It is generally believed that nations having more livestock resources are more prosperous. Sheep is a class of livestock reared from the time immemorial by the man kind, and having character of utilizing waste and barren lands where other Agriculture activities are not possible.
Dr. G.A.Bandey---a legend:
Born in the year 1918 in village Branwar Tehsil Chadora, District Budgam, Dr. Bandey completed his school education in Srinagar and did his F.Sc from S.P.College Srinagar. He joinedBombay Veterinary College in the year 1940 for training in Veterinary Sciences. After graduating from the said College, he joined the erstwhile Veterinary Department as Veterinary Assistant Surgeon. He worked with devotion and dedication for about six years at different places.
Thereafter, he was posted as Veterinary Assistant Surgeon in the Sheep Breeding and Research Farm Reasi/Banihal to assist Dr. D. N. Koul, then officer in-charge of the said farm.
Dr. Bandey made his mark as officer in-charge Sheep Breeding Farm Reasi/Banihal where he worked for about eleven years and was deputed to Australia for training in sheep and wool research. On his return from Australia, he was appointed Dy. Director, Sheep cum Animal Husbandry Leh, Ladakh. In the year 1964, Dr. Bandey took over as Head of the J&K Sheep Husbandry Department
and held the said post till 1976 when he was appointed Advisor to Government, Sheep Husbandry Department. He discharged his duties as Advisor to Govt. with aplomb till his retirement in 1978. Thereafter, Dr. Bandey continued to work for the sheep development in various capacities till he breathed his last on 26th May 1996.
Dr. Bandey has given a new direction to sheep development in the State. He was the brain behind evolution of Kashmir Merino breed of sheep in the State. In recognition of his remarkable achievements in taking sheep husbandry sector in the State to new heights, he was conferred I. A. S in 1974-75 and awarded Gold Medal in 1978. Above all, he was awarded the country's highest civil award viz; Padamshri in honour of his contribution and dedication in the field of sheep development.
Kashmiries have since ancient times reared Sheep for supplying warmth, clothing, mutton and manure to them. The original Sheep included non descript Karnahi, Gurezi, Kashmir Valley, Gaddi & Bhadarwahi and they would regard them up to age of four years as destined for wool production and in time of dire necessity or on occasion of rejoicing that it was utilized for meat. The wool was coarse pigmented and little in quantity, which was hand spun to yarn for making 'Chaddars' & 'Pattu' and some of it for making rugs or namdas.
It was in 1930's, the then Maharaja of the state paid an attention towards the Husbandry practices & on his invitation some experts from England explored the environment of the state as congenial for Sheep Farming and recommended importation of specific breeds for up gradation of local livestock.
Nature has bestowed the state of Jammu & Kashmir with mountains ranging from Shivaliks in Jammu, the majestic Pirpanchal range, the alpine heights of Kashmir & the high mighty Himalayas in Ladakh. As per an estimate an area of 0.3 million hectors is under alpine & subalpine pastures in J&K Himalayas. Locally called as Behaks , these long stretches having dominant grass cover are found from tree line to the snow line over altitudes of 12000 feet. Some of the famous Bahaks are Tosamaidan, Pehjan, Gangbal, Jamshidi, Dugwan Sekiwas, Badipathri, Butapathri, Hassankhal etc. These beautiful meadow lands along with temperate & Semi-arid climate of the valley make it a place highly suited for Sheep rearing especially the fine wool breeds of sheep.
To exploit the resources & for development of sheep in the state, the Department of Sheep Husbandry was established in early sixties with an objective to give a boost to quality sheep farming, increase wool and mutton production & improve economic condition of its farmers. Cross breeding, which had already started before 1947, got momentum under the dynamic supervision of Late Dr. G. Ahmad Bandey; who has been called as 'father of Sheep Husbandry in the State' & latter conferred with Honorary IAS & Padamshree for his meritorious & noble work in the field of Sheep Development in the State.
The National Agriculture Commission recommended development of fine wool breeds in the state. Local Kashmir valley ewes were crossed with Australian Merino Rams & F1 Ewes were bred to Delain Rams of USA. F2 were bred among themselves after proper selection on the basis of wool quality & body weight. The matting among F2 generation continued till a breed with steady & uniform characters evolved which was named as 'Kashmir Merino'.
The breed is comparable to some of the finest wool breeds of the world with fiber diameter of 20-24 Microns, besides attaining higher birth weaning & adult body weight.
The Department established sheep breeding farms at different locations for under taking cross breeding & other research programmes on scientific lines. Rams are being produced in these farms for serving the private flocks for their up gradation. Presently the Department runs 8 such farms in the various districts of the valley.
