Animal Sciences Research Program

Twenty million heads of sheep and goats in Balochistan constitute more than one-third of small ruminant population of Pakistan. These animals are the major livestock wealth of the Province that covers 34.7 million hectares, almost 44% of country’s land area. More than 80% people of the Province derive their livelihood directly or indirectly from small ruminant production. But these animals are underfed because of low forage availability in quantity and quality on the ranges and their overall productivity is very low.


Twenty million heads of sheep and goats in Balochistan constitute more than one-third of small ruminant population of Pakistan. These animals are the major livestock wealth of the Province that covers 34.7 million hectares, almost 44% of country’s land area. More than 80% people of the Province derive their livelihood directly or indirectly from small ruminant production. But these animals are underfed because of low forage availability in quantity and quality on the ranges and their overall productivity is very low. The major constraints in increasing small ruminants productivity are the harsh climate with low and erratic rainfall, cold winters and hot summers. Other constraints include poor flock management, animal diseases and health problems, lack of sufficient infrastructure, land tenure system and the rangeland management and control problems. The research work at AZRC for improving output of small ruminants’ production operations is being conducted in the light of this scenario. 


Studies on raising sheep and goats under grazing conditions with minimal supplemental feeding and monitoring changes in their performance under different ecological zones of the province 

Estimate cost-benefit ratio for raising range-based sheep and goats with minimal supplemental feeding and determine the type and requirements of supplemental feeds  

Assessment of different arid zone feeds and forages through in vivo and in vitro techniques 

Studies on the impact of different diseases on the productivity of range-based sheep and goats 


Productivity of moderately thin ewes improved to above 90% with flushing during breeding at AZRC Research Stations. 

Strategic supplemental feeding at private farmers’ flock level increased sheep productivity from 60-65% to more than 90% in poor rainfall years. 

Field surveys and lab work indicated 60-80% sheep/goats infected with internal parasites that lead to high mortality and morbidity rates. 

Health cover package (vaccination, drenching and dipping) reduced sheep mortality to almost one third (from 12 to 4%) 

Lamb fattening trials resulted in daily gain upto 250 grams by lambs of native breeds and FCC 1:4 to 1:6 were achieved. 


Seasonal incidence of internal parasites in sheep and goats in and around the Quetta. 

Assessing the warble fly infestation in Balochistan 

Assessment of skin damage due to different parasitic infestation in sheep and goats in Quetta. 

Breed evaluation of Harnai range-sheep under optimum nutritional and health management provision in Tomagh, Balochistan 


Performance of Harnai range-ewes under optimal feeding and health management conditions in Asghara (Ziarat dist) valley of Balochistan. 

Incidence of internal, external and blood parasites; and hydatid cyst problems in sheep and goats slaughtered at the Quetta, Kuchlak and Mastung slaughter houses. (Funded by Pakistan Science Foundation) 

Development of health, nutrition and breeding management package for increased output from range-sheep/goats production operation in Balochistan. (submitted to ALP for funding) 


Achievements 2006-07

Effect of winter supplementation on the performance of Balochi ewes grazing native rangeland in highland Balochistan (1988). 

A study was conducted on winter supplemental feeding of Balochi ewes and their performance in Kalat area of Balochistan. Eighty-two ewes were randomly divided into two groups of 40 and 42 animals. Two treatments (T1 and T2) studied were: 250 gm/animal/day of a 50:50 mixture of cottonseed cake and barley grain fed from Oct. to Dec. 18, 1988 plus grazing and 500 gm/animal/day of the same feed mixture fed in addition to grazing. Lucerne hay and wheat straw in a 50:50 ratio were provided to all the ewes for a period of one month @ 320 gm/animal/day to sustain them in severe winter. Same feeding levels to the same ewe groups were again fed from March 1 to May 27, 1989. Three breeding rams stayed with the flock from Nov. 1 to Dec. 13, 1988. Lambing took place from April 2 to May 12, 1989. Conception, lambing and mortality percentage was found different (P< .05) between T1 and T2 (22.5 vs 52.4%, 22.5 vs 52.4% and 12.5 vs 4.8%, respectively). Lamb birth weight (3.4 vs 3.2 kg) were similar for T1 and T2 but lamb weaning weights were found different between T1 and T2 (12.6 vs 14.8 kg). The ewes on T2 maintained higher body weights through out winter supplementation (flushing) and decrease in ewe mortality. Late-gestation and early-lactation supplemental feeding of ewes results in increases in weaning weights of their lambs.  

