Sheep Farming In Nepal, Breeds, Business Plan

Introduction to Sheep Farming in Nepal: Sheep farming is defined as raising sheep commercially on farms for meat, milk, and wool or manure production. Sheep are one of the important ruminant animals for the livelihood of the hill and mountains of Nepal. Baruwal sheep is the major native sheep breed type of Nepal with 63% of the total national herd and grown in the mountain up to 3,000 meters above sea level.

The sheep productivity can be improved by improving the nutrition either concentrates on feeding or provision of additional forage. During the winter season at the high hill, there is very cold, can’t feed sufficiently under the traditional grazing management system. Livestock production is the most important source of livelihood for about 120 million pastoralists worldwide, and it provides draught power for more than 320 million hectares of farmland. Though, the animal enterprise is one of the principal agricultural sub-sectors in Nepal that contributes about 11% to the national gross domestic product and 27% to agricultural GDP.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Start a Sheep Farming in Nepal, Businss Plan, and Breeds

Sheep Flock
Sheep Flock (Image source: pixabay)

Sheep provides an income source to the small and marginal farmers. It is the traditional occupation and business of the people of some areas in Nepal.  However, sheep farming in Nepal for commercial milk production is not very popular mainly it is good for meat and wool production. The total population of sheep in Nepal is approximately 789292.

The sheep farming business is important in Nepal. Nepal has approximately 0.870 million sheep and these produce 720 MT wool annually. The annual growth of the sheep population is 2.4%. The main native breeds are Bhyanglung (4%), Baruwal (63%), Kage (21%), and Lampuchhre (12%), and these comprise 95% of the total sheep population. Only 5% of sheep are estimated to be cross-bred. Then, the annual wool production per sheep is low about 0.3 to 1.2 kg compared to well-fed exotic sheep about 3.5 kg. The wool fiber of native sheep is of medium to coarse diameter type. Though, bulk values range from 22.0 (Bhyanglung) to 25.4 (Polwarth 75% cross).

Usually, Nepal has a great diversity of agroecosystems. Humidity, altitude, precipitation, temperature, soil, slope, and aspect combine to provide a microcosm of the earth’s vegetation types and farming systems. Sheep farming in Nepal has been practiced since the beginning of agriculture itself, particularly in mountain regions. Sheep are full grown at 2 years common weight is about 40 and 75 Kg it can live till 11 or 12 years.

Sheep are gregarious animals, and they like to flock in a common group, Sheep not only the most productive livestock but also sheep growing for their meat, milk, wool, manure, skins, and transport. Sheep is the oldest domesticated species of multi-purpose animals. Though, lamb is popular red meat with remarkable health benefits a good source of high-quality protein. The sheep are never given antibiotics, growth stimulants, steroids, or any chemical additives.

Our sheep farm established utilizing modern technology and raise grass feed sheep for meat and wool production. Sheep farming is better to generate income for the Nepali people. Before starting a sheep farming business it requires to know about sheep food, care, health, husbandry, pasture, breeds, and farm management, etc.

Advantages of Sheep Farming in Nepal

Some Benefits of Sheep Farming are given below;

  • Sheep farming business requires less capital for establishment.
  • Farmers can raise them with other livestock which requires less space for rearing.
  • The foundation stock of sheep is cheap and the size of the herd will enhance within a short period.
  • Sheep can eat different kinds of plants compared to other types of livestock animals; so they are very useful for cleaning unwanted plants from the field.
  • The sheep can be low maintenance.
  • Sheep can give birth from 1 to 3 lambs each time they give birth, increasing the size of the herd.
  • Wool, meat, and milk from the sheep can all be sources of income for several people.
  • They can survive by consuming low-quality grass and efficiently convert it into meat and wool.
  • They are hardy animals, and can easily adapt themselves to mostly all types of environments.
  • Sheep requires a minimum amount of supplemental feeding and provides a quick return on investment.
  • Sheep farming business can be a great source of earning and employment by proper care.
  • Sheep do not need expensive buildings to house them and on the other hand require less labor compared to other kinds of livestock. Relatively, the foundation stock is cheap and the flock can be multiplied rapidly.
  • Sheep are an economical converter of grass into meat and wool production.