Simultaneously sheep Extension Centers were opened at length & breadth of the state to facilitate cross breeding & genetic improvement of local livestock, and other technical programmes like Castrations, Lamb markings, Docking, Health cover, Mechanical shearing & Education of farmers about Scientific farming practices. The Department has so far distributed about 29000 breeding rams produced in its farms for crossbreeding in private flocks. Importation of livestock was also made on many occasions & breeds like Russian Steveropol , Rambouillet, Corriedale & Merino's were imported from countries like USSR, USA & Newzealand for introducing the blood into the local livestock. Corriedale a dual purpose breed known for producing more wool and lamb has been introduced in belts of Shopian and Sonawari and reared in orchards and silvipastoral practices are encouraged.
In Kashmir a semi migratory system of sheep rearing is practised with the flocks migrating to sub alpines & alpines from May to November
Villagers engage local shepherds or chopans for rearing their flocks during these months. The highland Pastures act as paradise for sheep flocks for having highly nutritious & relishable grasses & herbage.
Sheep grazing is seen as the only activity on these long stretches of Meadow lands & the flocks love to be under open sky day & night on these pastures. On return in the Autumn the flocks are heavy and fatty and fetch more prices to the farmers.
Department during summer months establishes its camp at the alpine pastures to provide Veterinary aid and technical cover to the flocks.
The job at these stations is extremely difficult, as the staff has to combat highly inclement weather conditions, chilly cold and at times wrath of wild beasts.
Livestock is stall fed during the winter months & kept housed. This is the most expensive and laborious period for the farmers..
The livestock quality & quantity both have shown a steady improvement & the state is producing the finest wool in the country. Farmers have been wooed towards modern sheep farming by education & providing incentive & subsidies to them.
These traits are being used as important parameters for formulating breeding plans in Government farms and private flocks.
Sheep husbandry department department came into existence in the year 1962 with the main objective of promoting sheep and goat development in the state having sufficient scope and potential owing to bountiful pastures and meadow lands presenting nutrient grasses and herbage for the pastoral activities. The department so established was headed by a Director with a Deputy Director for each Jammu and Kashmir divisions. In late seventies a major expansion took place with the creation of joint Directors, Deputy and Assistant Director level officers. Latter in 1982 department was bifurcated with separate Directorates for the two divisions and of late in 2006 Block veterinary offices headed by Block veterinary officers were established.
Sheep husbandry Department Kashmir is Headed by Director the major head of the department with its establishment at agriculture complex Lal Mandi Srinagar. The Director has under its kind control two major wings :
- Government Farms headed by a Joint Director---The Joint Director Farms
- Field organizations headed by a joint Director-----The Joint Director Extension. Besides two more establishments work under the direct control of the Director viz
- Disease investigation laboratory Nowshera headed by a Deputy Director and Stock Assistants Training Class, Nowshera, Srinagar headed by Principal a deputy Director level officer.
JOINT DIRECTOR FARMS
The joint Director farms controls the Sheep Breeding farms of the department and has its office establishment at Lalmandi Srinagar. The Sheep Breeding Farms of the department maintain the quality germ plasm and its multiplication is carried out adopting all the scientific procedures. Breeding Rams having good genetic make up are produced in these farms for their breeding utility in private livestock of the farmers through field organizations of the department.
Joint Directorate of farms controls the following Farms and the establishments of the department
JOINT DIRECTOR EXTENSION
- Sheep Breeding Farm Daksum: The Farm is headed by a Deputy Director and is situated at Daksum in District Annantnag about 85kilometers. from Srinagar. The farm maintains Merino flocks and the present livestock strength is 1501.
- Sheep Breeding Farrm Dachigam: The Farm is headed by a Deputy Director and is situated at Dachigam in district Srinagar about 25 kms. From Srinagar. The farm maintains Merino flocks and has been a very important farm for the department as the major work pertaining to cross breeding and development of Kashmir Merino has been carried out in this farm . The present live stock strength is 671.
- Sheep Breeding Farm Goabal: The farm is headed by an Assistant Director a Deputy Director level officer and is situated at Gaobal, Kangan in district Ganderbal about 50 kilometers. from Srinagar. The farm has its history to pre 47 era when Mera Ben the adopted daughter of Gandhiji lived there and maintained some cows, goats and sheep. The farm was latter established as a sheep farm by the department in sixties. The farm maintains mainly Merino flocks. Dorper crosses newly introduced mutton breed is also maintained on experimental basis in the farm and its performance is studied. The present live stick strength is 1187.
- Sheep Breeding Farm Kralpathri: The farm is headed by an Assistant Director a Deputy Director level officer and is located at Kralpathri in central district Budgam about 45 kilometers. From Srinagar. The farm maintains Merino flocks and the present livestock strength is 956.
- Sheep breeding Farm Zawoora: The farm is headed by an Assistant Director a Deputy Director level officer and is located-at Zawoora in hill district of Shopian some 55 kilometers. From Srinagar. The farm maintains mostly corriedale and merino flocks. The present livestock strength of the farm is 594.