Fertility of range based Balochi ewes as influenced by improved nutrition in Zarchi area of highland Balochistan  (1989-92). 

Three experiments were conducted during range grazing scarcity period of winter, spring and part of summer, to study the effect of improved nutrition on Balochi ewes in highland Zarchi range area of Balochistan province. Experiment involved 48 ewes, of varying ages, split into three equal groups each allocated to a different treatment of range grazing only (TI), medium level of supplementation with range grazing (T2), and a high level of supplementation without range grazing (T3). There was no difference in conception and lambing and mortality rates among the three treatment groups. Lambs from T3 ewes had significantly higher birth and weaning weights than those from T1 and T2 ewes, whereas the lamb from the two latter groups did not differ in these parameters. Average body weight of T3 ewes was significantly higher than both T1 and T2 ewes from the 3rd fortnight onword, whereas that of T1 and T2 ewes differed only from the 5th to 13th fortnight of the experiment. 

Fourwing saltbush as winter maintenace forage for sheep in upland Balochistan (1990). 

Sixteen Harnai lambs were used in a completely randomized design to study the nutritive value of fourwing saltbush as a winter maintenance browse in comparison to native grazing with or without protein and energy supplementation at Tomagh Range Livestock Research Station, in Loralai district, Balochistan. The animals were divided into four groups of four lambs each. These four groups were assigned four treatments at random; fourwing saltbush grazing alone, range plus Lucerne hay (100 g/head/day), range grazing plus barley grain (100 g/head/day) and range grazing alone for ten weeks. The results indicated that the two range grazing plus supplementation treatments produced weight gains, which were not significantly different from each other (p<0.05). Both of these treatments yielded significantly higher weight gains (p<0.05) than did range grazing alone except for the last week of study. Fourwing grazing provided cumulative weight gains at 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 weeks which were not significantly different from the range grazing plus Lucerne hay treatment and gained an average 6 percent in body weight over the 10 weeks period of study. Results of this study suggest that under fourwing saltbush grazing alone, lambs do not only maintain their body weight but can also gain weight in winter. 

Impact of fourwing saltbush on feed and water intake and on blood serum profile in sheep (1991). 

Sixteen rams were used to evaluate the influence of varying levels of fourwing saltbush hay on feed and water intakes as well as the blood serum mineral status in a completely randomized design. The animals were grouped randomly in four groups with four animals each. The four groups were randomly allotted low, medium and high and very high levels of saltbush hay supplementation in addition to wheat straw. The animals were given fresh water ad libitum. Weekly body weight was recorded for each individual animal. Blood serum was collected for mineral contents. The experiment lasted for eight weeks. The inclusion of saltbush leaves in the diet showed a non-significant effect on the total dry matter intake at low, medium and high levels of saltbush, whereas at very high level the total dry matter intake declined. There had been also a significant increase in water intake for very high level of saltbush ration. Lower levels showed no effect on water intake. The animals maintained their body weight from one to week eight. No treatment by week’s interaction on potassium and  sodium levels was detected. However, higher levels of saltbush significantly increased the potassium and sodium contents in serum. Calcium contents were significantly lowered (P<0.01) with the inclusion of saltbush leaves in the diet. Phosphorus contents increased (P<0.05) with higher levels of saltbush. No clinical or sub-clinical toxicological symptoms were observed in the sheep with higher mineral contents.

Nutritive evaluation of fourwing saltbush in growth and digestibility trials with Harnai lambs in upland Balochistan (1990).

