Natural Alpine pastures known as Bahaks or Margs are the natural habitats of sheep who migrate from lower part of the State and graze there from May to October. Over the years, the pastures faced degradation due to continuous and indiscriminate grazing, extinction of superior genotypes of grasses and legumes, nomadic destruction, lack of economically viable technology for improvement of the pastures and above all the non-involvement of actual users for its protection and conservation.
Grazing Of Live Stock At Highland Pasture
For improvement of the pastures, aerial fertilization was once done. However, efforts are being made to seek special financial dispensation for development of pastures by implementation of programmes like conduct of aerialJmanual fertilization of pastures, eradication of toxic and obnoxious weeds, reseeding of Clover and other fodder crops, and plantation of fodder trees.
Training and Development of Staff:
Staff training and development is an integral part of the departmental strategy directed towards successful achievement of the goals set. Various training and development programmes are being conducted, organised and arranged for the departmental personnel with a view to sharpen their existing capabilities and acquiring new knowledge and skills in the field of sheep and goat rearing management.
Training modules have been devised for lower level field functionaries to meet their specific requirements on ground. It is mandatory for all in-service Shepherds having the requisite qualification and direct recruits viz; Stock Assistants and Flock Supervisors to undergo and successfully complete the training programmes as their future promotion prospectus hinges on it. The training is being imparted at the Sheep and wool Workers Training School established by the Department at Nowshera
Small ruminant Population (Sheep & Goat) of the State at 5.7 million is at present in an equilibrium with natural resource and an eco-balance is somewhat maintained, increasing livestock beyond certain point may be counterproductive and disturb the eco-balance besides depriving the livestock from adequate nutrition.
In this backdrop emphasis is to be laid on enhancement of productivity to increase domestic production of mutton chevon, wool and Goat milk. Availability of quality germplasm forms the basis of any such plan to enhance the productivity. The basic intrinsic inputs Germplasm, Nutrition, Healthcare have to be broadened and stimulated simultaneously to achieve the desired goal with excellent backup extension facilities. The integrated approach on development of these basic parameters shall form the basis of Perspective plan for Agriculture Policy vis-à-vis; the sheep husbandry sector.
However before embarking on the redrafting of Breeding Policy for development of small ruminants in the state the impediments/ bottlenecks, which have crept during the developmental phase in Sheep /Goat sector since the inception of the upgradation programme, have to be understood and addressed.
Areas Of ConcernA- GENETIC IMPROVEMENT
B- STRESS ON MUTTON
- Non importation of exotic germ plasm due to stringent health protocol restrictions
- Inbreeding at Govt. farms resulting in lowering of productivity viz economic traits thereof.
- Deficiency of genetically superior rams to maintain the achieved level of 63% cross bred and to bring the left over 27% under the ambit of cross-breeding programme.
Increased Demand of Mutton
- The share of Bovine meat in the total meat production in India is about 60% as against 15% from small ruminants (5% sheep+10% goat)
- Situation in J&K is reverse with people having special liking for mutton due to socio- cultural and religious taboos on beef and pork.
- Yawning gap between supply and demand of mutton- 41.37% requirement met through imports.
- Predominant autumn culling of livestock leading to bare minimum holdings resulting in scarcity of mutton during winter.
- Steady growth of small ruminants (1 to 2%).
- Shrinkage of grazing lands due to massive urbanization and encroachment of common village grazing lands.
- Restrictive movement at some highland pastures due to security reasons.
- Non- existence of organized system for pasture management.
- Encroachment of traditional migratory routes.
- Under utilization of fodder resources especially in orchard areas and from fodder trees.
- Sheep and goat population needs to be increased to a certain level, sustained in consonance with fodder resources and kept in harmony with natural resources.
- Conservation of native germplasm (breeds like Gurezi, Karnahi, Gaddi, Local Kashmiri, Changthangi, Changluk & Maluk).
WINTER – AN IMPEDEMENT FOR LIVESTOCK DEVELOPMENT
- Poor growth rate recorded between census 1997 and 2007 (0.4 % )
- Native goats poor in economic traits
- Goat sector ignored so far.
- Selective breeding of Khagani breed not undertaken.
- Pashmina goat ( a valuable asset) selective breeding not under taken.
UNDER UTILISATION OF UNTAPPED RESOURCES
- Combating severe winters result in increased inputs for livestock industry.
- Zero grazing available in Kashmir and Ladakh region during off season.
- Stall feeding of Sheep & Goat for 120 days.
- Housing requirement / infrastructure to protect the livestock.
- Poor growth due to nutritional stress during the months of October to next Mid May.
- Limited utilization of orchards for sheep farming under horti-pastoral system.
- Non diversion from traditional rearing mode and shifting to in-house management in urban areas.