- Sheep breeding farm Hardshiva : The farm is headed by an Assistant Director a Deputy Director level officer and is located at Hardshiva sopore in District Bandipora about 60 kilometers from Srinagar. The farm maintains cross bred and merino flocks. The present livestock strength is 623
- Sheep Breeding Farm Kewa: The farm is headed by an officer incharge a Block Veterinary level officer and is located at Kewa Qazigund in district Kulgam about 70 kilometers . From Srinagar. The farm maintains merino sheep and the present sheep strength of the farm is 481.
- Sheep Breeding farm Poshnar: The farm is headed by an Assistant Director a Deputy Director level officer and is situated at Poshnar Handwara in frontier District of Kupwara.The farm maintains merino sheep and the present livestock strength is 345
- Angora Rabbit Farm Wussan: The farm is headed by an assistant Director a Deputy Director level officer and is located at Wussan Pattan in District Baramulla 30 Kms. From Srinagar. The farm is established for development of wool fur and meat type rabbits. The present livestock strength of the farm is-----
- Goat Farm Arin Dardpora: The charge of the farm remains additionally with some other offcer as no post of officer is sanctioned for the farm.It is located at Arin dardpora in district Bandipora some 70 kms. From Srinagar. The farm maintains local ,alpine ,Bakerwali and some Beetal goats. The present livestock strength of the farm is 152.
- Fleece Testing Laboratory: This laboratory is located at Nowshera Srinagar and is headed by Fleece testing officer a BVO level officer. The laboratory is meant for analysis of wool samples with respect to fineness, fibre length,crimps medullation and greese etc. These are the important parameters for determining the quality of wool and applied for devising Breeding plans.
Joint Director Extension has its office establishments at Lalmandi Srinagar and controls all district/Block organizations of the department. These organizations through sheep extension centres execute all the technical programmes like cross breeding, disease prophylaxis, treatments and other managemental activites in the private flocks of the farmers.Each District organization is headed by a District sheep Husbandry officer ( a Deputy Director level officer) who controls Block Vterinary offices,one for each NES block. Each block veterinary office is headed by a Block Veterinary Officer who runs the administration of the jurisdiction in the block. Each block has varying number of sheep extension centres depending upon size of the block and the sheep and goat population. Each sheep extension centre is manned by a stock assistant/ Flock supervisor and one or two assistant stock men and has the jurisdiction of eight to ten villages with a minimum sheep population aggregating to two thousand In these villages.
The District sheep husbandry organizations under the control of joint Director Extension are as under:
DISEASE INVESTIGATION LABORATORY
- District Sheep Husbandry Organisation Srinagar: The organization has one block veterinary office and 11 sheep extension centers. The total number of Government breeding Rams in the organization for meeting the breeding requirements of private flocks is 137.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organisation Ganderbal: The organization has four block veterinary offices and 26 sheep extension centers. The total number of Govt. breeding Rams in the private flocks of the district is 261.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organisation Budgam: The organization has eight block veterinary offices and 54 sheep extension centers. The total number of Govt. breeding Rams in the private flocks of the district is 353.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organisation Annantnag: The organization has six block veterinary offices and 54 sheep extension centers. The total number of Govt. breeding Rams in the district flocks is 452.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organization Kulgam: The organization has six Block veterinary offices and 48 sheep extension centers. The total number of Govt. breeding Rams in the district is 313.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organization Pulwama: The organization has four Block veterinary offices and 27 sheep extension centers. The total number of Govt. Rams in the private flocks of the district is 337
- District Sheep Husbandry Organization Shopian: The organization has two block veterinary offices and 26 sheep extension centers. The total number of Government breeding Rams in the flocks of the district is 216.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organisation Baramulla: The organization has twelve block veterinary offices and 69 sheep extension centres.The total number of Government Rams in the flocks of the district is 699.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organisation Bandipora: The organization has four block veterinary offices and 46 sheep extension centres.The total number of Government Rams presently in the district flocks is 353.
- District Sheep Husbandry Organisation Kupwara: The organization has twelve block veterinary offices and 77 sheep extension centers. The total number of Government Rams in the district flocks is 437.
The disease investigation laboratory is located at Nowshehra Srinagar and meets the requirements of disease investigation and diagnosis in private and Government live stock .The laboratory has different sections viz, Bacteriology,Parasitology,Pathology,Virology,Epidemiology,Nutrition and experimental Animal House sections .Besides, the laboratory in its Biological section manufactures Formalin killed Sheep pox vaccine used very effectively against the disease in the field.
STOCK ASSISTANT TRAINING SCHOOL
The school is located at Nowshehra, Srinagar and is meant for imparting nine months basic training to paravets both in service as well as the direct recruits, which qualify them to serve as Stock Assistants in the department. Besides various refresher courses for updating the knowledge and skills are also conducted in the school.