Twenty-four Harnai lambs 6 to 7 month old, weighing 16 ± 2kg were used in completely randomized design in growth and digestibility trials to study fourwing saltbush ration supplemented with cottonseed cake. The animals were divided at random into three groups of 8 animals each. Three isonitrogenous (10.5% CP) experimental rations containing: 1. wheat straw + lucerne hay (24:76), 2. fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens) + cotton seed cake (71:29), and 3. wheat straw + cotton seed cake (41:59)  were allotted to each group randomly. All the animals were taken out for grazing in a dormant native range for about 3 hours in the afternoon during the growth trial. At the end of 8 weeks lambs on ration 3 gained significantly (p<0.10) more weight compared to those on rations 1 and 2, which maintained their body weight. The crude protein digestibility of the fourwing saltbush based ration was comparable with the other two treatments (71 vs 70 and 71%). However, the digestibility of dry matter (41%), acid detergent fiber (13%) and neutral detergent fiber (22%) of this ration was significantly lower (p<0.10) than the other two diets. The results suggest that lambs can be maintained on fourwing saltbush during winter without significant loss in body weight with 30% extra protein concentrates supplementation.

Productivity of range-based Harnai ewes as influenced by improved nutrition in Tomagh, Balochistan (1989-92)

Under this study, three experiments were carried out during 1989 – 1992 to explore the production potential of indigenous sheep with improvement in their nutrition and management under the local harsh environmental conditions and define the animals’ supplemental feed requirements for optimum production. A 100% conception rate was observed in this experiment in all the three treatments. The lambing percentage in T2 and T3 was 100% and 93.75% lambing was observed in T1. These lambing rates are higher than 60-70% reported in surveys of this area. A significant difference (P0.05). Differences in birth weights of lambs from ewes under treatments T2 and T3 was non-significant (P>0.050) but these two treatments were different from treatment T1 in birth weight of lambs. The difference in fortnightly body weight of sheep indicates that the better nutritional management helped the animals to maintain their body weight although the difference in initial weight of animals under the three treatments was non-significant. Future studies would address the question of early and late breeding in the season with and without supplemental feeding.

Rainfed farming system and socio-economic aspects in Kalat division of Highland Balochistan (1991).

The objective of this study was to understand crop-livestock interactions and related socio-economic aspect in the area, to identify constraints in high productivity and to study farmers’ priorities and agricultural research opportunities. Ninety farmers were interviewed randomly from twenty-five villages at Kalat and Khuzdar districts during the month of September, 1988. The majority of the farmers in the region are smallholders and hinder the adoption of new technologies. Livestock husbandry is closely integrated with crop production and plays an important role in the farmers’ decision making process. Cropping intensity is much lower and yield of major crops is well below its potential level.

Lamb fattening under intensive feedlot conditions in Balochistan (1993).

Sixteen Balochi lambs 8 to 10 month of age weighing 18.4 to 33.2 kg were used for this trial conducted during 1993 at Animal Nutrition Research Unit (ANRU) of AZRC, Quetta. The lambs were randomly divided into eight groups in such a way that two lambs having almost similar live weights were put in one group. Each pair was then randomly assigned to one of eight fattening pens. Two experimental rations having similar metabolizing energy (ME; 2600 kcal/kg) but differing in CP levels was prepared. Four randomly selected groups served as control and received the basal ration A that contained 12 percent CP. Urea was included in ration B to increase the CP level of the basal ration to 17 percent. No difference (P>0.05) in the average daily gain and feed efficiency of lambs fed the two rations were observed. However, daily feed intake was higher for the lambs fed ration B with 17 percent CP.

Performance of Balochi lambs grazing Vicia villosa and barley pastures in winter (1993).

Intake and weight gain by sheep and forage production of five different forage species i. e., two vetch lines Vicia villosa, subspp. dasycarpa (Acc 683 and Acc Gilgit) and three varieties of barley (Arabic abiad, Frontier 87 and a local landrace) were studied at AZRC Farm, Quetta. The two vetches produced higher (P<0.05) forage yields during pre-flowering, flowering and maturity stages followed by two barley varieties whereas the local barley was lowest in forage production. During flowering stage, intake was higher for barley Arabic abaid followed by other species and local barley.  At maturity stage, intake was higher for barley varieties as compared to vetch species. Weight gain by sheep grazing on barley Arabic abiad was highest and these gain did not differ from barley Frontier 87 and vetch Acc Gilgit followed by vetch Acc 683 and local barley produced the lowest gains.

Evaluation of different exotic grass species in upland Balochistan (1994).

