U’khand moves towards merino wool, 240 Australian sheep reach state
Uttarakhand has moved one step further towards enhancing wool production with the arrival of 240 Australian merino sheep. These sheep produce wool that is not only much better in quality than the wool from native breeds but also produce it in quantities considerably larger than the yield from native breeds. With this, the state government expects to enhance the income of sheep rearers by up to 40 per cent in a few years.
Speaking on the occasion, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said that the procurement of the Australian merino sheep was a revolutionary and progressive step. The development this will bring about will prove to be a boon for the farmers and the state. He said, “This change was long needed. Our wool enterprises depend on imported wool. As we start producing merino wool, the dependence on import will decrease and our economy will improve too.”
Animal husbandry secretary R Meenakshi Sundaram informed that under the National Livestock Mission (NLM), Rs 8.5 crore was allocated for procuring the Australian merino sheep. He said that currently there are 7,000 families in Uttarakhand which are involved in sheep rearing. The state currently produces about 558 metric tonnes of wool per year. However, the productivity of the native sheep breeds is quite less at about two kilogrammes wool per shearing. This wool is coarse and carpet quality. On the other hand, the merino sheep provide up to seven kilogrammes of fine quality wool per shearing. While the wool from native breed has a fibre diameter of 22-40 micron, the one from merino sheep has a fibre diameter of 17-19 micron. While the raw native breed wool sells for about Rs 30 per kilogramme, the merino wool auctioned costs about Rs 750 per kilogramme in Australia with the rate reaching up to Rs 1,000 per kilogramme on reaching India. Having arrived in Uttarakhand a couple of days ago, the 240 sheep including 40 rams and 200 ewes are under quarantine at the state sheep breeding centre at Kopaddhar in Tehri. The state will breed these sheep for three generations, after which the rams will be exchanged with their native breed counterparts owned by local rearers. Sundaram further informed that it was 25 years ago when a step was taken for improving the state’s sheep breed. In undivided Uttar Pradesh during 1993-94 Rambouillet sheep were sourced from America but the experiment was not successful. Now, using the 240 Australian merino sheep as base stock, the state will breed the sheep and then distribute these among farmers after the third year. After that the state would be in a position to produce about 400 to 500 metric tonnes of merino wool per year. He said.
The State minister for Animal Husbandry, Rekha Arya, Gangotri MLA Gopal Singh Rawat, Australian merino breeders Mathew Coddington and Ben Watts along with Uttarakhand sheep and wool development board chief executive officer Dr Avinash Anand were also present on the occasion.
Friday, 27 December 2019 | PNS | Dehradun
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