Profitable Sheep Farming Business Idea

Sheep farming business is a profitable business and it requires some management practices. But success in sheep farming needs good planning in advance and solid, continual sheep farm management. Sheep can attain good weight within a short period and you can raise sheep on a small scale or large scale for commercial purposes. Sheep farming business plays an important role in small and marginal farmers. Purchase sheep breeds from recognized breeders. There must be a local or national sheep breeders association that can assist you to find the names of breeders. Check online or in phone directories. Also, the production of wool, meat, and manure provides 3 different sources of income per year.

Common Sheep Breeds in Nepal

Important sheep breeds in Nepal are Lampuchhre, Kage, Baruwal, and Bhyanglung.

Types of Sheep in Nepal are;

Four breeds of sheep are mostly recognized in Nepal. Amongst them, the Lampuchhre sheep breed is found in the Terai, and the other three sheep breeds are the Kage, the Baruwal, and the Bhyanglung in the hills. The sheep breeds found in the hills are described below;

Kage – Kage sheep breed is a small subtropical breed found in the valleys and mid-hills of Nepal. Then, the average adult body weight is about 22kg with a range of 20 to 30kg for rams and 15 to 25 kg for ewes. There is such wide variation in productive and reproductive traits between different pocket regions that there exists a possibility of different strains existing within the breed. It is a regular breeder. Though, autumn (September to October) lambing seems to be more common than spring (March to April) lambing. The lambing interval, lambing frequency, and twinning percentage show wide variation within sheep breed. Kage sheep are shorn twice a year, once in autumn and once in the spring season. The average wool production per head per year changes from about 250 to about 350gms. The wool quality of the Kage is poor, containing coarse, straight, brittle kemp, fine underwool, but no heterotypic fibers.

Lampuchhre – Lampuchhre sheep is a place in the region of Far Western in Nepal. Lampuchhre sheep are also called long-tail sheep. It could be found in different regions mainly in the tropical region of Nepal. This sheep breed was useful for ritual activities and social beliefs.

Baruwal – Is the most important sheep breed in Nepal. Baruwal sheep breed is very hardy, have a good flocking instinct, and are famous for their walking ability, but are susceptible to heat stress. While breeding and lambing take place throughout the year, the main breeding season is from May to September, being highest in July when they are in peak condition in the alpine pastures. The Baruwal sheep breed is late-maturing and lambing before 2 years of age is uncommon. First lambing usually takes place at the age of three years, but the lambing percentage from breedable ewes is high. The average annual wool yield of the Baruwal is about 1.07 kg, with a range of about 0.78 to 1.29 kg. These animals are shorn twice a year, in the autumn and spring season. The wool production in the autumn season is more than that of spring, which is a direct reflection of pasture quality. Baruwal sheep is the main native breed type of Nepal with 63% of the total national herd and grown in the mountain up to 3000m above sea level. Then, they are good grazing instincts and suitable for migratory systems.

Bhyanglung – Bhyanglung sheep kept under a migratory management system. The wool is soft and devoid of crimp, and the proportion of modulated fiber is very small.

Sheep Farming Business Plan in Nepal

In case if you miss this: Dairy Housing Systems.

Sheep Farming Business Plan
Sheep Farming Business Plan (pic credit: pixabay)

Proper Planning – Proper planning before starting a commercial sheep farming business enhances the success rate of the business. A proper plan must be prepared before starting any business and then follow it accordingly through some step-by-step process.

Suitable Farm Location – Essential facilities for raising sheep such as a good clean and fresh water source, adequate amount of greens, good medication, transportation, and proper marketing are the requirements for starting a commercial business. So, one must always keep in mind the above things while selecting land for business.

Build a House for the Sheep – Building the right housing is one of the most important aspects of establishing the sheep farming business. Interestingly, sheep don’t need expensive housing, and raising them with other livestock animals is easy, in small-scale production. For commercial sheep production, proper separate and suitable houses are required them. Sheep houses must be suitable enough to keep them safe from adverse weather conditions. An adult sheep needs about 20 square feet of floor space and the roof must be at least 6 feet high from the floor with a good ventilation system. House must be clean and dry with enough air and light inside the house provided with the proper drainage system.