Eight cool-season and three warm-season exotic grass species were raised and evaluated for above ground dry matter biomass in Mastung and Tomagh areas in upland Balochistan. Tall wheatgrass and pubescent wheatgrass exhibited high dry matter biomass in southern upland region (Mastung) both in fall, 1989 and spring 1990. In north-eastern region (Tomagh), weeping lovergrass outperformed in dry matter biomass production, however, some other species such as tall wheatgrass, pubescent wheatgrass, thickspike wheatgrass, orchardgrass and steppe wildrye also exhibited encouraging results. Mixture of cool-season and warm-season grasses proved highly successful and showed promise to extend forage availability year round in upland Balochistan where winter forage deficit is a serious problem for livestock.

Nutritional and health management of small ruminants in the Dasht valley near Quetta, Balochistan (1995).

A diagnostic survey of Dasht valley was carried out in August, 1995 to take stock of existing situation and describe crop and animal production practices in the area so that a demonstration of AZRI (Arid Zone Research Institute) generated technologies at the sheep/goats farmers’ level could be undertaken for enhancing output of sheep and goats production operations. Small ruminant raising is the second most priority in the Dasht valley after crop cultivation and raised mainly to meet domestic milk, wool and meat needs, as an insurance against crop failure, unforeseen hazards, expected droughts and other emergencies and to serve as cash reserves. Animals depend on native range grazing, crop residues and contribution of each feed component to meet the nutritional requirements is almost 50%. Animals are allowed to go for range grazing for 4-5 hours daily in the morning and crop residues mostly wheat, maize, sorghum and onion straws are fed in the afternoon. Breeding starts in July August after harvesting wheat and barley crop and first lambing takes place in November-December. Next breeding starts in April May and second lamb crop is born in August September. Fertility varies from 70-80% in the area and twining is very uncommon in sheep (<1%) while it is frequent in goats particularly in breeds from Sindh and even triplets are common under intensive management. Prolificacy (no. of lamb born/no. of ewes lambing) is almost 100% in sheep and up to 120 to 130% in goats. Lambs/kids are weaned when 3-4 month old and usually weight 8-10 kg. Enterotoxaemia, pleuro-pneumonia, anthrax, mange and liverfluke and other internal parasites are prevalent. Mortality of adult stock varies from 10-12%. A few cases of FMD (foot and mouth disease) and piroplasmosis are also reported. Lamb mortality is high overall in Balochistan (30-40%); and ranges from 15-20% in the valley. This is a big loss to the farmers and needs special attention for improving overall sheep/goats productivity. Another important finding recorded during the survey was castration of male lambs/kids through open surgery conducted locally. Four to five percent cases get infected after this surgery. Veterinary services are insufficient in the area to carry out full vaccination and drenching program. Farmers usually approach Civil Veterinary Hospital, Quetta for urgent needs and medicines prescribed are purchased from city markets.

Value of barley grain and cottonseed cake as supplements to fourwing salt bush; and live weight gains and water consumption of sheep fed the salt bush diets (1996).

Fifteen sheep were used in a trial which compared the feeding value of whole barely grain and cottonseed cake a supplements to a basal diet of leaves of fourwing slatbush (Atiplex canesens). Diet SB (salt bush) contained 700 g (air dry matter) of salt bush alone, diet SB+BG (barley grain) contained 700 g SB with 400 g whole barley grain and diet SB+CS (cottonseed cake) contained 700 g SB with 400 g cottonseed cake. The digestibility of the dry matter of the diets SB (69%) and SB+CS (70%) were lower than diet SB+BG (76%). Sheep offered SB alone daily lost 80 g weight whereas those feed the other two diets gained 11 g (SB+CS) or 17 g (SB+BG) per day. Daily water consumption of the sheep offered the 3 diets was similar (P>0.05) but their water consumption was higher (P<0.001) than an other separate group of sheep offered daily 700 g wheat straw and 700 g barley grain. The results indicate that at the levels of SB feeding used, barley grain and cottonseed cake had similar value as supplements to fourwing salt bush harvested in summer. The addition of supplement to SB enabled sheep to gain some live weight. However, the presence of saltbush leaves in the diets resulted in higher water intakes by the sheep.

Parasitic infection of sheep and goats in Quetta and Kalat areas of Balochistan (1997-99).

