Small Ruminants, Social Security and Small Farmers

Livestock constitutes an important sector of the Indian economy and is of great importance for generating income and employment; mostly in rural areas. Animal husbandry and agriculture are interdependent. In fact, both have a complementary and complementary relationship. Both are components of integrated farming systems, where the output of one becomes the input of the other. Among animal husbandry, breeding of small-horned animals plays a very important role in the life of households in developing countries like ours. In fact, pastoralists depend mainly on the three resources of livestock (mainly sheep and goats), pasture and water, and this is the region where they continue to migrate. They provide livelihood to two-thirds of the rural community in India. Ruminants are grazing mammals such as sheep and goats. Small-horned animals, mainly sheep and goats, were among the first livestock to be domesticated for food and fiber.

Data shows that about 70% of landless agricultural workers, small, marginal and resource-poor farmers in the country are involved in goat farming. In fact, they call a goat a poor cow. Small-horned animals are also an important component of rain-fed farming systems in arid and semi-arid regions of the country. The advantage of these animals over cattle (cattle) is their low cost, small size and low use of land, which is converted into high-quality animal products. They make valuable contributions to the livelihood of the economically weaker sections of the society. They form an important economic and ecological niche in the agricultural systems of rural communities in developing countries. Because small-horned animals make a valuable contribution to the income of households, especially the poor in rural areas. The main source of income in the breeding of small-horned animals consists of the sale of animals, the sale of lambs, the value of home consumption, manure and manure.

Rural Economy

Sheep and goat rearing plays an important role in the country’s economy and in the sustainable livelihood of the poor people of the rainfed agroecosystem. Because rainy regions depend on timely rainfall for crop cultivation. When the rains do not come at the right time or are not enough for the farmers to plant various crops, the millions of farmers living in these rainfed regions come to the aid of ancillary activities such as rearing of small ruminants. Data shows that these ruminants add about 24000 million to agriculture every year as about 6 million families in India are involved in ruminant rearing.

Small Ruminants and Social Change

Livestock is often seen as a producer of milk and meat, a source of income and a storehouse of wealth. However, raising small ruminants such as sheep and goats has had a lasting effect on social change by improving the incomes of these people. Ruminants provide a wide range of products and services to their owners. Rural areas still suffer from lack of credit institutions. An easy way to save cash for future needs is to buy sheep and goats. In fact, in some areas, ruminants have been described as the “village bank”. In addition, sheep and goats are kept for a variety of economic reasons, including savings and investment, security and insurance, stability, and social functions. Improving the financial security of rural households through livestock farming inevitably translates into better living conditions for these households and thus the beginning of social change.

Women’s Economic Security People

Along with poultry, small-horned animals are economically important for small farmers and especially for women. The share of small-horned livestock in total income is inversely related to the size of the land, indicating that small-horned animals are of particular importance to landless people, especially women. In many countries, women often do not have the right to own land, and since agriculture provides only seasonal employment, livestock rearing provides employment and income as a subsidiary occupation. These ruminants also play an important role in ensuring the financial security of rural women, and data show that women are better household managers than men. Village women are engaged in rearing or rearing small-horned sheep and goats, especially around the houses, by feeding them with kitchen waste or in most cases letting them graze on the surrounding grasses and bushes. In many countries, ruminants have helped rural women to meet their financial obligations to ensure sustainability and increase the benefits inherent in ruminant farming practices.

Climate resilience

These ruminants are climate resilient because they are better able to withstand climatic disturbances such as drought than cattle. Their short reproductive cycle allows them to recover quickly from drought or a rapid resumption of reproduction after devastating disease.

Nutritional Security

Sheep and goats are good sources of protein and fat, making them the most important livestock component in pastoral and agro-pastoral production systems. Unlike large animals such as cattle, which are normally concentrated and remain in the hands of a limited number of producers (high-income farms), small-horned animals dominate almost every low-income farm. A carcass of 10-15 kg of small cattle is easily transported by farms either for home consumption or for sale without a preservative, and even slaughtering steers (when available) for the same purposes is generally not impossible and economical, and therefore rare. event.


In certain regions of the country, as well as around the world, sheep and goats are raised for barter exchange. This is especially the case where access to cash is limited and livestock sales are unregulated or unorganized. In such cases, ruminants are replaced directly with grain. Small-horned animals are also kept by poor rural households for ready cash income to meet their immediate needs such as procuring agricultural produce, paying school fees and purchasing large animals such as cattle. Because it is easier for farmers to find buyers for goats or sheep than for cows.

Small animals and festivities

Small-horned animals are added to festivals and other special social gatherings. They are often served in honor of special guests, friends or relatives for celebrations and various social and religious ceremonies. They also play a key role in building a stock association among members living in the same community in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, Sheep and Goats enable poor households to sustain their livelihoods.

Sheep are preferred over goats because they can graze on dry grass, crop residues and twigs even in the peak summer months. Sheep farming is one of the important sources of income and livelihood among farmers in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand. Kashmir’s high mountains, low hills and grasslands provide ample opportunities for cattle rearing. It is the main occupation of the tribal population which includes Gujjars and Bakerwals, Gaddis, Changpas and Chopans. It is also a rich repository of genetic resources of sheep and goats. 43 breeds of sheep are registered in the country. J&K (including Ladakh) contributed 6 Bakerwals, Changthangi, Gaddi, Gurez, Karnah and Poonchi and many other unregistered breeds.

Despite all this, the sector still remains neglected and unorganized. Farmers engaged in the breeding of these small-horned animals face many challenges. The outbreak of the disease often results in a huge economic loss for them. Scarcity of fodder still haunts them and they also come into conflict with forest workers. These small-horned animals face a problem while being transported from one place to another. The owners still do not have access to formal credit institutions and they do not have insurance coverage. Pastoral communities are also severely marginalized due to ignorance, nomadic lifestyle, small population, cultural stereotypes and irrational government policies. They still do not have a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen the sector with a focus on research, educate breeders, transfer appropriate technology to improve the health of these small ruminants, develop livestock value chains, and make it an economically viable and sustainable enterprise for the marginal, resource-poor. and small farmers.

(The author is a faculty at SKUAST-K, can be contacted at

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