Shimla, May 22
The Himachal Government has launched Rs 8.5 crore community-based structured breeding programme to achieve genetic improvement of indigenous pahari sheep through crossbreeding with Australian merino sheep.
The state government has imported 240 Australian merino sheep (40 males and 200 females) at a cost of Rs 6 crore (approx) for breed improvement under the National Livestock Mission (NLM) so that superior exotic germplasm could be infused to achieve the target of about 3,000 tonne wool production by next five years, said Animal Husbandary Minister Virender Kanwar. He said the Australian merino sheep are known to have the softest and finest wool used for apparel.
- These local sheep will be crossbred with Australian merino sheep
- 240 Australian merino sheep have been imported at a cost of Rs 6 crore
- State aims to produce 3,000-tonne wool in the next five years
Woolfed has a modernised plant for wool scouring in Banuri, Palampur, where 11,500 kg wool was processed in the year 2020-2021. The average wool production in Himachal is about 1,599 gm per sheep every year. The state has two popular breeds of sheep namely – The Rampur Bushairi breed and Gaddi breed — that are popular for producing high-quality carpet wool.
The Rampur Bushairi sheep breed is reared in Shimla district while Gaddi sheep breed is reared in Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul & Spiti districts. The state has 7,91,345 sheep which produce coarse carpet quality wool at present.
At present, Himachal is the sixth largest producer of wool in the country contributing four per cent to the country’s total wool production and this wool is used to prepare products like carpets, yarn, fabrics and garments mainly for the domestic market.
The breeding programme will improve the quality of wool and wool of 21-22 microns suitable for apparel production would be produced which will be on a par with the world’s best premium quality fabrics, he added.
Moreover, the multipurpose merino sheep (a Spanish breed prized for its soft, fine and lustrous fiber) is being reared at sheep breeding farms at Nagwain (Mandi district) where infrastructure facilities have been strengthened to meet requirements of imported livestock with a total cost of Rs 2 crore (approx) and 800 healthy lambs have been produced through artificial insemination.