Limited information gathered in the past is available regarding epidemiology of parasitic diseases in the Quetta and Kalat areas and this study was, therefore, conducted to document the available data and see any change in parasitic infection of small ruminants in the area over the last few years. Per-rectal samples from sheep and goats were collected from Quetta and Kalat (Kovak and Zarchi valley) areas of Balochistan to assess the endoparasitism. The quantitaive examination showed Trichuris globulosa, Marshallagia marshalli and Strongyloides papillosa infestation. Average number of egg per gram of faeces (EPG) ranged from 291-546. The infected animals were dull, depressed, and weak; and poor conditioned.

Prevalence of livestock diseases in Balochistan (2001).

To document the present status of livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, buffaloes, camels, horses, and asses/mules) mostly sheep and goats diseases in Balochistan, four years livestock disease occurrence/prevalence record/data (July, 1997 to June, 2001) were obtained from the Directorate of Animal Health, Livestock and Dairy Development Department, Government of Balochistan,  Quetta. These data/record were analyzed month-wise and year-wise using Microsoft Excel Computer package to evaluate distribution of livestock diseases throughout the study period. These data indicated seven types of livestock maladies prevalent in Balochistan. The highest number of animals/cases treated/recorded at the Civil Veterinary Hospitals of the Province were due to endo-parasites i.e., lungworms 2,507,683 (31.74%), wireworms 1,393,604 (17.64%) and liver-fluke 1,277,822 (16.17%) followed by ecto-parasites i.e., mange 702,132 (8.88%) and ticks 534,114 (6.76%), contagious diseases 214,065 (2.70%), non contagious diseases 396,270 (5.01%), systematic diseases 114,234 (1.44%), metabolic diseases 100,867 (1.27%) and other miscellaneous diseases 659,131 (8.34%) during the study period. Prevalence of almost all these diseases was higher in summer than winter and higher during the last year (2000-2001) than the previous years of the study (1997-2000). It seems that rise of temperature in summer, severe drought conditions prevailing in the province over the last 4-5 years, inadequate availability of feed in quality and quantity from the rangelands and poor health management lead to higher incidence of livestock diseases in Balochistan. Therefore, great devotion is required to treat these diseases under the present scenario as well as viewing the future prospects of livestock production in Balochistan.

Incidence of internal parasites in sheep and goats of Asghara valley in Ziarat district of Balochistan (2002)

A study was carried out at Arid Zone Research Centre, Quetta during July, 2001 to January, 2002 to monitor internal parasitic infestation in sheep and goats of Asghara Valley in Ziarat district. A total of 105 fecal samples were collected randomly from 10-15% animals in a sheep/goats flock directly from the rectum and analyzed for presence/absence and identification of parasitic ova. The centrifugal floatation method was used for the detection of parasite eggs in the feces. Results indicate that parasitic infestation was 57% in sheep and 43% in goats in the AZRC flock; and 80% and 60% in sheep and goats, respectively in private farmers’ flocks. The peak infestation (73% in sheep & 60% in goats) was recorded during August in the AZRC flock and during September (93% in sheep and 80% in goats) in private farmers’ flocks of the valley. Seven different types of internal parasites i.e., nematodes species: Strongyloides,Trichostrongylus, Haemonchus and Nematodirus trematode species: Fasciola hepatica, the cestode species: Moniezia and protozoa species: Eimeria were observed in the two flocks. It seems evident that there is need to disinfect the private farmers’ sheep/goats flocks in the valley more frequently against internal parasites to ensure minimum infestation level in these animals for enhancing their productivity.

Assessing the fattening potential of Balochi and Harnai male-lambs fed different protein and energy rations under confinement in Quetta (2002)

