Commercial Sheep Farming:
Introduction of Commercial Sheep Farming:- Commercial sheep farming is a process of rearing sheep for commercial production of meat, milk and wool (leather). Commercial sheep production is increasing day by day as the demand for meat is growing. Youth and other people from different professions getting into sheep farming business as this has huge scope of getting profits and filling the local/rural employment needs. This also lots of economic importance in India as this provides excellent income for marginal and landless farmers. In order to be successful in commercial sheep farming, one should have proper sheep farming business plan before rearing the sheep on large scale. The sheep business plan should include breed type, basic infrastructure (House/Shed), number of animals, feed management, Insurance, vaccinations (Disease control) and other medical information and marketing. There are two main programs involved in sheep farming; Ram Program and Ewe program. Ram program is raising only male sheep for meat purpose and sell them when they attain certain weight. Ewe program is meant for kidding. Ewe program will have more maintenance as pregnant sheep and newly born kids needs more care in terms of nutrition/feed and medical attention. If you are going for Ram program where only male sheep is being raised, have proper batch plan meaning that one batch sheep flock should be ready for marketing when other batch enters into your farm.
Benefits of Commercial Sheep Farming:- Sheep farming plays major role in economy of the country by providing wool, meat, milk, skins and manure especially in arid, semi-arid and mountain regions. There are many advantages of sheep farming.
- Sheep does not require heavy investment and set up. When compared to other livestock, sheep requires less labor and maintenance.
- Sheep can be multiplied very fast with breeding which avoids the need of buying sheep in the future.
- Sheep is suitable for both stall-fed and open grazing. They easily convert green grass into meat, wool and manure.
- Sheep eat all kinds of grass including weeds in agriculture/orchard fields. Sheep are natural weed destroyers. Sheep produce manure which can be used in organic farming and give scope of earning extra income.
- Sheep will not damage any trees in the farm/field. Home grown silage (fodder made from green crops) can be fed to sheep in the farm.
- Commercial sheep farming provides employment to rural population. As sheep meat has excellent demand, there are no issues with sheep marketing.
- Sheep farmers can get loan from banks which are being re-financed by NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development).
- Sheep sale provides more profits especially during some festivals like Eid and Dussehra.
How to Start a Commercial Sheep Farming:- One can start a sheep farm with couple of animals and expand to large scale. Here are some tips to start a sheep farm.
- First and foremost, decide the type of program meaning whether the farming is intended for meat purpose (ram program) breeding or kidding (ewe program) purpose.
- If possible attend sheep training programs conducted by state animal husbandry or agriculture universities.
- Read sheep farming blogs for articles and watch YouTube videos to have basic knowledge of sheep farming.
- Go to nearest farms to clarify any doubts and observe farm management practices.
- Select high kidding percentile sheep breeds, so that they can be multiplied very fast.
- Decide whether the sheep rearing is stall-fed or semi stall-fed or open grazing. If it is stall fed, grow your own green crops and make silage.
- Prepare your basic sheep farming business plan with all the information required including bank loan.
- Construct house/shed and buy feeding equipment, Grass cutting machine, weighing scale. Etc.
- Buy healthy sheep breeds only from certified sheep growers.
- Hire a veterinary doctor well before starting a sheep business so that he can guide in selection of healthy animals and vaccinations.
- Put a proper marketing plan in place to sell the sheep in bulk.
Location for Commercial Sheep Farming:- Selection suitable location also plays major role in commercial sheep farming. Location should be having good and clean water with proper ventilation. Make sure the location has road approach for easy transport of sheep. It is better to select a location nearer to local markets. Location should be free from any predators like country dogs/wolfs.
Sheep Breeds for Commercial Sheep Farming:- Selection of sheep breed is vital for successful sheep farming. There are many sheep breeds available in India regions. The following list of sheep breeds are available to specific region in India.
- Eastern Region: Balangir, Bonpala, Chottanagpuri, Ganjam, Garole and Tibetan.
- North Temperate Region: Bhakarwal, Karnah, Kashmir Merino, Changthangi, Gaddi, Gurez, Poonchi and Rampur Bushair.
