NARI Suvarna – Breed with Multiple Births

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NARI Suvarna sheep breed is known for its multiple births. It can produce twins or triplets per lambing. The breed is developed by the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute(NARI), Phaltan, India. I

In recent years India has increased the number and weight of the lamb produced per ewe per year. This led to a rise in the incomes of sheep owners.

NARI Suvarna ewes have the ability to have twin and triplet lambs and also ability to rear the lambs successfully.

NARI Suvarna sheep are widely seen in the southern part of India. Karnataka(India) has a sheep population of 9.53 million as per the 2012 livestock census. About 36 percent of the sheep population is slaughtered annually for meat in the country.

There is an unsatisfied market for mutton in the country and also a great potentiality for export of mutton, especially to middle east countries. Due to the wide gap between the supply and demand of mutton, its cost has become very high.

The problems presently haunting sheep production are

  1. Poor number of lambs/ewe
  2. very high lamb mortality.
  3. Age at first lambing is more.
  4. The inter lambing interval is quite long.
  5. Movement of animals for long distances for grazing leading to loss of energy rather than gain.
  6. Inadequate nutrition especially to the young lambs, breedable ewes, pregnant ewes,  lambed ewes, and breeding rams.
  7. Weight at slaughter is less and dressing percentage is also very poor due to constant inbreeding.
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These constraints can be resolved by adopting good managemental practices. the inbreeding can be controlled by replacing the breeding ram every year and the number of lambs per ewe can be increased by introgression of twinning(Fec B carrier) genes into the sheep flock.

These FecB carrier sheep – NARI Suvarna- have been developed and made available by the Animal husbandry division, Nimbkar Agriculture Research Institute(NARI). this NARI Suvarna sheep that have the ability to give twin lambs.

Profitability of sheep rearing can be increased by at least 50% if at least half the ewes could produce two saleable lambs instead of one.

Most of the sheep breeds in India give birth to a single lamb at each lambing. In India are sheep reared mainly for lamb(meat) production? Sheep meat production and profitability of sheep rearing can be increased by at least 50% if at least half the ewes could produce two saleable lambs instead of one.

At NARI, the FecB gene was introduced into NARI Suvarna sheep from the Garole sheep breed of Sundarban, West Bengal and using the DNA test and scientific and systematic breeding over 15 years, a sheep that looks like the Deccani or Bellary but has the ability to give twin lambs, was developed with the financial assistance from the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research from 1998 to 2007 and from the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India from 2009 to 2012 for the FecB gene introduction project. NARI Suvarna ewes have the ability to have a twin and triplet lambs and also ability to rear the lambs successfully.

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The FecB gene brings about an increase in ovulation rate leading to an increase in twinning(fecundity). ‘Fec’ stands for ‘fecundity’ or the ability to have multiple births and ‘B’ stands for ‘Booroola’ which is the name of the farm in Australia where the Booroola gene was first discovered in a strain of Merino sheep.

NARI Suvarna sheep are well adapted to the hot and dry climate of the Deccan plateau with temperatures going up to 42 deg Celcius in the summer and down to 8 deg Celcius in the winter. NARI Suvarna ewes are adapted to grazing for 8 to 10 hours a day frequently under harsh circumstances.

Sofar around 250 eves have been supplied in different part s of Karnataka state and most of these ewes have adapted well to the new conditions. Similarly, around 338 Rams and 432 ewes have been supplied by BARI in Karnataka state.

Several farmers in the Tumkur District of Karnataka have procured the breeding stock from NARI and maintaining them successfully by adopting improved husbandry practices.