Must Provide Proper Feeding – The last but the most important point to remember is proper feeding. You should provide proper feeding for the best result. Also, you will need to provide the food according to gender and age. Good-quality hay is a highly productive feed for sheep. Proper feeding of sheep is essential for growth and maximum production. High-quality feed like all types of grasses, plants, and corns keeps them healthy and diseases free. Also, an adequate amount of clean and fresh water must be provided.

Quality Breeds – Quality breed purchasing is one of the essential factors for foundation flock of sheep used for commercial purposes. Different sheep breeds are available in our country but the selection of sheep breeds must be based on their adaptability in that particular area. Local breeds proliferate efficiently, resistant to disease, and are easily available from local breeders.

Strong Fence – Suitable fence around the pasture must be made if sheep are allowed to graze on the pasture. A wire or woven fence should be strong enough so that they can stay safe inside.

Vaccination – Vaccination of sheep must be done at regular intervals of time, especially before the rainy season which will prevent them from various types of diseases. Proper medication of sheep is also essential for ectoparasite, endoparasite, and diseased animals.

The potential opportunities for improving livestock production in Nepal appear to lie in;

  • Training of farmers to improve management skills, and manipulating input/output ratios;
  • Optimum use of land and livestock;
  • Use of improved and adapted technology; strengthened and integrated support services; and
  • Appropriate institutional and policy issues.

Management Systems for Sheep Farming in Nepal

Animal husbandry in Nepal is based on traditional practices, and sheep receive very little care. Most of the sheep are not supplemented at the stall and depend upon grazed forage. Feed conservation practices are not implemented in most parts of the country. Sheep lose condition throughout the winter, which can be so severe that it takes up to 4 months for animals to regain body condition lost during this time. The animal husbandry practiced is influenced by the location, topography, and cropping pattern of an area, the availability of wasteland, communal grazing land, and forest areas, and market prospects. The existing husbandry system can be classified into sedentary and migratory.

Sedentary system – Sedentary system is the system used for raising sheep. It is normally practiced in the low and mid-hills, the lower valleys, and the Terai. Sheep are kept in one area throughout the year and are penned at the homestead at night time. They can be stall-fed, semi-stall-fed, or completely grazed.

In such a system, only one or two sheep are kept per family and are maintained principally for meat production. They are provided with a concentrate supplement, complete stall-feeding is practiced by few families. These animals are normally supplemented at the stall with roughage like grasses, straw, and fodder tree leaves and in some cases, food grains as concentrate. The majority of the sedentary sheep flocks are maintained under an extensive management system, where the animals are driven to the pasture land or forest for grazing during the day.

Farmers in the mid-hills and valleys follow a specific traditional grazing management system, in which the available grazing land is utilized rotationally. Animals are moved to a new area each day completing the rotation in 4 to 6 days. Farmers believe that this system allows adequate regrowth of grasses and vegetation in between grazing. Though the availability of grass in a grazing area directly influences this practice and pasture areas with good grasses are grazed more frequently than those that are less productive. The grazing of animals in a limited area throughout the year leads to the development of a heavy parasitic burden, so that associated parasitic diseases are the main constraint upon the productivity of this system. It is found in the hills, valleys, and also some parts of the Terai.

The number of sheep raised by a single family is very variable and is influenced by the availability of free pasture or forest resources, and by the availability of family labor. The average flock size is similar for sheep, with a range from 1 or 2 animals per family, up to flocks of 20 to 50 animals.

Migratory system – Migratorysystem is followed in the high hills and mountains of Nepal. Animals are moved to different areas throughout the year and are maintained entirely under grazing management supplemented only with 40 to 50gm salt/head/week or fortnight. The flock migrates from the lower hills up to the high alpine pastures and back again as the climate finds the availability of fodder and forage. Once arable cultivation begins, sheep are forced to move higher up the hill, and they return later in the year after the crops have been harvested. Then, this transhumance system of animal keeping is considered to be one of the oldest forms of livestock husbandry, having evolved at the time when animals were domesticated.

In migratory flocks, sheep are run together and this characteristic habit is useful in protecting sheep from predators. Baruwal sheep well known for their flocking tendency and hardiness are the principal breeds of this system in Nepal.