- North-Western Arid & Semi-Arid Region: Chokla, Magra, Malpura, Marwari, Hissardale, Jaisalmeri, Jalauni, Kheri, Muzaffarnagari, Nali, Patanwadi, Pugal, Sonadi and Munjal.
- Southern Peninsular Region: Bellary, Coimbatore, Kilakarsal, Madras Red, Mandya, Mecheri, Nellore, Nilgiri, Daccani, Hassan, Kanguri, Rammand White, Tiruchy Black and Vembur.
Construction of House (Shed) for Commercial Sheep Farming:- A well-constructed sheep house ensures successful commercial sheep rearing. Sheep shed should be built in such a way that abundant air flow and ventilation pass through. Based on your budget, sheep house can be built either with concrete and cement or with wood. Keep house floor always dry by cleaning the floor frequently. The size of the sheep house depends on number of animals. Usually an adult sheep requires 15 to 20 sq. feet. Build fencing around the sheep house to prevent them from predators. In case of stall-fed sheep, feeders and drinkers should be placed in shed. One can built these with cement as part of shed construction.
Feed Requirement in Commercial Sheep Farming:- Feed formulation and planning for feed in drought conditions are important. If you own the land, grow any green crops like maize, millet and grams. Make home grown silage by using these green crops. This silage can be stored and used when there is no feed available. For silage making process click here. Feed your sheep with fresh and nutritious food. You can buy nutrient and mineral blocks in the market to feed along with regular fodder. Pregnant sheep and kids need more nutritious food. Provide fresh water and make sure to check weight and animal behavior on regular basis.
Diseases in Commercial Sheep Farming:- Controlling seasonal diseases and un-expected disease is mandatory to decrease the mortality. Hire a veterinary doctor and make him visit your farm every week to check for problems. Always isolate sick animals from the flock until they recovers.
Vaccination in Commercial Sheep Farming:- Timely vaccinations will ensure the healthy growth and reduce mortality rate. Initial vaccinations should be given before entering into farm. Subsequent vaccination should be followed based on recommendation of veterinary doctor. For vaccination schedule in sheep, click here.
Management Tasks in Commercial Sheep Farming:- Best management practices are required to be successful in sheep farming. Providing good feed formulation, timely vaccinations, selling the livestock at suitable age are part of successful sheep farm business.
Insurance for Commercial Sheep Farming:- Any business is risky without coverage. It is advised to insure all the sheep in commercial sheep business. There are insurance companies in India which cover the sheep farm. Contact United India Insurance Co. Ltd, the Oriental Insurance Company Limited or the New India Assurance Company Ltd for more information about sheep insurance.
Subsidies, Bank Loans in Commercial Sheep Farming:- There are many subsidies and schemes available for commercial sheep farming business in most of the states in India. Basically, NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development) is an apex development bank with a mandate for facilitating credit flow for promotion and development of agriculture including livestock. In order to get bank loan, sheep farmers should apply in the nearest branch of a Commercial, Co-operative or Regional Rural Bank. Farmers should prepare a project report for sheep farm (Bank faculty will help you to fill the application farm and in preparing sheep farming project report). You can also contact NABARD to prepare the project report on behalf of you. Typically this project report will include breeding animals, construction of sheds, and purchase of equipment. After submitting project report, bank will take the audit the report by visiting the farm location based on techno parameters in project report. After ensuring technical feasibility and economic viability, corresponding bank will approve the scheme and payments will be made in stages against creation of specific assets such as construction of sheds, purchase of equipment and sheep. Generally Loan interest will be 10 to 12 % (annually). The repayment of tenure would be 5 to 6 years. However, bank does not bear entire project cost. Sheep farmers should make some percent of down payment. Usually small farmers will pay 5% , medium farmers pay 10% and large scale farmers pay 15% as down payment under NABARD guidelines.
Bottom Line of Commercial Sheep Farming:- With proper sheep business plan and well-management practices, commercial sheep farming is defiantly a lucrative business.