Sheep and goat farming has a great scope in Sindh due to climatic conditions, canal network, forest areas, pastures within valleys, grass along canal and road sides, and efficient labour force.
The rearing of small animals has greater advantages over other livestock. This business not only supplements the farmers’ income but also compliments crop production by providing means of subsistence and employment in rural area. The province is home to many important sheep and goat breeds.
Small ruminants for various reasons play an important role in agriculture since they do not require costly inputs. Their meat, milk and the converted dairy products are valuable goods. The products of small ruminant such as wool and skin are of secondary importance. The small ruminant farming is an integral part of agricultural production system. These provide protein, particularly to those living in rural areas.
Goat and sheep flocks are maintained through the traditional production system. Their feeding requirement is met through grazing. Their main management is climate, vegetation, resources, disease control and feed supplement.
In a study, it was found that about 59 per cent animals are fed from fields, 20 per cent use stall feeding and 21 per cent grazing as well as stall feeding. About 51 per cent feeding is dependent on tree leaves, cut fodder and kitchen waste – 29 per cent on tree leaves and 20 per cent on cut fodder.
The major portion of milk is consumed by kids/lambs and the remaining quantity by the family. A very small quantity of milk is marketed after mixing it with cow and buffalo milk.
The sheep producers use traditional method of shearing i.e., cut by simple scissor. A majority of the 92 per cent respondents said that they shear their animal twice a year while eight per cent did it once. About 56 per cent sell wool on per sheep basis while 44 per cent on per kg base. On an average, sheep wool is sold for Rs8 per kg and Rs10 per animal.
Multiple birth rates indicate that 60 per cent of sheep give single birth while remaining of 40 per cent twin births. Same 60 per cent goats give twin births while 29 per cent single, whereas 11 per cent goat give birth to triplets.
Small ruminants are affected by bacterial disease with seven per cent reporting viral disease and six per cent, both bacterial and viral diseases in the study area. About 67 per cent get their animals vaccinated while 33 per cent are unaware of it.
Almost every household uses family labour for milking. Similarly, for manure gathering 38 per cent use family male labour and 14 per cent hire male, whereas 40 per cent use family female and eight per cent children.
Marketing comprises movement of livestock and their products (food and raw material) from the farm to final consumer. In case of products, the marketing continued through processing which changes the nature and form or use of the product. It includes processing, grading and packing.
The livestock markets are locally called ‘Mall Piri’ held weekly in nearby towns where buyers and sellers strike deals. Such markets are held daily in big cities located in consumption areas. These offer good business for brokers and agents of big traders and marginal traders. Producers often hesitate to sell their animals in these markets because of the exploitation by agents, transportation problem, huge expenses involved in the form of marketing charges and feeding and the time consumed during visits.
There are no standards to weigh livestock and their carcasses. The deal is struck through estimation which becomes the basis of price offered by a buyer. The brokers and agents are clever in bargaining while guessing the helplessness of a seller. Almost all livestock producers are simple and illiterate people.
A primary market is a patch of ground near a village where livestock from same or surrounding villages is brought for sale. These are also designated as local or producer market.
Secondary markets are located in towns to which livestock traded at village markets is brought for sale. These markets are also called transit markets. Local town committees control these markets.
Tertiary markets are located in large cities where animals are usually brought from secondary or primary markets. These are also designated as regional markets. Import and export of livestock occurs internationally from one country to the other from the national markets. The purchaser directly contacts the seller and negotiates the price without the help of intermediary, while at other times a broker serves as a catalyst for settlement of prices.
In Sindh, sheep and goat wealth is in the hands of poor people. Goat farming is carried out as a way of life instead at commercial scale. The goat farming units are not operated efficiently due to poor knowledge of modern practices. The system needs improvement.
Courtesy: The DAWN