- Non introduction of high fecundity genes.
- Non introduction of high yielding fast growing, early maturing muttonous breeds with good feed conversion ratio.
Suggestions for Integrated approach
- Pasture Development
In comparison to the national availability of 1.0 hectare to one livestock unit comprising of both large and small ruminants only 0.4 hectare is available to such single unit in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, as most of the areas are inaccessible. Further due to continued negligence of pastures, the existing level of biomass vis-à-vis its production is meager. This has additionally been reduced due to uncontrolled growth of obnoxious weeds and poisonous plants.
Further due to increase in livestock holdings over the years per capita availability of such biomass has drastically reached a disproportionate level.
The situation gets further deteriorated in view of the convergence of 1.5 million migratory sheep / goat of Jammu division on the pastures of Valley during summer migration.
The inadequacy of pastures so existing tells upon the growth of the animals by hindering the exploitation of the genetic composition of these animals in absence of optimal level of nutrition, thus resulting in decrease in wool and mutton production and economic loss to the sheep/ goat farmers and the State too.
A well organized programme needs to be formulated with particular thrust on;
- Demarcation / survey of pastures.
- Weed management.
- Improvement in soil fertility.
- Nomadic route survey and subsequent improvement.
- Forage seed requirement.
- Introduction of perennial grasses in conserved pasture lands.
- To stop further encroachment of local village pastures (Kha-charie).
- Formation of Unified Pasture Development Board of all the stake holders.
- Maintenance of eco- balance:-
- The life as a whole sustains in a balanced system with the available partners/ players.
- Humans/ Animals/ plants have to maintain an eco-balance for sustainability.
- Development i.e, increase in sheep / goat population should be in consonance/ harmony with ecological balance vis-à-vis fodder resources as any deviation or tilt beyond the permissible levels will have far reaching effects and prove counterproductive at times due to;
• Soil erosion.
• Overgrazing effects.
• Loss of top fertile layer.
• Multiplication of unwanted foliage/ obnoxious weeds.
Further constant shrinkage of grazing lands due to massive urbanization, encroachment of common village grazing lands (Kha-charie) and Security restriction especially in border areas needs attention.
- Re-drafting of breeding policy for small ruminants in J&K
63% improvement achieved in wool traits. 70% of wool exported to neighbouring states. The State has earned a niche in fine wool production.
Due to change in priorities a breeder friendly Breeding Policy needs to be adopted which should envisage;
The process of redrafting of Breeding Policy is underway.
- Thrust on mutton without scarifying gains wool.
- Genetic variation available within the local gene pool to be manipulated and manoeuvred.
- Horti-pastoral Development of orchard belt:-
The state has 2.45 lac hectares of land under orchards which has by and large remained untapped for fodder development. The utilisation of these orchards under the system can give a big boost to livestock development. Under the programme it is envisaged to introduce temperate perennial legume fodder seeds in phased manner to cover the available orchard land.
- Introduction of early maturing, fast growing muttonous breed:-
Pilot studies regarding introduction of Dorper breed- a muttonous breed with qualities of early maturity, fast growing; having higher carcass yield is underway at Sheep Breeding Farm, Panthal Jammu.
Consequent upon the success of Pilot study regarding acclimatization of the breed in the local Agri-climatic conditions and other influencing factors, the Dorper breed shall be launched on large scale for commercial mutton production.
- Provision of Optimal Veterinary Healthcare :-
- To provide veterinary healthcare facilities to uncovered sheep & goat population.
- To curtail morbidity and mortality with corresponding increase in sheep and goat population.
- To strengthen the existing disease management practices.
- To upgrade and strengthen the disease surveillance and investigation facilities.
- To increase the production of killed formal gel sheep pox vaccine (local strain).
- To create ambulatory veterinary services to reach out to the migratory flocks.
- Establishment of check posts at entry points to the State and Valley
- Optimal utilization of fodder resources:-
- Fodder grown in 0.60 lac hectares.
- By improvised managemental practices 1.00 lac hectares can be utilized for fodder production.
- Green fodder production to be increased by re-designing / re-scheduling the cropping sequences.
- Silage making.
- Preservation processes.
- Awareness of harvest and post harvest technologies.
- Use of chaff cutters and feed block machines.
- Utilization of foliage of fodder trees.
- Promotion of pelleted feed manufacturing units in public and private sector.
- Enrichment of straws / stovers:-
The bulk of livestock fodder comprises of Agriculture residues especially straws / stovers which are usually low in nutritive composition. Enrichment by urea/ molasses ( 2%) improves their critical nutrients through additional nitrogen ( protein) and increase fibre utilization.
In addition Dove tailing and synchronization of concerted efforts are required to be under taken for Agriculture Development in general.