Sheep Farming is one of the best lucrative business prospects for a farmer.
Jamunapari, Thalaicheri indigenous sheep are capable of assuring a solid return of Rs.6 L in three years. They give birth to minimum 2 or 3 offsprings in each time of conception. From the time of delivery, the offsprings can be sold in six months. The cost of investment and maintenance is comparatively less and is next only to poultry farming. Above all, the buyers will come to our place to buy and this source of return will mostly help the farmers whenever they face any kind of crisis in the main agricultural operations.
Sultan Basha and Bhilal run their sheep farm at Karaiyur, a small location, situated in Chethur village which is around 15 KMs on the Natham-Thuvarankurichi road in Dindigul District. Precisely, Karaiyur is on the right side of the road, roughly around 2 KMs from Chethur village. The name of the farm is ‘Basha Sheep Farm’.
Sultan Basha lives in Natham village and he is a retired person from the village panchyat. Even while he was in job, he was having a small sheep farm which he subsequently lost due to some unavoidable circumstances. However, his interest was intact. This particular land was bought by him for the sake of his son who is now at Bangalore. In this land, the sheep farm is being run by him and his son’s brother-in-law Bhilal who stays in the farm itself. Bhilal started narrating the details as under:-
Basically, Bhilal is a native of Palani and is a Diploma holder in Mechanical Engineering. Initially, he was employed in his field which he subsequently quit because it was not of any interest to him. Rather he was interested in sheep farming. He took a small farm of his relative for lease and used the farm for sheep farming operations. He used to rear Semmari goats for about 6 months and used to sell them during Bakrit time after taking one for his personal consumption.
After Bhilal quit the job he came across Pasumai Vikatan wherein he noticed certain relevant articles of sheep farming and the returns from them. First thing he did was that he got the consent from his brother-in-law to use his land for sheep farming along with his uncle. Secondly, both of them personally went, met and gathered lot of inputs as first-hand information from the owners of such farms which he had collected from Pasumai Vikatan.
Organic Cultivation and Fodder:-
In this farm they have a total extent of 8 acres. In about 6 acres of land, they have been cultivating KO-4, KO.F.S-29, Supapull, Agathi,Velimasal and KO-31varieties of cattle fodder. Also they have planted 120 coconut saplings and 700 teak wood tree saplings. For both the fodders and the trees, they have been pouring panchakavya, fish amino acid, pazhangadi varieties of inputs along with sprinkler irrigation process once a week.
Construction of Loft & Maintenance:-
Bhilal and his uncle have availed of bank loan for this farm operation which is 2.5 years old now. The loft erected for this sheep farm is rather unique. It is actually 120 x 21 ft. space wherein the loft has been constructed. They have put up barriers measuring 20 x 20 ft. for free movement of sheep inside the space. Initial procurement of 80 sheep was in a mixed form consisting of jamunapari, thalaicheri and country sheep. They started expanding the sheep population from then on. As they were required to pay the EMI to the bank towards the loan, they had sold all the sheep except the female sheep so that they can be used for further expansion. In this way they had sold 60 sheep. Now they have 44 female sheep and one kida (male one) and 5 female sheep which are yet to become mature. Almost all female sheep are now pregnant and from within one month all these female sheep will start delivering their baby sheep.
One of the main advantages Bhilal and his uncle enjoy in this farm is that all the parent female sheep are of the same age and so also the conception time and deliveries; as a result of this, that they will be able to sell the little grown-ups the same time. That too, the buyers would come to their farm to make the purchase. In addition to that, Bhilal gives an insertion in the Pasumai Sandai column in Pasumai Vikatan through which the newly started farm owners approach them for buying the sheep direct.
They have so far sold the sheep thrice, each time 60 sheep respectively, thus totalling 180 in all
In the case of live one, they sell it @ Rs.300/- per kilo
They sell those which are of minimum 15 kg.weight
One sheep can be sold @ 4,500/- in this process
Some buyers would ask for female offspring also which Bhilal would sell it at an additional cost of Rs.1,000/-
They have so far earned Rs.6,30,000/- as return from the sale of sheep
Expenditure-wise, they incur Rs.3,000/-per month towards cost of cake, medicine, concentrated feed etc. for the sheep and in about 2.5 years they have so far spent a sum of Rs.1,00,000/-
EMI payment due to the bank loan is separate
They are confident that in about another 3 years’ time, they will be able to recover whatever they have invested.
Both of them are confident to declare that one acre is just enough for cattle fodder cultivation. One person can rear 25 sheep comfortably. One will have to invest Rs.2,50,000/- towards erection of cattle shed and initial cost of sheep purchase. Surely one will reap a profit of 1 Lac per year, as per their calculation.
Bhilal is intelligent enough to have insured the sheep immediately upon purchase. When he initially bought 80 sheep during last May, the monsoon rain had started heavily thus killing 16 sheep due to unbearable chillness. However, he was able to get compensation from the insurance company for the lost sheep. Another important lesson he has learnt is that he would never buy from the market; instead he would buy big sheep only from other farms. So much so he could avoid the risk involved in that.
Bhilal says that they have constructed the loft at a height of 4.5 ft. from the surface in the direction of east to west with asbestos cover so that there will be adequate ventilation and air circulation. They have also made the shed with six partitions with a separate space for the young ones. Necessary arrangements have been made to ensure that the residues of the sheep fall in one place which they will be able to clear them then and there. Since Bhilal and his uncle have allotted 6 acres exclusively for cattle fodder, there would never be any shortage of fodder for the sheep. In addition to this, the overall expenditure on cultivation is also less because of organic farming being in practice. The sheep are growing healthily.
When it comes to the fodder again, Bhilal and his uncle take particular care in terms of feeding the sheep. All kinds of cattle fodder will be mixed, cut and powdered before they are fed to the sheep in the quantity of nearly 15 baskets. In the noon, all the sheep will be let out for allowing them to stroll within the fenced territory. In three different places the cake water tanks are filled up and kept ready for their consumption. Whenever groundnut is available, it will also be given to the sheep as an edible item in the evening. Besides this, the mineral salt cakes will also be tied and kept hanging so that the sheep can lick and eat whenever they want.
Bhilal confirms that there is no instance of any infection since everything is kept and maintained exclusively in his sheep farm. Moreover, when they buy new sheep, it is their practice to keep them isolated for a month, give them necessary preventive injections for removal of any kind of infection and then only they will be let inside the shed. Similarly, all the sheep would be tested periodically for infection, if any. Bhilal himself would administer first aid assistance and if necessary they would seek the help of veterinary doctor. In the case of big sheep, they would necessarily do the medical test for removal of any possible infection once in three months.
On the cross-breeding front, they allow Jamunapari and thalaicheri indigenous sheep to be together for impregnation. The gestation period is only six months and once it is delivered, the offspring will be allowed to be with the mother for a period of two months. Once they are separated from the mother, the mother sheep would again become mature enough for further procreation and impregnation within fifteen days. The velladu sheep would deliver thrice in two years and in each delivery it would be minimum three baby sheep. Normally within six months the sheep would become mature enough to get impregnated. The common symptoms to know this development are they would start crying continuously by shaking their tails as well as there will be noticeable secretion from their genital part. Once this is found, they would arrange for cross-breeding.
It would not be an exaggeration to conclude that Bhilal and his uncle Sultan Basha, thanks to Pasumai Vikatan, have done a practical research on this sheep farming and they have had a tremendous success worth emulating.
(This article originally written by G Prabhu for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by P S Ramamurthy)