Two feeding trials were conducted to study the fattening potential of Balochi and Harnai male-lambs. Trial-I used 16 Balochi male-lambs, 8-10 months old weighing 18.4 to 33.2 kg divided into 8 groups with body-weights similar within a group. Four groups (8 lambs) were assigned at random to one of the two iso-caloric (2600 Kcal metabolizable energy (ME)/kg of feed) rations with 12% (A) or 17% CP (B). Lambs were fed the rations ad libitum for 5 week. Daily feed offered and refused was weighed and weight of the lambs was taken weekly. Weight gain by the lambs fed on ration A (189 + 29 g/h/d) or B (245 + 29 g/h/d) did not differ. More (P<0.05) feed was consumed by the lambs fed on ration B (1739 + 80 g/h/d) as compared to those fed on ration A (1446 + 80 g/h/d). Feed efficiency of the lambs fed ration A (7.9 + 1.4) or B (7.2 + 1.4) did not differ. It is concluded that male Balochi lambs, 8-10 month old fed on rations having 12 or 17% CP and 2600 Kcal ME/kg of feed make similar gains. Trial-II involved 16 Balochi and 16 Harnai male-lambs, 4-5 month old, randomly divided into 8 groups with 4 lambs of the same breed in a group. Two iso-nitrogenous (14% CP) rations A and B with 2300 or 2700 Kcal of ME/kg of feed, respectively were assigned to the 8 groups randomly such that there were two groups (8 lambs) of each breed on each ration. Rations were fed at libitum for 12 weeks and feed offered/refused was weighed daily and lambs were weighed weekly. Lambs fed on ration A gained weight (131 + 12 g/h/d) similar to that by lambs fed on ration B (150 + 12 g/h/d). Feed intake also did not differ by the lambs fed on ration A (1038 + 18 g/h/d) or B (1060 + 18 g/h/d). Balochi lambs gained more (P<0.05) weight (172 + 12 g/h/d) than Harnai lambs (127 + 12 g/h/d). Feed intake was also higher (P<0.05) by Balochi lambs (1215 + 18 g/h/d) than by the Harnai lambs (1016 + 18 g/h/d). It is concluded that Balochi lambs perform better than Harnai lambs fed similar rations.

Assessment of damage to skins and hides by external parasitic infestation in Balochistan (2002-03)

The prevalence of specific external parasitic diseases (warble fly, mites and ticks) that affect directly the quality of hides and skins was investigated in this study. For this purpose, information was collected from three sources i.e., i. warble fly infested cases recorded/treated in District Civil Veterinary Hospitals (DCVH) of Balochistan between January to December 2001, ii. direct physical observation of animal flocks, iii. Interviews of animal owners and skin dealers in Quetta, Kucklak and Mastung from August, 2002 to May 2003. Overall highest infestation (2.01%) by warble fly was recorded in native flocks while lower infestation i.e., 0.72%, 0.73% and 1.46% was recorded in slaughter-houses, non-local flocks and DCVHs, respectively. During the survey, overall highest (11.16%) tick infestation was recorded in non- local animal flocks while lower (4.19%) in native animal-flocks. Negligible mite infestation was recorded in native animal-flocks whereas non-local animal-flock were found free from this pest. Warble fly larvae and mites reduce animal skin/hide prices by 10-30% and 50-70%, respectively. The external parasitic infestations can be controlled and treated by dusting, dipping and administration of injectable medicines i.e., Poron solution, Cydectin and Ivergen injection with satisfactory results. To eradicate warble fly infestation, regular spraying and dusting of medicines in the affected animals with Trichlorfon, Segavon and Nagavan powder is effective in Balochistan. Similar practice was also carried out in the past and most of the warble flies were controlled in the Zhob area.  Provision of effective and low cost medicines against external parasitic infestation in livestock, adoption of proper animal health management practices and ban on illegal import/export of animals from/to neighbor countries is suggested as desired by the local livestock owners. The skin/hide dealers suggested price fixing on per square foot basis, introducing grading system and establishing a tannery for quality skin/hide production in Balochistan.


Figure 1. Warble fly larvae collected from a goat-skin

Figure 2. Inner side of a goat-skin perforated due to warble fly larvae


Technology Transfer

The absorption of these technologies by the livestock farmers in Kovak, Dasht and Asghara areas of highland Balochistan through the AZRC demonstration efforts have shown that:

Supplemental feeding of small ruminants, especially during winter forage deficit period has been adopted by the farmers of highland Balochistan.

Inputs for health coverage of small ruminants are being made and farmers are widely using anti-parasitic medicine for their sheep/goats.

The importance of clean and disease free housing of small ruminants is well realized by the farming community and dis-infection of sheds and barns is widely practiced now.

The importance of reproduction is being realized and use of quality and proto-type uniform color rams for breeding is on the increase among the farming community.


Key Reference :

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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