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Divisions » Animal Genetics Breeding

Division of Animal Genetics and Breeding

Sheep Genetic Section was established in 1966 to conduct research on improvement of indigenous breeds of sheep for wool and meat production. The section was upgraded to Division of Animal Genetics and Breeding in 1975. During sixties the sheep improvement programme was started by importing Rambouillet sheep from Texas (USA) to undertake cross breeding programme. Subsequently during seventies Soviet Merino sheep were imported from Stavropol (erstwhile U.S.S.R.) for cross breeding the indigenous medium wool producing sheep for fine wool production. Dorset and Suffolk sheep were imported for crossbreeding the indigenous sheep to evolve new mutton type breeds. In experiments Malpura and Jaisalmeri sheep were crossed with exotic Rambouillet. Several crossbreds of different grades were produced and evaluated for their growth performance, wool yield and quality traits. In 1971 an All India Coordinated Research Project on sheep for fine wool and for mutton were initiated. Later the two projects were merged into a single project on Sheep Breeding with fine wool component and mutton component. In Mutton component, the crossbreeding of local Malpura and Sonadi sheep with exotic Suffolk and Dorset was initiated in the year 1974 to evolve mutton type sheep to attain body weight of 30 kg at 6 months of age. In the fine wool component, Chokla and Nali sheep were crossed with Rambouillet as well as Soviet Merino to produce good quality apparel wool bearing sheep. The biochemical polymorphic studies were also undertaken to study the inheritance of various blood constituents and to determine the possible association of these biochemical parameters with economic traits. Marwari, Sonadi and Malpura breeds were crossbred with Karakul to produce lambs for pelt production. Research was also carried out with indigenous goats to evolve chevon-producing goats so as to attain 25 kg body weight at 6 month of age. Studies on cytogenetics were initiated in 1982. In 1994 Awassi sheep was introduced in the mutton project with the aim to improve milk and body weight. Awassi was crossed with native Malpura sheep. In 1997, Garole, a prolific microsheep of West Bengal was also introduced for increasing prolificacy of Malpura sheep. In 2008, Patanwadi inheritance was introduced into prolificacy project to improve the milk yield and mothering ability. In 2010, Kendrapada, another prolific sheep (relatively heavier than Garole) from Orissa, was also introduced in to the prolific sheep project.

Important achievement relate to crossbreeding works of the division are presented below as milestone;

Important Milestones


Establishment of the Institute



Import of Romney Marsh, Southdown and Rambouillet sheep



Introduction of Corriedale sheep at Mannavanur for crossbreeding with Coimbatore sheep



The All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on sheep for fine wool, mutton, Canary colouration and manufacturing trails were started



Import of Soviet Merino sheep from Stavropol (erstwhile U.S.S.R.)



¾ Rambouillet crosses of different indigenous breeds produced



Import of Dorset and Suffolk sheep



Import of Karakul from USSR



Avikalin and Avivastra strains of sheep evolved



Mutton Synthetic (Avimaans) strain of sheep evolved



Bharat Merino strain evolved and subsequently also introduced at SRRC Mannavanur



Some Avikalin and Avivastra sheep shifted to Bikaner Campus for testing in Arid environment.



Conversion of AICRP in to Network Project on Sheep Improvement



Introduction of Awassi sheep



Awassi X Malpura half-breds sheep were produced



Introduction of Garole sheep



Garole X Malpura half-breds were produced



¾ Malpura ¼ Garole crosses (GMM & MGM) produced



Bharat Merino flock shifted to  SRRC, Mannavanur (TN) & NTRS, Garsa (HP)



Introduction of Patanwadi inheritance in the Prolific sheep project



Three breed crosses (GMM X Patanwadi & Patanwadi X GMM) produced



Mega Sheep Seed Project Initiated



Introduction of Kendrapada  sheep in the Prolific sheep project

Salient Research Achievements during XI Five Year Plan

  • Selective breeding in Malpura sheep for improving mutton production is in progress and through intensive selection and improved management practices body weight at 6 months has improved from 13.84 kg in the year 1974-77 to 25.74 kg in the year 2010-11.

  • High genetic merit Malpura rams are being supplied to the interested farmers for genetic improvement of their animals. A total of about 250 Malpura rams were sold during XI Plan.

  • Comparison between progenies born out of Farmers’ rams and superior Malpura rams distributed from institutional flocks have shown a considerable improvement in farmers’ flocks. Percent improvement in the farmer’s flock when elite germplasm was supplied was 7.63% and 14.92% in 6 month weight and first GFY, respectively.

  • In Chokla sheep, by intensive selection and improved management, six month weight has increased significantly from 16.51 kg to 24.83 kg and first 6 monthly GFY increased from 0.918 kg to 1.438 kg. A total of 300 rams were sold / distributed during Xth and XIth Plan to the farmers or to the Govt. of Rajasthan for breed improvement programme.

  • Wool fibre quality of Chokla is stabilised around 30-35m fiber diameter and 30-35%  medullation percentage with staple length of more than 6.0 cm  and it is highly suitable for good quality carpet preparation.

