ALTHOUGH there is a strong need in Pakistan for wool and mutton development, no serious efforts have so far been made in this regard because of resource constraints.The province of Sindh possesses 16 per cent of sheep population in the country which are kept mainly for their meat.
Sheep generally breed once annually with total 80 per cent fertility. Mortality in lamb ranges between 10 to 15 per cent according to climate and it ranges between 5 to 10 per cent annually. It is the only animal which serves multiple purposes suitable in deserts and hilly areas where other animals fail to thrive, mainly due to lesser water and fodder availability.
It is estimated that mutton and wool losses due to mortality is approximately 10 per cent whereas production losses due to improper feeding and parasitic diseases (both ecto and endo-parasitic) is not less than 30 per cent.
The losses of wool are estimated up to 20 per cent due to faulty shearing as about 1/4 wool is left over body of sheep. The quality of skin is also lowered due to the fact that many cuts are left over the skin due to improper shearing.
It is estimated that sheep have increased in numbers by more than 41 per cent during the period from 1986 to 1996. However, profitability has not increased due to lack of knowledge of breeding, management, nutrition, disease control measures, drenching against endo-parasitic and dipping against ecto- parasitic diseases.
The district Tharparkar is richest in sheep population, which possesses 40 per cent of the province’s sheep population and is most suitable for sheep and wool development. Other such areas in the province are those of Nara area of Khairpur and Kohistan of Dadu.
The Kooka, Kachhi and Pak-Awasi breeds in Sindh are the most promising for wool production. These are medium-sized, but Kachhi can produce some milk as well. Fleece of more than 2.0 kg per annum can be obtained from them. The Kachhi and Pak-Awasi have good staple length of more than 7.0 cm. Pak-Awasi and Kooka have more than 60 per cent true wool fibres. More than one lambing per year can be obtained from these breeds through good management practices.
The most fatal enzootic disease is Anthrax which is caused by a bacillus. It is contracted through water, food excretions or through a wound infection. The disease has very low incubation period of 1-3 days and its first sign is sudden death or very high fever.
The wool development centres once established at taluka/ union council level, can serve training places for wool development where owners in the areas be registered and provided technical assistance and veterinary extension services. These services can be provided through trained leader or an NGO in the village. Pedigreed rams be also provided to farmers to improve the breeding.
In Sindh the present population is about 23.5 million sheep from which 6.12 million kg wool is obtained. It can be doubled by providing modern techniques such as:
1. Control of ectoparasites; 2. Shearing with modern electric machines; 3. Keeping quality wool separate from lower parts wool; 4. Storing and protecting wool from parasites; 6. Selling wool at a time when it fetches the highest price.