals. Their movements include high ranges of Pirpanchal mountains, Kashmir Valley and other low lying hills of Jammu and Kashmir. Being migratory these sheep live in   open through out the year.

Characteristics

These sheep are hardly and sturdy and are excellent climbers in-spite of its big bulk. The males are generally horned and ewes hornless. Some flocks are fat tailed. Ears are generally long, broad and dropping. These sheep grow coloured coarse wool, which is used locally for manufacture of coarse lohis (Small blankets).

Wool Yield 1.600 kg per annum.
Wool Quality Coarse wool of 6 inches long and 1/679 inch in diameter.
POONCHI

Photo Credit - Dr. Mubashir Ali Rathar

Habitat Poonch and surrounding places situated at a high elevation in the State.
Characteristics

Animals are long sized, mostly hornless with short tail but thick at the base. Ears are generally short and colour is predominantly white. These sheep are best for wool production and are raised on rich summer pastures and are stall fed during winter on stored grasses and fodders.

Wool Yield 1.6 kg per annum..
Wool Quality Medium fine with average fiber diameter 32 u (micron)