  • A cross breeding scheme was initiated in 1997 to introgress the FecB gene from India’s most valuable germplasm “Garole sheep” of a hot and humid environment into the non-prolific and large size mutton sheep breed “Malpura” best adapted of a semi-arid tropical environment to produce the Garole X Malpura (GM) crossbred carrying FecB gene. Later on quarterbred were produced by back crossing of GM with Malpura (GMM). Recently to improve lamb survivability, Patanwadi breed is crossed with GMM which showing a great promise towards successful prolific sheep production.

  • Garole x Malpura (GM) female (ID 504) weighing 27.4 kg at lambing gave birth to triplets, two males and one female lamb. A  Litter weight of 62.60 kg at six month of age and an amazing record litter weight of 95 kg at 12 month of age were achieved.  The Ewe Productivity Efficiency (EPE) achieved with GM is remarkable and may not be possible to attain in any of the native sheep breeds.
  • Percentage of multiple births has reached 40% in GMM. Least‑squares means for body weights at birth, three, six and twelve months were 2.54, 13.68, 20.00 & 26.15 kg, respectively in GMM crosses. The overall survivability has been greater than 95% in GMM over the years.
  • Higher Ewe Productivity Efficiency (EPE) achieved in GMM compared to native Malpura. EPE in the Malpura for six month weight and twelve month weight were 22.18 and 30.56 kg, respectively while for the GMM animals it was 23.19 and 32.78 kg, respectively.

  • GMM and Patanwadi were crossed to produce 3 breed crosses which will result in higher prolificacy, higher birth weight along with more milk yield of dam to feed larger lamb crop per ewe. The GMM X Patanwadi Crossbred lambs have achieved relatively  higher body weight (21.27 % more at 6month) and  pre-weaning average daily gain (25.30% more from birth to weaning) compared to Malpura
  • Overall means for body weights at birth, three, six and twelve months were 3.51, 20.87, 31.82 and 39.5 kg, respectively in GMM X Patanwadi crosses. The improved and proven technology will be delivered at the farmers’ door step to enhance his economic returns per unit of sheep for livelihood security.

  • To fully exploit the production potential of Avikalin sheep, it was developed as promising dual type sheep. Avikalin sheep produce about 80% more wool compared to native Malpura sheep and have better growth potential due to exotic inheritance. Achievement of more than 27.0 kg of body weight at 6 month of age and 40.0 kg of body weight at 12 month of age was attained at institutional farm. First Greasy fleece yield at around 6 month of age has been reached to more than one kg.

  • When superior Avikalin rams were used in farmers’ flock there was an increase of about 15-20% in wool quantity besides increase in body weight. Avikalin has been used as an improver breed and has a great demand particularly in southern part of India to crossbreed their local sheep.

  • Selective breeding along with intensive selection of Sirohi goat is running under the existing unit of AICRP at Avikanagar since 1976. Due to intensive selection and improved management, twelve month weight of the Sirohi goat increased from 21.53 kg to 26.43 kg, similarly total milk yield increased from 74.25 kg to 107.77 kg. The overall mortality rate is negligible.

  • Sirohi Bucks are not only distributed in Rajasthan but also in all over India even in the southern part for breed improvement programme due to its sustainability in all type of environment. A total of 616 animals were sold to the farmers during last five years.

  • Performance evaluation of Bharat Merino sheep is under taken in sub-temperate climate, SRRC, Mannauvanur and six monthly body weight has crossed the 25.0 kg in average. Adult annual GFY of Bharat Merino has reached more than 2.5 kg with 19.38 m fibre diameter, less than 1 % Medullation and 8 cm staple length. Having exotic 75% exotic inheritance, this breed has been used by farmers to increase mutton production where sufficient feed and fodder is available, particularly of Kolar district of Karnataka state where they are using it as improver breed.


Future Research Priorities

  • In the past, much of the gains in the productivity of sheep were achieved through genetic improvement of native sheep breeds which will be continued.

  • A three breed cross developed and having inheritance from Malpura, Garole and Patanwadi and capable of achieving higher market weight, better milk production ability and giving multiple births leading to enhanced economic return.  Marker Assisted Selection of sheep based on genotypic information of principal prolificacy genes, fertility gene, etc having effect on reproduction and accelerated lambing.

  • An integrated approach of selection and breeding based on molecular and phenotypic information of the traits will be used for desired and rapid genetic gain in meat and carpet wool production. This will be achieved through: Identification of major/candidate genes and SNPs followed by validation of their association with mutton/ wool production traits in sheep. Prediction of genetic merit of individual animals from genome-based data combined with phenotypic information and use of significant SNPs for mutton production in the genomic selection programme in conjunction with the traditional selection methods will enable us to achieve a faster and higher rate of genetic improvement in mutton/wool production.

  • Substantial genetic variation exists between and within breeds as regard to resistance to diseases of parasitic and microbial origins which will be exploited to develop disease resistant sheep. Molecular mechanism of resistance/susceptibility and delineation of markers to identify them through the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) will be incorporated in the selection program.