Farming of Chitrali sheep advocated

CHITRAL, March 31: An expert has advocated farming of a local breed of sheep with unique reproductive characteristic, saying it can help meet the local market’s meat and wool needs. 

According to Dr Shakir Khan of Agricultural Training Institute, Peshawar, the sheep locally known as khotekan kari has the shortest possible gestation period of 70 days and gives birth to twins or even triplets. He told this correspondent that the sheep could be bred on commercial basis to solve the problem of mutton and gain wool, whose products are in high demand.

Dr Shakir, who has earned a doctorate’s degree from Agricultural University, Peshawar for extensive research on khotekan kari under a Higher Education Commission programme, said the breed in question was Chitral specific and was found nowhere in the country.

He said in the course of research, he had collected 114 heads of sheep from four different valleys of Chitral to study their characteristics and they were kept in separate sheds of model farms. “Ultrasound of expectant sheep was carried out on a weekly basis to study different parameters of embryo development,” he said, adding that the research lasted 25 months. The expert said the said breed of sheep should be conserved for its uniqueness.

He said in extreme weather conditions, the said khotekan kari’s conception and lambing capacity increased manifolds, while its gestation period continued throughout the year. Dr Shakir said population of khotekan kari was around 14,000 and that the sheep were mostly found in Khot, Karimabad, Arkari and Madak Lusht valleys. He said the breed was highly resistant to endemic diseases and had the lowest mortality rate of only 17 per cent in lambs.

He added that no serious outbreak of diseases had ever been reported in the area. “The sheep become sexually matured for conception at the age of six months, which is quite a rare reproductive characteristic,” he said, adding that they usually delivered twins and triplets. The expert said the sheep had three shearing seasons a year and produced 1.5kg wool each on average. He said the breed was threatened by alien breeds brought here from other districts by NGOs for distribution among farmers.

He demanded establishment of a sheep farm in Chitral like the one set up in Jabba Sheep Farm in Mansehra.–Dawn

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