Available Resources for Sheep Farming in Nepal

Sheep breeds in Nepal are hardy and are adapted to harsh environments with a low plane of nutrition. Baruwal and Bhyanglung sheep are late-maturing breeds. Kage sheep are comparatively early-maturing and prolific, but have variable rates of offspring survival and exhibit wide variation in productive and reproductive performance at different localities and under different management systems. Sheep are generally small in body size, but selection for improvement is not practiced by farmers, and indiscriminate breeding results in the maintenance of a low level of productivity from generation to generation.

Feeding Practices in Sheep Farming in Nepal

You may also check this: Fish Farming In Nepal.

Open Grazing Sheep
Open Grazing Sheep (pic credit: pixabay)

Usually, Sheep eat grass, clover, and forbs (a broad-leaf plant other than grass). They will also enjoy hay, silage, grain, and by-products including soybean hulls, peanut hulls, whole cottonseed, and corn gluten feed.

The major key to feeding sheep is to ensure good quality pasture. Poorer pasture must be supplemented with hay, specialized pellet feed, and salt lick blocks. When sheep are unable to graze, such as during the winter season when snow is on the ground or during a drought when pasture is poor or non-existent, you will be obliged to feed the sheep daily. Then, this is a time-consuming process, so consider this possibility if you are not farming full-time.

Pasture management in most parts of the country is traditional, usually inefficient, and efforts made to improve it are inadequate. The total available forage resources in Nepal are inadequate to meet the nutritional demands of livestock in terms of dry matter (DM), total digestible nutrients (TDN), and crude protein (CP). The deterioration of pasture quality, deforestation, and conversion of forest to scrubland, mainly in the densely populated lower and mid-hills, is placing the animals under increasing stress and decreasing their production.

At the present population levels, the total digestible nutrients requirement for sheep is only 8% of the total TDN requirement for all domesticated ruminants in Nepal. Available resources are not utilized effectively. Alpine pastures are owned by certain communities or villages, while other communities lack such a traditional privilege. The latter depends upon the goodwill of those who own the land, need permission to take their animals there every year, and have to pay for use of the land.

Make sure there is always fresh water available for sheep farming. Regularly check that the water is being recycled daily (if electrically driven by pump) or ensure to change the water by hand daily.

Care and Health Management for Sheep Farming in Nepal

Always try to take good care of your sheep. Buy healthy and productive sheep breeds, provide them good housing, feed and always take good care of them. Sometimes they can get infected by various types of diseases. Timely vaccination and proper medication can prevent several types of sheep diseases. In a cage of wool production, collect wool after some period and sell the products in the market.

Disease diagnosis and veterinary services have been strengthened in all districts in Nepal by establishing one district-level Veterinary Hospital, and at least nine Service Centers in every district. To strengthen the diagnosis, treatment, and control of various diseases, animal health research has been directed at evaluating the prevalence of several diseases and at formulating control strategies based on the evaluation. Also, mass treatment in the case of disease outbreaks, and vaccination against main infectious diseases, are provided as a regular program as and when necessary. Drenching with broad-spectrum anthelmintic at intervals during the monsoon and once during the winter is the recommended strategy to check the disease.

District Veterinary Hospitals, as well as Service Centers, provide veterinary services to the farmers. Farmers are trained as Village Animal Health Workers (VAHWs) throughout the country to make veterinary services more available. However, the frequent changing of trained shepherds for untrained ones can make this policy a pointless exercise, so the selection of shepherds for training should be exercised with care.

Some common problems can occur in the sheep farming business, like protecting sheep from predators, shelter arrangement, protection from the cold weather, and diseases, etc. Therefore, make a suitable fence for protecting your sheep. Then, to keep diseases away from sheep, vaccinate them timely. So that they stay free from different types of diseases which is the most dangerous threat.

Marketing Strategies for Sheep

For marketing, the best will be to try the local livestock market. Also, find the marketing strategies before starting the business. Three marketing strategies were identified in sheep farming;

  • Cost focus,
  • Production orientation and
  • Return focus strategy

The production-orientated farmers had better financial performance compared to the other 2 strategies resulting from a focus on improvement of their productivity.

Generally, Sheep products have a good demand in the international market. Therefore, there is an opportunity to earn foreign currencies by exporting sheep products. This will also directly increase national income. Poor people can earn some extra income by rearing sheep farming businesses on a small scale.

You can sell your sheep at the farm gate for local agents, or transport them nearest towns or big cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Lalitpur, Bharatpur, Biratnagar and Birgunj.


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