The findings are quite encouraging :

  • The average number of lambs born per ewe at every lambing is 1.9 lambs.
  • The average number of lambs alive at the sale age of 3 to 5 months is 1.7 lambs
  • Each eve has three lambings in two years, therefor 1.5 lambings per year.
  • The average number of lambs produced per ewe per year is 1.7 lambs * 1.5 lambings = 2.55 lambs

These shepherds are giving supplementary feeding in addition to grazing to maximize the benefits from them, It is possible or local ewes to rear twins if some supplementary feeding is given to them as given below :

  • Mid-pregnancy (3 months before lambing): 100 gm per day
  • Late pregnancy(1.5 months before lambing): 200 – 250 gm per day depending on the quality and quantity of grazing/fodder availability.
  • After lambing: If twins/triplets are born: 250 to 300 gm per day for 3 months or until lambs are weaned.

You should make small pens to keep the ewe and lambs together for 2 to 3 days after lambing so that they form strong bonds and suckle the milk properly.

Lambs should be given succulent nutritious fodder such as Leucaena(Subabhul) leaves or lucerne fodder until they are sold or until they are 1.5 years old if you are keeping them as replacements. Lambs should also be given maize grain and pelleted concentrate, the quantity of which should be increase gradually as their appetites increase. Only good management will be given you good growth rates and healthy animals.

Birth weight

Twins and triplets: 1.5 to 2.0 kg. Outstanding ewes have given twin lambs with a birth weight of more than 2 kg each. Single lambs: 2 kg to more than 3 kg.

  • Adult ewe weight: average 30 kg
  • Lamb mortality: Less than 3 to 5 percent with good feeding and management.
  • Ewe mortality: 1 to 2 percent

Shepard will have to work harder as more attention to lamb and ewe management is needed. A number of adult ewes maintained can be reduced to produce the same number of lambs or lamb production can be increased substantially if the same number of adult ewes is maintained. As lamb production per ewe or per unit of feed given to ewe will increase, the efficiency of the enterprise will improve.

Comparison of Income generated by FecB gene carrier and non-carrier ewes

SL No.ParticularsNon-carrier ewesFecB carrier ewes
1Ewes available for breeding1010
2Ewes lambed88
3Lambs born815 (1.9 lambs/ewe)
4Lambs alive at 3 to 5 months714
5Average lamb weight(Kg)17.520
6The income per lamb (Re)   @ 300/kg on a live weight basis5250/-6000/-
7Expenditure per lamb(Re)200/-650/-
8Net earning per lamb(Re)5050/-5350/-
9Profit per ewe (Re)Re 3535/-   (5050 * 7 = 35350/10)Re. 7490/-   5350*14 = 74,900/10)

Extra profit per lambing of a FecB carrier Ewe is Re 3955/-.

The lamb sale price considered here is the price if the lamb is sold for slaughter purposes. As all the lambs will be FecB carriers, there will be the opportunity to sell them at a much higher price for breeding purposes.

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NARI Suvarna Owners

Sri Doddaraju S/o Sannappa Veerapura, Sira taluk, Tumkur District has brought ten NARI Suvarna 5 b+(heterozygous) and 5 BB(homozygous) ewes and one ram. 23 lambs born, 20 alive, 4 triples, 5 twins, one single. The two lambs per ewe due to good management.

During 2014-15 and 2015-16 under the Bhoosamrudhi scheme in five districts of Karnataka about 259 FecB carrier breeding rams are distributed to the shepherds who are having at least 30 breedable local breed ewes. Shepherds are quite convinced because in these flocks, the lambs which are born by crossing FecB ram and local ewes, are started giving twins and triplets in F2 generation.

Karnataka Sheep and Wool Development Corporation have launched one novel program to distribute 666 FecB carrier breeding rams in 13 districts of Karnataka.

Rearing NARI Suvarna sheep will definitely increase the number of lambs per ewe and also the lamb weight too. 

Brief characteristics of NARI Suvarna Sheep

Breed NameNARI Suvarna sheep
Other Name
Country/Place of OriginIndia
Breed PurposePrimarily raised for meat production and breeding
Breed Sizemedium
Weight
Ram(Male)
40 kg
Weight Ewe(Female)30 kg
Kidding two  to three lambs
Good for Stall Fedopen grazing  and Stall-fed
Climate ToleranceAll Climates

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